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IE6 SP1 Will Be Last Standalone Version 723

Posted by michael
from the end-of-an-era dept.
mokiejovis writes "Program manager Brian Countryman stated that "as part of the OS, IE will continue to evolve, but there will be no future standalone installations. IE6 SP1 is the final standalone installation." See the Microsoft TechNet article." Several of the people submitting this story have come up with elaborate theories about why: killing competition, etc. etc. I think the truth is just that Microsoft intends to integrate DRM very tightly with their OS and browser, and they're aren't going to try to backport that to, say, Win98, so they just aren't going to release new versions of their browser for old, DRM-less operating systems. In the future server-side browser detection may be more about detecting whether the browser supports the DRM your "web service" uses than what version of Javascript or CSS the browser supports.
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IE6 SP1 Will Be Last Standalone Version

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  • by Sebby (238625) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @01:24PM (#6085189)
    on a previous story []
  • by shepd (155729) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [gro.todhsals]> on Saturday May 31, 2003 @01:27PM (#6085218) Homepage Journal
    >Does this mean Microsoft will just abandon all of their users still running older versions of Windows?

    Yes. They already have for windows 95. Windows 98 isn't far down the road, as is ME.
  • by gordyf (23004) * on Saturday May 31, 2003 @01:28PM (#6085225)
    They're referring to IE6 SP1 as a version number, like Mozilla 1.4 RC1. They aren't referring to the service pack itself.

    And yes, they will abandon older versions of Windows. Do they still support Windows 3.1?
  • Re:Erm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Only Druid (587299) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @01:30PM (#6085242)
    No, it means that the new features will be implemented the same way Windows Update does it for integrated aspects of the OS now: it will be downloaded and installed onto the system. What this means is that you will not be able to JUST get IE, but instead only get it through Windows.
  • by CashCarSTAR (548853) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @01:32PM (#6085260)
    Seriously. Isn't this a bad move for them to make regarding the anti-trust suit? Doesn't this kill their whole "freedom to innovate" mantra?

    In any case, it doesn't really matter. Strange that Microsoft would virtually abandon a project that could have much work done to it, and yet try to push along new OS/Office versions which really have much possible improvement.

    Maybe they are realizing that they can't compete with the Moz group, and are deciding to go in through the back door, back to their old tricks.
  • by Alien54 (180860) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @01:35PM (#6085279) Journal
    At the rate things are going, it may be ahead of the curve for them to be planning for a Microsoft Planet just yet.

    More and more people are not buying the upgrades for either Hardware or Software, because what they have is just good enough. This is driving manufacturers wacko. For word processing and basic home stuff, a few hundred megs of CPU speed is good enough. There is no compelling need. A lot of people are not doing the routine upgrade, and are getting off the treadmill.

    Although their cash reserves gives them a decent shot.

  • Re:Erm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trurl's Machine (651488) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @01:45PM (#6085351) Journal
    I wonder what this means for IE on the Mac?

    If I get it right, MSIE 6 is already not available as a standalone application for MacOS - it has only a "sort of" presence as a part of the whole MSN for MacOS X [] package.
  • Re:Browser testing? (Score:5, Informative)

    by IamTheRealMike (537420) <> on Saturday May 31, 2003 @01:53PM (#6085406) Homepage
    Before it was as easy as loading up said site into IE 6 or IE 5 or what have you and seeing if the layout was as it should be. What now?

    Hmm, I never figured out how to easily make IE6 and IE5 work on the same machine.

    As a web designer, this worries me. How am I supposed to test my sites from here on out?

    The way I do it is to use Wine on Linux. You can just have multiple fake windows directories, and switching between different installed versions of IE becomes a matter of switching a symlink.

    Of course, if in future IE is not available as a separate upgrade, that approach won't work terribly well.

  • probably nothing (Score:2, Informative)

    by SweetAndSourJesus (555410) <JesusAndTheRobot@y a h o o .com> on Saturday May 31, 2003 @02:14PM (#6085525)
    IE/Mac and IE for windows have always been completely separate products.

    Really, they don't even come from the same company. The Mac Business unit is pretty independent these days.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 31, 2003 @02:22PM (#6085575)
    MS and DOM, you must be kidding.

    Opera, Konqueror and Mozilla supports more DOM modules than MSIE 6 SP1.

    On MS website, they clam that.

    The Internet Explorer team has put a great deal of effort into providing fast and stable implementations of 100 percent of CSS 1 and 100 percent of DOM level 1 with this [MSIE6] release. With the emergence of other browser versions over the last year supporting these standards, this is clearly a step forward in interoperability of browsers. [1]
    This is not true....

    According to Microsoft own claims, through the document.implementation.hasFeature() method, Microsoft Internet explorer 6sp1 claims that it do not support DOM Level 1 HTML, but the DOM Level 1 XML returns true on the support question.

    But...the node-type constraint, which is defined by the Node interface is not defined my MSIE6 SP1. In other words, Microsoft do not support ANY DOM modules at all.

    Microsoft believes very strongly in Internet standards and the standards process, and is committed to implementing appropriate standards when driven by customer demand. [1]
    Oh, so just send in a lot of Mail to M$... You all know that MSIE have full PNG support[2] since MSIE 4.... Thats what they promisted[3].

    Mike Menk

    [1] /library/en-us/dndude/html/dude03262001.asp
    [3] l

  • Re:Mozilla beware!! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 31, 2003 @02:28PM (#6085607)
    My bank doesn't [], and it's not some huge national bank, just regional. It's also got a bit of dynamic html, so it's not just a basic page.
  • Re:Erm... (Score:2, Informative)

    by etcreed (662866) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @02:29PM (#6085611)
    It seems to me that Apple already has a workaround for problems like this in the works (I apologize, if I'm reading into this wrong, I'm probably not the most computer literate person on slashdot...). But anyway, I've got the newest Safari public beta, and in the debug menu there is an option called "user agents." I believe you can use this to make it imitate IE for these websites. If not, I'm sure I can expect a correction very shortly. I hope this helps.
  • Re:Erm... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 31, 2003 @02:32PM (#6085626)
    The problem with that, unfortunately, is that Safari doesn't always work with the "advanced" pages. Parts of the Macromedia website are still limited to NS and IE only, for some reason I haven't been able to fathom. I tried having Safari mimic IE with the Debug menu, but the page wouldn't load -- at all.
  • No IE in Longhorn (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 31, 2003 @02:32PM (#6085631)
    IE6 SP1 is the *last* version of IE. Starting with Windows Longhorn, all that will remain is basically just a set of APIs. This doesn't mean Longhorn won't include a browser, though, you'll still be able to browse through the main interface/Explorer.
  • Re:Mozilla beware!! (Score:3, Informative)

    by CAIMLAS (41445) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @02:47PM (#6085713) Homepage
    But most of the people that -do- access their banks online tend to be fairly tech savvy. The people I know that do are usually mac users, linux users, or at least technically adept and dislike IE.
  • by cygnusx (193092) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @02:52PM (#6085746) Homepage
    I have to admit that I'm a bit confused by this. First of all, it's a two-sentence statement in a chat room, so there is very little information to go on.

    +1 Insightful. This entire story -- especially the verbiage about DRM -- is derived from a two-sentence throwaway chat transcript comment that never even mentioned DRM. Classic Slashdot-style reading-between-lines.

    This is the story IMHO: no more separate IE downloads. You will get IE from now on through Windows Update (or OS Service Packs). So those using Windows 2000 and above will keep getting updates, and Win9x users will have to switch if they want newer features.

    Btw, I don't think DRM is out of the question. But real hardware-powered DRM isn't here yet, and won't be in the next 5 years. And even then, I doubt its uptake.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @02:55PM (#6085768) Journal
    Apple's hands aren't clean either. The 99c downloads you refer too are encumbered with DRM. Apple are the early adopters. Check it out at Mac Rumors []

    - Only the iPod and Apple's iTunes, and it seems Quicktime-based apps currently allow playing of these Protected AAC's.

    Apple wants to lock you in to their technology just as much as microsoft does.
  • Re:Browser detection (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 31, 2003 @03:06PM (#6085824)
    Go to This school's [] online student services with Mozilla/Firebird/Opera/Konqueror/Lynx. Note that faking the user agent string doesn't always help. The best part is that the actual page [] and its services work perfectly with Mozilla/Firebird/Konqueror. I assume several other institutions have bought this services package (Pipeline), and that there are other services packages from different companies with similar checks.

    So, yes, real places still give the 'download or die' messages.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 31, 2003 @03:10PM (#6085846)
    Netscape also had a lineup of server software for sale. Netscape FastTrack server (may be wrong about the name) at one time was a pretty big player in the market, but this is going back quite a ways.

    Basically Netscape was shooting for every desktop so they could then use functionality in their server software to make some neat things work only with netscape, making sure they kept the browser market.

    It was ambitious, and it would have worked if it wasn't for some meddling kids.
  • Re:Mozilla beware!! (Score:4, Informative)

    by cyberformer (257332) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @03:13PM (#6085860)
    Palladium is specificially designed to prevent a virtual implementation. That's the whole point of "trusted" hardware: the DRM app needs to know that it's running on a specifc, MS-approved device that won't leak its output to a screen-capture utility or through the analog hole.

    It achieves this using PKI and digital signatures, so a virtual version would need to forge the Palladium device's signature. That means finding the private key, which is a DMCA violation and, more importantly, practically impossible. It's 2048-bit RSA, which would take trillions of years to crack even using the most powerful distributed computing project.
  • Re:Thanks michael (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tony-A (29931) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @03:18PM (#6085881)
    Right, except that the use of the term editor is not all that unconventional.
    The primary duty of editors is the selection and placement of content. There might be an editorial page where an editor can give him or herself the role of columnist extraordinaire, but it's not germaine to the duties as editor.
    Slashdot is primarily a discussion forum with links to news stories of interest, with a few choice words to help start the discussion. In this context an overt bias is expected and actually helps move things along.
  • by nitehorse (58425) <> on Saturday May 31, 2003 @03:28PM (#6085928)
    Uh, actually, he's right [].

    Why don't you research what you say next time?

    It is a fact, as found by a US court, that Microsoft is not only a monopoly, but an abusive one, deserving of severe punishment. The Bush administration got a large sum of cash from Microsoft, and made it go away conveniently.

    Where's _your_ research?
  • Re:*blinks* (Score:2, Informative)

    by Gsus411 (544087) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @03:34PM (#6085954) Homepage
    Nope, not as I understand it.

    IE is a system service in Windows. Any application can use it to render HTML etc. Much like Quicktime on Mac OS.

    I know many devs that would cry bloody murder if it was taken away. It's not going. Read the article. Nothing about it being taken away.
  • by bazmonkey (555276) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @03:51PM (#6086060)
    This is the most disturbing part of this whole story for me.

    ::bangs head violently against desk::

    This is Telex4's point, in this comment's grandparent. "Microsoft will tightly control their DRM technology..." should not be the most disturbing part of the this whole story, because it isn't part of this whole story; it's the editor's OPINION.

    This thread is having a petty argument over whether or not slashdot is a news site and whether or not slashdot's editors are truly editors in the journalistic sense.

    1. Slashdot is a news site. They relay news, the same way local newspapers relay Associated Press articles and articles from better papers (NY Times, Washington Post, etc.).

    2. Slashdot's editors are editors. Many people read slashdot exclusively, at least for this kind of news, and slashdot's editors are in charge of what stories go through and what their readers are subjected to.

    3. Yes, editors do pass subtle opinion within stories in newspapers all the time. There's a difference between what they do and slapping "I think that..." directly after a story. What slashdot editors do DRAMATICALLY changes the articles they post. In this case, it changed a sotry about MS no longer bothering to make new versions of IE work on old Windows installations into a story about the tyrant software villains deftly attacking the open-source world.

    Slashdot editors: C'mon, I know it's your site, but just cut it out, eh? I hope you realize how hypocritical you all are when you scold MS/SCO/etc. for spreading FUD.
  • by Amiasian (157604) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @03:54PM (#6086073)
    Time Magazine Interview with Tim Berners Lee [], unfortunately, a preview to a for-pay full article. If anyone knows where the full article is, for free, let me know.
    In any event, in this article, TBL - creator of the web - discusses what his greatest fear for it would be. In other words, what would harm the web most?
    His answer: A "split" internet. Browser A is best used for this site, browser B is best for this one. DRM, thus, is technology that will do - as most of us are no doubt aware - more harm than good. It DESTROYS the ubiquitous nature of how one SHOULD be allowed to access online content. Time, ironically, has designed their site to be used with Browsers X and Y (Netscape and IE).
  • by jilles (20976) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @04:17PM (#6086175) Homepage
    Try doing transparency with png's in IE. They sort of support png but transparency was clearly too much for the IE programmers. That's why everybody still uses transparent gifs (which are much less attractive due to the lack of alpha channel support) and ugly css hacks (which due to faulty implementations is not easy either). Png's work beautifully in mozilla though.

    If only MS could be bothered to fully implement web standards, it would be much easier to create nice looking sites.
  • Re:Mozilla beware!! (Score:4, Informative)

    by jez9999 (618189) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @04:28PM (#6086229) Homepage Journal
    Online banking today cuts-out everyone with a browser which doesn't transmit "MSIE" in the user-agent.

    Speak for your own shite bank. I just tried mine, and its online banking seems fine with Mozilla.
  • by bheer (633842) <rbheer&gmail,com> on Saturday May 31, 2003 @04:38PM (#6086283)
    > IE6 has really stagnated

    Exactly how is this? I am not a web developer, but IIRC IE6 has pretty decent support for CSS1 and DOM level 1. Agree, IE hasn't kept up with bleeding edge stuff like CSS2 (and yes, transparent PNG support sucks), but that's hardly stagnation. Is there a link available somewhere (just so I could learn) that lists all the things IE6 does not do?

    On the other hand, IE6 SP1 seems to render this XHTML 2.0 page [] slightly better then Phoenix 0.6 (Moz 1.4b) does. Opera 7.1 does not render it at all. For all its doodads (notes and all) isn't Opera 'stagnating' faster than IE?

    As for UI tweaks, like tabs, gestures and popup blocking -- there are lots of IE "shells", like NetCaptor [] that add these to IE. Nothing stops someone from writing their own shell and giving it away [].

    Btw, I agree with you in principle -- with little competition in the marketplace, companies do have less incentive to add features. On the other hand, in practice, it is not clear that IE's competitors have produced a better product yet. Opera sucks memory, and even Firebird 0.6 (which I'm currently using because it's the best non-IE browser I've tried so far) has serious bugs with its History pane. I'd say basic features like those are way more important than chasing the latest standard-of-the-week from the W3C.

  • Re:Browser detection (Score:4, Informative)

    by shane_rimmer (622400) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @04:39PM (#6086287)

    I recently graduated from Augusta State, and I know the issue has been pointed out to the people responsible for the service. They have taken an "it works well enough stand", and they would rather block access to the service completely rather than allow a student to experience a technical glitch caused by a browser that doesn't like some of their code (a paraphrasing of the response I received after complaining). Several members of the faculty have pointed it out, but they seem unwilling to update the browser detection code. The biggest problem is that it looks for certain browsers to allow access rather than to just block browsers with known problems.

    Of course, they were still using Netscape 4.6 when I left this past summer, and Pipeline works with that...

  • Re:Mozilla beware!! (Score:4, Informative)

    by hendridm (302246) * on Saturday May 31, 2003 @04:40PM (#6086291) Homepage

    > The banks will cater to the lowest common denominator. If even 10% of their users have problems accessing their online banking accounts, the cost of customer service calls will by HUGE.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, I think there are a significant number of banks out there that currently only support IE. It seems to come up here on Slashdot every once in awhile.

    Additionally, the number of support calls might increase, but the duration of the call will likely be short:

    Customer: Um, yeah, I'm using Mozilla on <insert your favorite OS here> but I can't access the online banking page.
    Support Person: Sorry, you have to use Internet Explorer to access our online banking page
    Customer: But I'm running Linux!
    Support Person: Sorry, we only support Internet Explorer.
    Customer: Curses! I'm going to find a new bank then!
    Support Person: Is there anything else I can help you with today?

    I don't know about y'all, but all the banks I have been with could care less about losing a small fry like me.

  • Re:Mozilla beware!! (Score:3, Informative)

    by arkanes (521690) <> on Saturday May 31, 2003 @04:55PM (#6086364) Homepage
    Wow, a highly accurate statistical study! :P Almost everyone I know has at least dabbled with online banking. It's heavily promoted, both at my bank and the banks I walk past every day. Slashdot is about as anit-MS and IE "general" site you're going to find and STILL has somewhere around 90% IE hits. So I think you'll find that banks, like all major websites, will support IE first and formost. Glitches in other browsers MAY recieve attention, but it WILL work in IE.
  • Re:No Real Loss (Score:2, Informative)

    by jmscott42 (205767) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @05:45PM (#6086608)
    My work is being asked to join into a Microsoft Campus Agreement, that part of it does include a "bundled" Office + Windows OS license package. And you're stuck getting a bunch of CALs you may or may not need as part of that as well.

    Needless to say, I'm not jumping onto it.... I don't want to have my department absolutely locked into MS products (or, at least PAYING for MS products) for 4 years with no way out. But a lot of people on campus ARE buying in, because it "saves a lot of money" without realising what they're getting drawn into.
  • Re:No Real Loss (Score:3, Informative)

    by davidstrauss (544062) <.slashdot. .at. ...> on Saturday May 31, 2003 @06:13PM (#6086741) Homepage
    The following are simply examples that support my argument. More examples exist.

    Why does it do this? Are you suggesting that shops that use mixed products cannot simply download and install Mozilla? Or whatever browser they want to use?

    Yes (to the second question). Outlook Web Access works far better in IE. Any other browser runs a far less functional "down level" version. In other words, the best Exchange situation is Windows servers, laptops, and desktops. Anything less decreases the return on investment in the software. It's hard to justify paying for software that has significant features that won't be used. Most improvements in Exchange since 5.5 (IMO) have been in web access.

    And why would they want to avoid Windows just because it has IE integrated (vs. standalone)? Does the presence of IE somehow ruin their business?

    I'm really referring to the combination of formerly separate packages that each cost money, like Office, Windows, and separate server packages. If Microsoft has a $300 package and a $200 package, and your business only needs the $200 package, then fine. When Microsoft combines the products and the sole product combines the functionality of the first two as well as the price, the new, expensive package has less value. Microsoft has done this with several products, like ISA Server (in some ways), Exchange, and Office. Likewise, not using the integration features of separate Microsoft packages hurts ROI and TCO.

  • by MenTaLguY (5483) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @07:52PM (#6087120) Homepage
    All versions of IE > 5.0 support alpha transparency in PNGs via DirectDraw filters, on all supported versions of Windows.

    For example, to display a 256x256 PNG image (some.png) with correct alpha support:

    <img src="blank.gif" style="width:256px;height:256px;filter:progid:DXIm ageTransform.Microsoft.AlphaImageLoader(src='some. png',sizingMethod='scale')">

    (note that blank.gif is a fully transparent, empty GIF)

    There's absolutely no technical reason why they can't support it the normal way, except that they don't care.

    n.b. this doesn't work on IE for the Macintosh, but that has correct PNG alpha support to begin with.
  • by UberLord (631313) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @08:09PM (#6087187) Homepage
    Try doing transparency with png's in IE. They sort of support png but transparency was clearly too much for the IE programmers. That's why everybody still uses transparent gifs

    Actually it's quite simple provided a client uses IE5.5 or higher.
    I suggest reading a workaround [] to get transparent PNG's to work under IE.

    Developers have to work around different OS versions, OS's, etc all the time. It's not that much work to code against IE on Windows - afer all web developers coding against W3C standards do it all the time!
  • Re:Thanks michael (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hobbex (41473) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:28PM (#6087473)
    Browsers already such as Opera can fake the version that the browser is identifed as. How will DRM work in this case? Will there be an encrypted key or something else?

    The TCPA chip in the computer povides a signed hash of the initial code loaded for the operating system. (Basically the boot sector to make it simple and not quite correct). This verifies that you are running an unmodified version of Microsoft FuckWare 200X - which then provides a signature of the application to the server.

    Without hardware cracking the TCPA chip, or perhaps a buffer overflow on some trusted part of the OS (why do you think MS suddenly care about securing their applications!) there will be no way for an application to claim it is something it isn't.
  • by sfe_software (220870) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:37PM (#6087505) Homepage
    I did fine in Opera 7.10, but my real question is, hwo can a server know what browser you are if you fake the string? I mean, I've been to sites and had "Identify as MSIE 6.0" on but it still gave me the "not compatible" issue. Is it some feature they check just to weed out browsers? And to what end?

    I was baffled by this with Capital One's banking site. I finally realized they were using JavaScript to detect the browser, which is totally independant of the UA string. No browser I am aware of allows changing what JavaScript reports.

    JS browser detection is used frequently, but mostly to determine what JS code needs to be used. In some cases, though, the JS then redirects to the appropriate URL (the real site, or the "Upgrade Now" page).
  • by FueledByRamen (581784) * <> on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:38PM (#6087509)
    Sure it can be. Along with lots of other components, including that goddamn Fax service that you'll never use, the Distributed Transaction Coordinator, COM+, and the Auto-Update service

    Start, press Run.
    In the Run dialog-box:
    notepad C:\Winnt\INF\SysOC.inf
    Do a search/replace. Search for the word "hide" (no quotes) and replace it with nothing (leave the replace box blank).
    Save and quit.

    Open up Add/Remove programs, hit Windows Components.
    Voila! Remove the stuff you don't use.
  • by molarmass192 (608071) on Sunday June 01, 2003 @01:39AM (#6088284) Homepage Journal
    No browser I am aware of allows changing what JavaScript reports.

    Download mozilla sources, look in:


    ~ line 5830 you'll find:


    Change it to whatever you want -or- for a less permanent solution, make it read from a file. Recompile.
  • by Nurgled (63197) on Sunday June 01, 2003 @07:42AM (#6089234)

    I believe that the reason alpha-transparent PNGs don't work "the normal way" in IE is due to an old design decision which came back and bit them in the ass.

    If you look at what happens when IE renders an alpha-transparent PNG you will see that it is actually using the alpha channel accurately, but it is rendering it onto an offscreen bitmap which itself only has one-bit transparency, so when the rendered image gets passed back to IE the transparent bits don't reflect the underlying page, they only reflect the initial background colour of that offscreen bitmap.

    So... IE was designed to load images in an abstract way, but at the time they didn't make it abstract enough. The latest versions of Windows support ARGB bitmaps in GDI (well, GDI+ at least), so a future version of IE tied strictly to a future version of Windows is more likely to get support for this due to them not having to worry about dealing with alpha-transparent bitmaps on their older platforms which have no underlying support.

FORTRAN is for pipe stress freaks and crystallography weenies.