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Should Microsoft Switch To WebKit? 244

Posted by timothy
from the all-the-cool-kids dept.
DeviceGuru writes "Although IE remains the one of the top browsers on desktops, it's being trounced on tablets and smartphones by browsers based on WebKit, including Safari, the Android Browser, and Google Chrome. Faced with this uphill battle on handheld mobile devices, Microsoft MVP Bill Reiss has suggested that it might be time for Microsoft to throw in the towel on Trident and switch to WebKit (though Reiss later decided he was wrong). But although there are lots of points in favor of doing so, there are also some good reasons not to, including security and a need for healthy competition to avoid having mobile developers begin to target WebKit rather than standards."
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Should Microsoft Switch To WebKit?

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  • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:36AM (#42567133) Homepage

    IE's problem is not the engine, it's the shitty interface.

    (Ditto about Windows 8, many would say.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xiph1980 (944189)
      It's your opinion that you don't like the interface of Internet Explorer. I agree with you on that, it doesn't hold my preference either, but that doesn't make it a shitty interface. There's a reason why many people still use Internet Explorer.
      You may call it what you will, (inertia, stubbornness, laziness, unwillingness to change,) but truth is that many people just prefer it and Internet Explorer is still popular amongst a big group of users, and in the same way you and I could be called the same for not
      • by cbhacking (979169) <[moc.oohay] [ta] ... isiurc_tuo_neeb]> on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:57AM (#42567251) Homepage Journal

        Personally, I actually find IE's interface one of the better ones. I don't like the approach that most browsers have been taking recently of minimalizing the browser UI; IE is no better off there than Firefox or Chrome (though its badness is slightly different) but things like the colored and automatically-combined tab groups, the ability to cycle through tabs in last-used order, the Favorites sidebar and feed reader, and the "Accelerators" feature for things like translating a text snippet instantly are all features which I appreciate, and feel are implemented pretty well.

        Now, if it would just handle massive numbers of tabs more gracefully... there's a reason I use the "Ctrl+Tab cycles in last-used order" feature so much!

        • Thanks. I didn't know about the control tab option. Does that work in excel? (I am not at work to test.)

      • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @11:06AM (#42567321) Homepage Journal

        AC says you're dumb - I disagree with him. Your opinion is pretty well thought out.

        I do, however, disagree with your assessment somewhat. Trident needs to die, and die hard. Microsoft needs to pull that abomination out of Windows completely, along with all the ActiveX controls, all it's privileges, all of it's quirks, both good and bad.

        I don't believe that I'll ever think that Windows is a "good" operating system, but the removal of Trident would make it one hell of a lot better. Sure, I know that many of IE's worst vulnerabilities have been "fixed", but I shall never forget how many vulnerabilities there have been, or how bad they have been.

        As for Webkit - I've liked it since it's debut under Google's name. Sure, I realize it's not Google's invention, but webkit is cool.

        If/when Microsoft shifts to Webkit, they really, really, REALLY need to install it as an unprivileged application, and make certain that it just BROWSES. It doesn't need hooks into dozens of programs, it doesn't need privileges, it doesn't need much of anything. A few plugins, addons such as Mozilla and Google offer for their own browsers. Leave it at that.

        A browser on Windows should be just as much, and no more than a browser on any Unix-like. The browser shouldn't even be used for updates, as Microsoft has done for all these years. A separate and distinct updating program is a requirement, with no overlap in privileges.

        Yes, Trident needs to die, quickly, and hard. It would be a wonderful thing if five years from now, Trident were just history, with zero support anywhere. I'd like to see websites assist people with updating from Trident simply. Just stop coding for Trident.

        "This site is best viewed with ANY browser that is not Internet Explorer!"

        • by Billly Gates (198444) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @01:16PM (#42568165) Journal

          Trident in IE 10 scores a decent in HTML 5/5.1 and CSS 3.

          It is not the piece of crap it once was in IE 6. Just because you have not used it in 12 years doesn't mean it is the same as in 2001.

          • by Nerdfest (867930) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @01:55PM (#42568463)

            The problem is that if they start getting a significant share of the browser market again, they're almost guaranteed to start their old extend/extinguish trick. Microsoft needs to stay an 'also ran' in the browser market until they learn to play with others.

            • by Billly Gates (198444) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @02:08PM (#42568569) Journal

              Right now I fear webkit will be the next MS, more than MS resurrecting from the dead.

              Have you tried browsing the web with Firefox on Android? It feels like Netscape during 2003 all over again where IE 6 is the only browser that worked well or at all. As mobile takes over webkit will be the next IE 6. [pcmag.com]

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Nerdfest (867930)

                I too have that fear. The real basis for it is because Apple is the new Microsoft. Better design sense, but more greedy and evil.

                • NO, not even close yet. Apple isnt anywhere near the evil MS pulled off. Microsoft held back computing by a decade or more, Apple has yet to pull such a stunt. They do shady shit, and are positioned to possibly be a big abusive monopoly, but they have a LONG way to go to catch up to MS.
                  • by Nerdfest (867930)

                    The only thing they're missing is the monopoly part. They specialize in platform lock-in and anti-competitive behaviour. Look at their patent abuse. Look at iMessage, Facetime, and iBooks - all open protocols with proprietary extensions to lock them to Apple. Microsoft is killing themselves with Windows 8 to even approach the level of greed Apple has. The Metro interface MS store lock-in is a misguided attempt to copy them. Seriously, Apple just hasn't had enough time and market share. If people keep throwi

                    • The last time I checked Webkit was opensource. While Apple maintains functional control over the project if they tried to extend it you don't think Google or someone else couldn't fork it in a moment?

          • I heard that before. However, Trident is still not open source.
        • by Nimey (114278)

          Never happen. There are too many line-of-business programs that use Trident, and are written in such a way to require bug-for-bug compatibility.

          • by Firehed (942385)

            That was the argument in 2003 when we were first trying to get people to switch to Firefox. While I'm sure that's true in some places (China mostly, from what I last heard on the subject) the days of widespread SAAS are upon us and now even giant mega corps don't have a real problem upgrading.

            Even if the updated web apps have ignored the last several years' best practice of feature detection instead of user-agent sniffing, they're unlikely to have serious problems with how close the modern rendering engines

            • by Nimey (114278)

              AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

              You really have no idea how many client-side programs integrate Trident, do you? I'm not talking about something that goes through the browser here.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by hairyfeet (841228)

          Insightful? Really people? hell why didn't he just add a fangirl squee while he was at it! he likes Webkit NOT for any features or design choices but "I've liked it since it's debut under Google's name" which means as long as its google he be a squeeing, and he hates Windows and "I don't believe that I'll ever think that "Windows is a "good" operating system" so billions of people are idiots but of course it would be better...if its done by google or uses a google browser.

          Good God /. you are getting as ba

          • Oh, stop with the squealing - I've liked Webkit since Google started working on it, BECAUSE I wasn't very much aware of Webkit before Google started working on it.

            To state the matter in a different way, I've liked every browser that I've touched that was webkit based. Chromium was the first.

            Squeal now, Hairy!

        • As for Webkit - I've liked it since it's debut under Google's name. Sure, I realize it's not Google's invention, but webkit is cool.

          Not sure if I understand you correctly: So when Apple developed and released it, you didn't like it. And when Nokia used it, you still didn't like it. But then it came out under Google's name, and suddenly you like it?

          • See my reply to Hairyfeet above. I had played with Safari a little prior to Google getting involved with Webkit. But, I had ONLY played with it. When Google released their first version, I downloaded it, played with it, THEN realized that it was much like Safari.

            For whatever reasons, Chromium's first versions ran better for me than whichever versions of Safari I had messed with. After browsing with Google's browser, I went back and grabbed Safari again, to make side-by-side comparisons. I found them to

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet (841228)

        Correct on IE, it is just using some weird design choices but I don't see how anybody can argue that Win 8 isn't wrong when this is the average user response [youtube.com] I saw at the shop. When the user needs a fricking training course to use your damned OS like its 1986 all over again? Something has gone HORRIBLY wrong. IE's biggest problem isn't the UI, its the giant fucking bullseye painted on it by hackers because they know the clueless rubes that are still running that 30 day Norton trialware from 6 years ago and

        • by Xiph1980 (944189)

          Correct on IE, it is just using some weird design choices but I don't see how anybody can argue that Win 8 isn't wrong when this is the average user response [youtube.com] I saw at the shop.

          I didn't mention windows 8 and that's quite off-topic, but I agree, it's not great. I think blogphilofilms explains it perfectly in his review [youtube.com]. Especially the part about the four C's:
          Control: The user should be the person in control of the computer at all times;
          Conveyance: The user should be able to figure out where to go and what to do;
          Continuity: Users should be able to expect that similar actions will yield similar results;
          Context: Users should be able to see information and options at a glance.

          IE's biggest problem isn't the UI, its the giant fucking bullseye painted on it by hackers because they know the clueless rubes that are still running that 30 day Norton trialware from 6 years ago and think that works is using IE. Add to that the fucking braindead choice to not port back to their supported OSes so that the ONLY way you can use the same browser across XP/Vista/7 is to NOT use IE and you have a browser made of fail.

          Micro

      • by loufoque (1400831)

        Is it really? I've never seen anyone use IE7 or later.

    • by Tei (520358) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @11:06AM (#42567323) Journal

      No true.

      The weak support for CSS and strange rendering, layout and JS interpretation are engine things.

      The slowness of JS is another engine thing.

      The bad security is again a engine thing (but may continue in other engine with the same people writting the defaults).

    • by duguk (589689)
      ...and Webkit has a terrible rendering engine. Sounds like an appropriate combination.
    • by poetmatt (793785)

      no.

      It's problem is stubbornly using their shitty trident engine for years and enormous amounts of compatibility issues contained therein.

    • by icebike (68054)

      IE's problem is not the engine, it's the shitty interface.

      (Ditto about Windows 8, many would say.)

      The interface is not a major problem. (Note that the interface is the first major complaint of new Chrome users especially the missing dedicated search box).

      The big problem with IE is the horrible propensity and history of getting hacked or pwned when using that browser.

      But more to the point, since this Slashdot post asks a yes/no question, we can, true to form [wikipedia.org], answer with NO.

      Competition avoids a mono-culture, and provides a refuge when one or the other browser is compromised.

      Oddly, competition with multi

      • Chrome's interface is not any better... in fact, it puzzles me that people abhor IE but accept that turd.

    • by Locutus (9039)
      I agree 100% with your title that it's a silly proposition but not because IE is good, bad, or ugly. It's silly if you know anything about Microsoft's business practices over the last 2+ decades. They will continue to force IE on users because they must continue to own the majority of the developers. And any move to open standards is just temporary and for marketing purposes only. Microsoft is not getting into the phone and tablet market because they're looking for profits there it's about protecting the de
  • by blarkon (1712194) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:37AM (#42567137)
    In the past many on Slashdot argued vehemently for web standards. It's interesting that a lot of people who used to be pro-web-standard when Microsoft was non-compliant with IE are now saying "hey, we're only going to target webkit because ..." The same reasons that applied to avoiding an IE monoculture for web development apply to a webkit monoculture. Rather than bathing in schadenfreude, people should be kicking over bins just like they did with IE to ensure that the most popular implementation follows the standard, not the standard follows the most common implementation.
    • by danhuby (759002)

      Who are these people that are only targeting Webkit?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Just about every web developer who uses OS X, which unfortunately is most of them. "Cross browser" to them means it works in Safari and Chrome, and to hell with anyone using Firefox, IE, Opera, or some other browser.

        • by luke923 (778953) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @11:20AM (#42567437) Journal

          Wrong! As a professional web developer who both uses OS X and works alongside other developers who use OS X, I know first hand a large number develop against Firefox before testing in Webkit. I also know a handful who develop against Opera before testing against any other browser; however, most of the decisions to not target Opera stems from management decisions based on analytics. Still these same management types still tell us to target Firefox and IE going back to IE7.

          As far as using Webkit extensions, if any developer uses any Webkit extension it's because: a) they target mobile and the Webkit extensions render faster that any W3C/JQuery/Javascript implementation equivalent, or b) they're prototyping a new browser engine feature knowing full well that it won't be cross-browser compatible. That said, the problem in the past that many had with IE non-compliance had more to do with IE's reliance on ActiveX controls in order to implement new features which not only locked you into the browser, but also locked you into a particular OS. And, since Webkit has no OS constraint along with performance improvements attached to Webkit extensions, no one is -- to use the parlance -- kicking over bins over the purported standards non-compliance coming from Webkit.

          Then again, the whole purpose of vendor extensions is for the community to experiment with new features before they become part of the W3C standard. Also, it's important to note that not only does Webkit have its extensions, but Firefox (with -moz-), Opera (with -o-), and even the newest versions of IE (with -ms-) have their own extensions for the purpose of introducing new features out into the wild. And, it seems very few have any problem with this setup.

          • by BZ (40346)

            A lot of people have problems with this setup, precisely because people end up shipping sites that only work in only one browser.

            • Content managers upload code today.

              Most web-designers do not even know how to code today. Usually some intern comes in and cuts and paste word docs into the system and she clicks the upload button. If the content management software was from 2011 it will only include -webkit support.

              Go upgrade? HA, didn't we just blow $50,000 for this just over a year ago! I DONT THINK SO! etc.

              Watch what happens when the W3C decided to make changes to the standard and older webkit engines do not render it properly? It will

              • by Firehed (942385)

                People ought to know that the prefixed attributes are in beta and may change. If they ship that to production anyway, they had better be ready to change it if the standard is updated before the prefix is dropped.

                Fortunately none of the vendor-specific extensions are anything but minor enhancements, so they can't do any serious damage. It's not like W3C is going to redefine a pixel here.

                • by BZ (40346)

                  > People ought to know that the prefixed attributes
                  > are in beta and may change.

                  That would be true if WebKit didn't explicitly promise to never remove or change them. Which they do. So people assume they can use them with no fear.

                  > Fortunately none of the vendor-specific extensions
                  > are anything but minor enhancements,

                  That's just not true for transforms, where not supporting them makes a page done entirely using positioning via transforms totally unreadable.

                  Or for animations where an element i

          • Most of the browser extensions work pretty much the same or exactly the same -- there have been very few exceptions to this (or possibly only one). Extensions would be much easier to deal with - especially when the browsers have produced the same implementation prior to it becoming the spec if we could just use "--new-feature", and if there was an alternate/differing implementation by ms, opera, webkit, or mozilla then a specific extension could override the generic --new-feature as -o-new-feature or -moz-n
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Google for one, which was the reason for the GMaps on Windows Phone brouhaha a few days ago.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          Google for one, which was the reason for the GMaps on Windows Phone brouhaha a few days ago.

          False, Google didn't "only target Webkit", they claimed that GMaps a) was optimized for Webkit (which probably is true) and that b) they blocked Windows Phone users claiming that it wouldn't work (which was provably wrong).

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The funny thing is, the reason developers are targeting WebKit is because of the iPhone (Safari) not because of Chrome.

        If it works in Chrome on Windows, it will work on Safari on the iPhone, without needing to test if it actually works on the iPhone.

        Although that has problems too, as Chrome and Safari use different Javascript implementations, and Google uses an inherently terrible method of sandboxing that wastes extreme amounts of memory. Also Chrome has no 64-bit version on Windows which is a non-starter,

        • If it works in Chrome on Windows, it will work on Safari on the iPhone, without needing to test if it actually works on the iPhone.

          What color is the sky in your world?

        • I can agree with the memory thing, I recently had to add more RAM to my girlfriend's netbook, as some of the crappy coded fashion blogs would use up a whole gigabyte with just a handful of tabs.
      • by BZ (40346) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @11:52AM (#42567633)

        Everyone and their mother designing "mobile" sites. For some big names, Google, Disney, Comcast, DirecTV, Flickr will all sniff whether you're on "mobile" and either serve you WebKit-only sites or detect that you're not using WebKit and serve you totally different, mostly unusable, sites than they do to WebKit-based browsers.

        You should really try using a non-WebKit browser on Android. It's worse than trying to use a non-IE browser in 2000-2001 or so.

        • by rklrkl (554527)

          Er, I use a non-WebKit browser - Firefox Beta - on Android (on my Nexus 7) and I do three things to make it actually nice to surf:

          1. Side-load the Flash Player apk - yes, you can officially download [adobe.com] it despite not being on Google Play any more.

          2. Install the Phony extension and set it to Desktop Firefox mode (because you want desktop versions of sites on tablets, not the mobile versions).

          3. Install the Adblock Plus extension.

          This gives you the best Android tablet browser experience by some considerable dist

    • You make a fairly decent point. Not a good point, just a decent point. But, Webkit doesn't have a history that is anything like Trident. I don't care if Microsoft uses Webkit, Gekho, or something entirely new. Just get rid of Trident.

    • by ikaruga (2725453) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @11:16AM (#42567407)
      Arguing against IE back in the days made sense because it was a closed-source engine controlled by one company with monopolistic policies. Webkit is open source, anyone can implement it anywhere and anyhow they want. What else do you want? If you ask me, webkit could become the web standard itself, and as long as it's renewed every few years for new features(webkit2 is already in the works, btw), I wouldn't care. The only webkit related issue I can think of is the iOS gimped implementation, but that is more of an Apple problem than Webkit problem.
      • by Billly Gates (198444) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @01:21PM (#42568215) Journal

        I do not give a shit whether it is opensource. I do give a shit whether it enslaves the web and enforces another decade of stagnationm [pcmag.com], where we can't move on to HTML 6 and corps lock a special version of Chrome from this decade to support their apps.

        Maybe Android 3.x will be used and corps will downgrade their phones for just that one version 10 years from now if the W3C makes changes that the current webkit does not support. Only Google's way of doing it is different.

        IE 5.5 was cutting edge and MS was inventing new standards and it was the best browser back then. THe problems came when w3c decided to recommend the same standards implemented differently. Then IE 6 did things one way, and Firefox rendered them in another.

        Open source or not I do not want to see that problem again.

        • You keep repeating this same point about "the new IE6".

          I think that the proofs for that have not been established.

          However, if you are not being paid to repeat that statement, then I would suggest that you should consider your point made.

      • by Pieroxy (222434)

        What is the problem with the iPhone browser? Do you mean to say it's worse than the default Android browser?

        Oh my...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In the past many on Slashdot argued vehemently for web standards. It's interesting that a lot of people who used to be pro-web-standard when Microsoft was non-compliant with IE are now saying "hey, we're only going to target webkit because ..."

      The same reasons that applied to avoiding an IE monoculture for web development apply to a webkit monoculture. Rather than bathing in schadenfreude, people should be kicking over bins just like they did with IE to ensure that the most popular implementation follows the standard, not the standard follows the most common implementation.

      Webkit is open source. IE was not.

      The people and companies working on webkit are not trying to kill Mozilla. Hell, the biggest contributor to webkit is Mozilla's largest source of revenue.

      Webkit is used by many browsers on many platforms from many companies (Safari on mac and iOS, Chrome on everything, RIM's blackberry browser, ...). IE was intentionally tied to a single OS.

      WebKit has a long history of respecting standards. There are extensions which are prototypes for future standards, but they are cle

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rdebath (884132)

      I would strongly disagree with this.

      Having a standards committee design the next step in a technical advance is one of the worst ways of working possible. What you usually end up with is a huge conglomeration of random ideas and special interests. For programming the result is frequently described as "feeping creaturitus" [wikipedia.org].

      The reason for web standards is not technical, standards don't help make better mousetraps they exist so that a hundred mice can wrestle the cat into submission. So that the little gu

      • A standards committee is what caused IE 6 inertia.

        The problem is the W3C decided to use a different box model and other things in CSS that IE 5.5 and IE 6 pioneered when it was still new and cutting edge. THe response was websites igoring the W3C due to content managers being older and corps locking IE 6 to this very day to all their users as their apps were made before the new standards were set.

        Chrome just invets shit and throws it out for a pissing contenst for HTML5test.com to make the geeks drool. The

    • It isn't hypocritical at all. You just don't understand the issue. The argument against IE remains for the same reason it has always been there, while the argument against webkit doesn't.exist. Why?: What OS can IE run on? Micro$oft's only. What OS can webkit based browsers run on? All of them! See the difference?
  • No monopoly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:38AM (#42567139)

    I think it's a bad idea to put all your eggs on the same basket.

  • by danhuby (759002) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:39AM (#42567145) Homepage

    As a web application developer, this would certainly make my life much easier. I'd estimate that implementing work-arounds for IE can add 30 to 50% on to the initial HTML/CSS build, and IE specific issues add a fair amount of to ongoing support costs. This is for versions = IE8, I'm not sure if IE9 / 10 are better.

    • by gigaherz (2653757) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:48AM (#42567207)
      IE9 is mostly standards-compliant, and IE10 is better. The days of IE-specific hacks are in the past (or in people stuck with supporting XP clients). If you stick to the supported versions of the browsers (that means Firefox 10 long-term + the newest release Firefox, the latest chrome, IE9 and IE10), you only have very minor differences between browsers, at least when it comes to the standardized feature set. Now if you want to use experimental features, you have to start messing with prefixed identifiers and different implementations, but that would be completely your problem, then, not IE's fault.
      • by danhuby (759002)

        That sounds promising. Unfortunately, at the moment we must still support Windows XP and IE8, but it is good to know that the situation will improve.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          And developing to webkit instead of standards helps you with the XP/IE8 problem how exactly?

      • by BZ (40346)

        Firefox 10 ESR is out of support 6 weeks from now, for what it's worth, with ESR 17 taking over.

        Very true what you say about IE, though. It's trying to handle IE8 and lower that people run into problems with.

      • But IE is not open source. That is a security issue.
  • by Xiph1980 (944189) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:41AM (#42567171)
    Why should Microsoft move to WebKit? I mean, yeah, it's a more secure browser engine perhaps, but it's still their prerogative to use their own. I think it'll be more important for Microsoft -- and any browser (engine) for that matter -- to follow the W3C standard accurately, possibly with their own extensions if they want, but in the basis they should support the standard to make sure web sites render uniformly and accurately over all browsers.
    That'll finally bring more choice to the user, in stead of the pseudo-choice now.
    I prefer opera and have that installed as my default browser, but still have IE and Chrome installed because some websites will only work on either of those. Between the three I can open all sites that I need, but it shouldn't be necessary if all just follow the standards, and consequently, all web sites only need to be written to that standard as well.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357)

      Webkit browsers passed all the acid tests long before Trident ever got close to passing. Trident was the lowest scoring engine, and as far as I know, it is still the lowest scoring.

      Maybe Microsoft has simply given up on ever getting Trident to pass? Maybe they know that Trident can never attain all the standards implemented today, or standards that will be implemented in years to come? Face it man, MS has been working hard in recent years just to get into the same league as all the other modern browsers.

    • by fermion (181285)
      If we take Webkit to be the *nix engine, gecko the cross platform, and Trident the MS WIndows engine, then MS moving to webkit would make no sense for anyone. MS has no reason to make IE cross platform, which it abandoned over a decade ago as it became clear that the internet was not going to become an MS property.

      So given that MS does what MS does, what would happen would be a fork with Webkit for MS Windows. In a way this would not be dissimilar with what happend when Apple came in, but one would ass

    • Wrong approach (Score:5, Interesting)

      by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot&keirstead,org> on Saturday January 12, 2013 @12:33PM (#42567879) Homepage

      Microsoft is a public corporation.

      The default opinion should not be "why SHOULD we switch to webkit", it should be, "why SHOULD we continue to invest tens of millions of dollars per year into developing, testing, and maintaining an engine that does not serve a competitive purpose anymore".

      Trident literally makes Microsoft NO money, and costs them a TON of money. They don't license it. It serves no marketing or branding purpose, because people using IE do not know or care what engine is running their web pages. And the original plan of embrace the web and extend it with trident-specific extensions failed, and doesn't look like it is going to succeed any time soon.

      So, why continue throwing all this money into this sinkhole? That is what I don't understand. As a shareholder, that is the question I would be asking.

      • Re:Wrong approach (Score:4, Insightful)

        by afgam28 (48611) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @03:24PM (#42569105)

        Right....maybe they should switch from using NTOSKRNL.EXE to Linux too. After all, no one cares about the kernel; users and developers only care about the UI and APIs that sit above it. And maybe they could turn Visual C++ into a front-end to LLVM, and have .NET target the JVM. All of these changes would save Microsoft from the trouble of developing several large pieces of software.

        From Microsoft's point of view, of course they should keep Trident development going. I'm surprised this is even being questioned. To do otherwise would be to give control of the web over to Apple and Google. The only reason that Apple and Google care about standards right now is because Microsoft is still a big player in the game. If it was up to Google, they'd be making their own proprietary versions of HTTP, JavaScript and ActiveX ;)

        Then there's Apple - and even though I'm a Linux user, I'm happy that Microsoft is there to keep Apple in check!

        • by brunes69 (86786)

          I know this is flamebait but I'm responding anyway.

          There are many, many differences between swapping the windows kernel and a browser engine. The two largest being...

          - The cost of the development effort to swap out the OS kernel would be at least a hundred fold. Instead of a million, think more like a hundred million.
          - It would break an enormous number of Windows applications relying on kernel apis. Changing from Trident to webkit is not going to real many web apps, they all have to already.

          I still see no c

        • by devent (1627873)

          First of all you are comparing a System Kernel with a Web-Engine.
          I'm a user of Linux myself, and it would be great if Microsoft would port all their Windows APIs to the Linux Kernel.
          But you forget that with a new Kernel you need new drivers. So it wouldn't make sense for Microsoft to ditch all the Nvidia, AMD/ATI, Wireless, etc. drivers.

          But a Web-Engine is something completely different. Nobody would really care at all if tomorrow IE would use Webkit.

          Also, how would Microsoft loss any control if they would

      • [...] an engine that does not serve a competitive purpose anymore

        Trident literally makes Microsoft NO money [...]

        Both false.

        Internet explorer does many things in the Windows/Office universe that no other browser does. Those things make Microsoft money by driving sales of Windows and Office and many other pieces of the Microsoft ecosystem (e.g. Sharepoint, SQL Server, etc.).

        If all your desktops are Windows with Office and IE, you can develop intranet applications that use Office and can make direct calls to Win32. Yes this totally ties your application to Windows and Office, but many businesses are fine with that

        • by brunes69 (86786)

          I am sorry but I think you are living a bit in the past. All of the technologies you are talking about have been deprecated by Microsoft for a long time and are not sold as solutions anymore. They have all been replaced with .Net based solutions. And guess what, .Net runs in Gecko and Webkit as it does in Trident.

          Also, this is all a moot point anyway. Adding ActiveX support to webkit would be a TRIVIAL excersize, compared to developing and supporting an entire browser engine (Trident). So it still makes no

          • They look on the surface like .Net based solutions, but the .net components are thin wrappers around COM. If anything, Microsoft is moving back toward native and away from .net (although they seem admittedly schizophrenic about it.) But that doesn't matter, because one thing we can be sure of is that backward compatibility with COM is not going away. Actually .NET is just the new COM anyway (In fact it started out being called COM 3.0... then they dropped the name).

            As for adding ActiveX support to Webkit,
    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      Right now would be a horrible time to switch to WebKit (besides it being pointless anyway). With IE10 they finally got Trident into a respactable shape and switching to WebKit wouldn't do anything to alleviate the main issue Internet Explorer has - Microsoft's utter disregard for backwards compatibility. IE versions are usually only compatible with the current and previous Windows release, leaving people with older versions of Windows with no upgrade path other than to replace the entire operating system. T
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:44AM (#42567181)

    Trident is getting better with each major release, which is a good thing.

    And Microsoft still has some input towards standards as well, such as the WebRTC spec if I remember correct, or something similar that also had some features missing from it.

    Yeah, you could argue that things would be simpler if there was just ONE thing, the one thing that correctly interprets the specs, but it is also those incorrect spec implementations that have driven competition, driven the creation of new ideas to replace old ones and inspired so many developers to create methods to deal with them in their own ways.
    Not only that, without all this mess, there would be no experimentation with future specs, and all these separate browsers lead to browser prefixes being implemented, even by Microsoft recently.

    The main problem with web dev is most devs are terrible. Admittedly that is mainly a problem with such inconsistency in JavaScript, and HTML allowing spaghetti syntax all over the place.
    And lets not get started on scope. Holy crap, so many people are clueless about it. And again, that it is true globally in any form of programming. Abuse of global namespaces being the biggest headache in all programming, such things that make you want to headbutt your monitor with your fist, a physical impossibility! But damn it I will find a way and collapse the universe just so THEY don't exist!

    The next huge change in JS is going to bring a lot of new features, but also a bunch of changes to the way JS is executed.
    It is going to be a shaky decade when that comes about. But it will be for the better. I hope...

    • by luke923 (778953)

      The main problem with web dev is most devs are terrible. Admittedly that is mainly a problem with such inconsistency in JavaScript, and HTML allowing spaghetti syntax all over the place.

      I wouldn't say they're terrible, but most front-end developers seem to come from a background with classical inheritance, which isn't what Javascript is about. Javascript is about the prototype and method delegation, which can be very elegant when done right; however, most front-end developers don't have enough of an understanding of the language in order to do it right.

      And lets not get started on scope. Holy crap, so many people are clueless about it.

      Again, it's because these people come from a classical background, which forces them to implement crazy hacks in order to work around thei

  • Healthy competition (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TheP4st (1164315)
    IE = healthy competition? I can only presume that the author is a MS shill, alternatively is too young to remember all the anti-competitive moves made by Microsoft during most of Internet Explorers history.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Browser_wars [wikipedia.org]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft [wikipedia.org]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_Microsoft_competition_case [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Billly Gates (198444)

      That was over 10 years ago.

      Lets go to today? Right now webkit is causing problems being this decades IE 6 [pcmag.com] in terms of mobile browsing and HTML 5 and css 3.

      If you own a Windows Phone (I know you do not, but bare with me ..) and go to disney.com or cnn.com will it render correctly? Nope. THey use ---webkit prefixes. HTML5Test.com is part of the problem too as Google is in a pissing match on being the best browser, but what that site doesn't tell you is that these are not implemented the same as W3C drafting p

      • THey use ---webkit prefixes.

        How is this a fault of webkit browsers? This sounds like development teams targeting the least common denominator/platforms their clients use. This speaks more about the budget the web team gets than their lack of ability. Perhaps Microsoft should get off their ass and release a real multiplatform browser if they're so interested in remaining relevant. The main reason for webkit kicking so much ass is it supports many whizzbang features and is extremely popular on both mobile AND desktop platforms. Android

  • Not possible (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @11:01AM (#42567289)

    Trident (or MSHTML) is built on COM+ like everything else in Windows. Bundled with it comes numerous COM interfaces, maybe 100+ in total. Interfaces that are used by the OS all over the place and also by a lot of 3rd party software. To integrate WebKit into Windows would require making it compatible with all those COM interfaces and that is simply not worth the amount of work required.

    Here they are, laid out for all to see...

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh801967(v=vs.85).aspx
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj206442(v=vs.85).aspx

  • Konqueror indeed! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dr. Spork (142693) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @11:05AM (#42567319)
    I wonder if the people who were writing KDE back in the 90's ever suspected that their code would make it so far! If they heard 15 years ago that some Microsoft MVP would be talking about replacing the rendering engine of IE with the rendering engine from Konqueror, they would have shit themselves.
  • No.

    I think that Microsoft should adopt the IEC 60312-1 [google.com] Standard.

    It's the best and fastest way to deliver products that doesn't suck! :-)

  • In the U-turn post, TFA says: "...Microsoft adopting WebKit [means] there wouldn’t be a strong opposing implementation of HTML5 to keep WebKit honest"

    Well who keeps Microsoft honest? It is better for users that they use software that can be independently peer reviewed by the public. The line between a piece of proprietary software and a computer virus is merely an arbitrary choice of what negative side effects you can personally tolerate - both cannot be independently reviewed to see what they are doi

    • by Billly Gates (198444) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @01:40PM (#42568357) Journal

      Webkit is making MS honest.

      Have you tried IE 10? I know the thought probably sends shiver down your spine but I have to say MS really is caring and shaking in their boots. It is a great browser. I fear webkit becoming too dominate at this point and Windows Phone users are whinning they can't view mobile sites as they cater to just webkit.

      I can't advocate openstandards and bash IE 6, yet fully support webkit at the same time. I would be a hypocrite otherwise. What if you want to use FirefoxOS in your next phone? Will you be screwed over? Right now, yes.

      IE has standard behavior now. Since IE 9 it passed all the acid tests. Just because you hate one browser doesn't mean you should support the entrenchment of another or support things like html5test that test non standard non implemented things. It encourages all the things that caused IE to be proprietary when implementations of things like the CSS box model came about locking corporate desktops up for decades.

  • by buddyglass (925859)
    The summary insinuates switching to WebKit would somehow help Microsoft increase its share on mobile and tablets. How? Consider the three main categories of device: Microsoft, Apple and "not Microsoft or Apple":

    Microsoft devices: How many folks are going to buy a mobile or tablet device running some flavor of Windows then install a third party browser rather than use the IE that's available by default? I'd say close to zero.

    Apple devices: Is there even a version of IE available to install on iOS ph
  • by denpun (1607487) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @11:24AM (#42567463)

    There is an update on MVP Bill Reiss's blog now.

    http://www.billreiss.com/follow-up-to-webkit-for-ie-hint-i-was-wrong/ [billreiss.com]

    Seems like he changed his mind. He is now against the idea and has instead suggested allow Win mobile devices to be allowed to change their default browser.
    Sounds like a good idea, effectively making IE, a tool used by the OS that has browsing functionality.

    Effectively what he is saying is that the other browsers, can serve as browsers while IE is now reduced to a tool!

  • So one of the reasons to keep Trident and avoid Webkit is security? They are right, windows is at risk of having security at last, that must be avoided. I think that since IE 1.0 that was the main attack vector, it must be kept alive, else won't be windows anymore.
    • He still has his job... oh wait, not that kind of CEO... Does he have any bruises from the furniture that hit him or is he good at dodging? How many times did he have to allow the stuff to hit him before his job was safe?

  • There are more people using Baidu. Who cares if it works on Windows Phone or not?

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