I'm glad to see IE5 for Mac being mercy killed. It was a decent browser when it was released, but was condemned to a hideous undead state when development pretty much halted back in 2001. There never was an IE6 for Mac, and Mac IE5 is a pain to support. This may cause some short term problems for Mac users who use (poorly written) sites that are IE specific, but Mac IE5 is not a modern browser and it's time for us to move on. Did we plan to keep using IE5 forever?
Back in June 2004 I wrote about IE Market Share... and Why It Matters. I'll just list the bullet points here; if you want to know more go read it (it's a quick read). Since killing Mac IE was one of my 4 recommendations, it's time for a checkup:
A. IE Usage dropping
B. Why is this happening?
C. Why should Microsoft care?
- IE is one of the most frequently used Microsoft applications
- It just looks bad for Microsoft to crush the competition and then stop developing
- It could precipitate the kind of Open Source badness Microsoft doesn't want to think about (Firefox as the gateway drug to open source / non-MS products)
D. What should happen to IE?
- Mac IE 6... or none at all - GRADE: COMPLETE
Either pick up support for Mac or politely push users off IE onto Safari / Firefox. There's no benefit to having Mac users running a clunky Microsoft browser, it's bad business. Lead or get out of the way.
(and from the comments)
...Now I know this is crazy talk, but I think just announcing you've stopped developing an application and forgetting about it isn't the best thing, even for Microsoft. You end up with frustrated users who can't do what they want (e.g. WYSIWYG HTML editing with a contentEditable textbox) because the "stupid Microsoft browser doesn't work." So they'll eventually move to a more modern browser, but under less than amicable conditions. I think it's worth considering an official policy from Microsoft that encourages users to upgrade to a newer browser. Hey, we're no longer updating this browser, but there are a few great alternatives that we encourage you to try out. That shows integrity, and why not do it? It's a free application anyway, and you've already gotten all the goodwill out of it you're going to - now get that last bit of goodwill by bowing out gracefully.
Will be complete January 2006. I'd have liked to have seen it sooner, since it's a pain to support, but I understand that MS has support and end of life policies here.
- Standards and Technical Parity with Mozilla browsers - GRADE: NEEDS IMPROVEMENT
PNG transparency, CSS support, SVG support, etc. Others have spelled it out in greater detail, so I'm not gonna rehash it. I'll summarize it - make web developers happy, because they are the influencers you want on your side. (A personal request - inline images - Mozilla supports it...).
- Security - STATUS: SATISFACTORY
Sure, goes without saying. Needs the same attention Microsoft's been giving all their products on security. I think this has been the only real positive thing here lately, though - security doesn't seem to be as huge issue for IE as it has been in the past. (wherein I invoke the wrath of my largely theoretical user base and they comment flame me to death).
No, it's not 100% secure, but neither are any of the other browsers. Between IE6 for XP SP2 / 2003 SP1 and IE7, I'm happy with the progress here.
- A Roadmap GRADE: INCOMPLETE
Microsoft's abandoned IE before, so they need to show us this isn't a bouquet and a peck on the cheek. We don't want you back for a weekend, not back for a day (no no no), I said IE I just want you back, and I want you to stay.... We know Longhorn's coming some day, but a lot of folks are going to be on XP or something else for several years to come. Tell them why they sould stay with IE before they feel the need to leave.
Where is the IE Roadmap? I can't find anything on the IE Home Page. I'm not talking about a feature list for IE7, I'm talking about a published plan for where IE is going in the future. Firefox just released 1.5, but you can already read about what to expect in the Firefox 2.0 release and a decent start on the Firefox 3.0 product requirements. The best I can find for IE is a PowerPoint from WINHEC which is mostly marketingspeak. The .NET and Visual Studio teams have been very open about where the languages and technologies are headed, and IE needs to follow suit. (I'm hoping they've done this and I'm just not aware of it - if so, let me know and I'll update this).