Ron Green (SlightlyBent) asks this question on his blog, and Robert Scoble is going to try to get an official answer from Microsoft. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and tell you what I think. Basically, it’s as dead as COM is. Now I know that the answer may seem pretty cut and dry, but it really isn’t. You really have to go back to Don Box’s December 2000 House of COM MSDN article to get an answer to the question, “Is COM dead?” The last paragraph sums it up:
As this column has shown, the CLR provides significant benefits to developers who are using COM today. Virtually all aspects of the COM programming model have survived (interfaces, classes, attributes, context, and so on). Some may consider COM dead simply because CLR objects don't rely on IUnknown-compliant vptrs/vtbls. I look at the CLR as breathing new life into the programming model that I've spent the last seven years of my life working with, and I know there are other programmers out there who share this sentiment.
I contend that the same can be said about Internet Explorer. The one thing I can say with confidence is that IE will never be the same. We are in a desperate need for true XML browsers, and need to get away from the old school HTML design of extending browsers with plugins that do not participate as an equal partner with the rest of the browser. That means extending browsers with namespace engines that can render the new namespaces, but can also work with the other namespaces within the document. Some things leaked about Longhorn seem to be along those lines, but I don’t think we will know for sure until the PDC.
But with the question of is IE dead aside, what are the goals of Longhorn? Or even more broadly phrased, where is Microsoft heading? Well we’ve got the following known facts
- The .Net Framework is the future of the company.
- The Web is here to stay
- Microsoft business is software.
- Microsoft is trying to switch to a subscription based licensing model.
Now, Longhorn is supposed to be a revolutionary not evolutionary advance of the MS operating system line. If it is revolutionary, in what ways, a vector based UI, more XML integration? They are all great advances, but does that constitute revolutionary? Is the term revolutionary being used as just hype, or is there more that we don’t know? In my opinion, Longhorn was supposed to be MS first Web based OS, but trying to make that leap in one jump was just too much, too soon, and now Longhorn has become the first major step towards a Web Based OS. Thus, the beginning of the end of what you knew as Internet Explorer. It’s not really dead, just like COM it will be reborn with a much improved architecture (which is desperately needed).
[Listening to: Peace Sells - Megadeth ]