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Should Microsoft Switch To WebKit?

timothy posted about a year ago | from the all-the-cool-kids dept.

Chrome 244

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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Polishing a turd. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567115)

Now if Microsoft would switch to something other than Windows 8 and RT, maybe companies like Samsung wouldn't be abandoning them in droves. And yet they get a multimillion dollar contract from the miilitary for the same crap and no one even thinks about investigating it...

It's a silly proposition (4, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | about a year ago | (#42567133)

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

(Ditto about Windows 8, many would say.)

Re:It's a silly proposition (3, Insightful)

Xiph1980 (944189) | about a year ago | (#42567215)

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 wanting to change our opinion of browsers. Be it Firefox, Chrome, Opera, or whatever way you browse the web.

Just because you don't like a certain interface, doesn't make it shitty.

Re:It's a silly proposition (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567223)

you are dumb.

Re:It's a silly proposition (5, Interesting)

cbhacking (979169) | about a year ago | (#42567251)

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!

Re:It's a silly proposition (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | about a year ago | (#42567675)

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

Re:It's a silly proposition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567783)

Ctrl+Tab/LastTab/... is a mandatory addon for Firefox. I wish they would just change the default.

Re:It's a silly proposition (4, Interesting)

cbhacking (979169) | about a year ago | (#42568265)

Yeah. For the record, I'm aware that I can get all of these features, and then some, using enough Firefox extensions (although the implementation isn't always as polished). However, I appreciate the fact that they're built in, and that I don't have to worry if they're going to conflict, or leak RAM, or be broken by some update (less of an issue now). Still, I definitely keep Firefox installed. In fact, I keep all of the major browsers except Safari installed (I view Safari as offering basically nothing in exchange for its crap UI and since I don't have a Mac, I can't get the latest version anyhow). Chrome is "Safari (or more specifically, WebKit), but with a few more features and a slightly less-awful interface." Firefox is "Firebug and Gecko and don't open too many tabs or you'll have to restart it." Opera is "ALL THE FEATURES and Yet Another Rendering Engine but WHY are the keyboard shortcuts different from every other browser?"

Obviously, the above is over-simplified... Firefox loses points (and value) by being single-process, but despite being multi-process IE also starts to struggle if you open too many tabs at once (and it's not system resources, it's just the browser acting up). I actually use Opera as my secondary browser - I really do like the less-minimal interface; I think the thing that honestly pisses me off most about IE is the removal of the title bar - but no matter how often or how much I use it, its commands always feel just a little alien to me (I may use the keyboard more than most people do when browsing).

Re:It's a silly proposition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567845)

So, basically, everything that was in Opera for years?.. Well, except for colored tabs, granted.

Re:It's a silly proposition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567957)

Features Opera has had for years

Re:It's a silly proposition (5, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#42567321)

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!"

Re:It's a silly proposition (4, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | about a year ago | (#42568165)

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.

Re:It's a silly proposition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567669)

But, the interface of which version? It's changed over the years and recent versions are not 100% consistent.

Re:It's a silly proposition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567769)

If we go by majority, many would say it shitty...:)

Re:It's a silly proposition (2, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#42567995)

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 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.

As for TFA lets call a spade a spade, shall we? google needs their asses spanked for the redirect bullshit they have been pulling of late. If MSFT made all THEIR websites dump you into shitty mode if you didn't use the latest IE we'd be hearing screams of antitrust, but Google can pull the same shit and not a peep? bullshit, utter bullshit. I was against the "works best in IE" horseshit and I'm against the "works best in Webkit" horseshit, Google is making billions off the ads and data-mining they do in Chrome and this should be treated as what it is noncompetitive behavior. If the browser supports the features then they should work PERIOD and having to hack strings like its 1999 all over again is bullshit.

I use a webkit based browser (Comodo Dragon) but even I don't want a world where the only engine we have is webkit, that is how we get nasty zero days that can infect the whole damned planet. Did we not learn anything from IE 6?

Re:It's a silly proposition (3, Interesting)

Tei (520358) | about a year ago | (#42567323)

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).

Re:It's a silly proposition (1)

duguk (589689) | about a year ago | (#42567651)

...and Webkit has a terrible rendering engine. Sounds like an appropriate combination.

Re:It's a silly proposition (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about a year ago | (#42567665)


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

Arguments of convenience (5, Insightful)

blarkon (1712194) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Arguments of convenience (2)

danhuby (759002) | about a year ago | (#42567167)

Who are these people that are only targeting Webkit?

Re:Arguments of convenience (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567213)

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.

Re:Arguments of convenience (4, Informative)

luke923 (778953) | about a year ago | (#42567437)

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.

Re:Arguments of convenience (2)

BZ (40346) | about a year ago | (#42567617)

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

Re:Arguments of convenience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567705)

really? anything to back that up?

Re:Arguments of convenience (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567347)

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

Re:Arguments of convenience (1, Troll)

Plumpaquatsch (2701653) | about a year ago | (#42568387)

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:Arguments of convenience (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567435)

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, where as MSIE does have a a 64-bit version. Chrome and other 32-bit only browsers are rapidly going to hit a memoryspace wall should there be some shift in the way graphics resolution comes along. We see this problem already on the Retina displays, as the browser engines become unable to deal with pages that are wider than 1000 pixels (let me ask... how many people actually run their web browser full screen? Probably nobody.) Imagine now UHDTV at 7680 × 4320 that's over 7 times wider. So right now the only released Windows browser that can conceivably render a UHDTV native web page is in fact 64-bit MSIE.

Someone needs to slap around the Chrome engineers and tell them the pre-fork model is dead.

Re:Arguments of convenience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567793)

No developer I ever have worked with has targetted chrome to get iphones "for free". Then again I tend to work with people who are competent at their job, and would think it silly to assume chrome and safari are the same. Those same people also still despise MS for having objectively the worst popular browser in the world. That is not likely to change until IE 9 is nothing but a terrible nightmare from the past.

Re:Arguments of convenience (4, Interesting)

BZ (40346) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Arguments of convenience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42568361)

Guilty as charged.

Slashdot likes lives in a basement pollyanna where everyone codes to "standards" and all browsers perfectly support the "standards". But, just as with IE6, the unpleasant reality is mobile browsers are loaded with bugs and proprietary extensions and "W3C proposals". You can either deal with it or go back to coding table-sites that work on netscape 3.

Just getting stuff to work on a crappy (webkit-based) browser like Android 2.x was enough of a pain in the ass. Apologies that we do not have infinite budgets to support your favorite unpopular mobile platform, e.g. Windows Phone 7 or Firefox/Android. (although it actually works ok on WP8)

Re:Arguments of convenience (1)

pentadecagon (1926186) | about a year ago | (#42567297)

Of course it is about convenience, in fact convenience is always goal, and standards are just one way to get there. Having a common implementation is a much faster way to get there. In fact you compare Apples and Oranges here. IE was proprietary and MS had a monopoly. Webkit is both open and free. And when three competing companies (Microsoft, Google, Apple) are working together on Webkit it's hardly a monopoly.

Re:Arguments of convenience (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#42567343)

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.

Re:Arguments of convenience (4, Insightful)

ikaruga (2725453) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Arguments of convenience (4, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | about a year ago | (#42568215)

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.

Re:Arguments of convenience (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567645)

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 clearly marked as such with vendor prefixes. If you don't believe me, read their mailing list. IE drew no line between standard and non-standard. From the trial we learned that this was an intentional strategy to kill competitors.

Webkit is nothing like IE in terms of standards compliance. I don't want a monoculture, but comparing webkit to IE is silly.

Re:Arguments of convenience (2, Insightful)

rdebath (884132) | about a year ago | (#42567819)

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 guys can make stuff too and they don't get forced out of the market by a brute who can throw either money or lawyers around to kill off the competition.

If webkit became "the web browser" this would be no different from (for example) the single source of the Perl language. There wouldn't be the problem of the secret Trident, where nobody can compete or the technology can be politically leveraged to for the use of other software (eg an OS). Because, being freely forkable, if the current maintainers don't support an environment patches against the source can be added by others. What's more if the maintainers make enough of a fuckup they can be force out completely.

But there is a problem for Microsoft; several years ago they claimed that IE was an essential component of their OS and they very hurriedly tried to make sure that this wasn't a complete lie. Because of this lots of parts of the OS now use DLLs and libraries from IE to do simple jobs or use IE as a local display processor. The result is that Microsoft will have a difficult job removing IE and it's html engine, so much so that it's probably easier for them to fix IE than to navigate the maze of interdepartmental politics that would be involved in removing it.

Re:Arguments of convenience (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | about a year ago | (#42568241)

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 W3C can do something different and then you have incompatibility. Chrome might as well keep their proprietary hacks ---webkit in order not to break these mobile sites. Its 2003 all over again!

No monopoly (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567139)

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

Re:No monopoly (0)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year ago | (#42567277)

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

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

Re:No monopoly (-1)

pentadecagon (1926186) | about a year ago | (#42567307)

Webkit is open source and completely free software, so by definition it cannot be a monopoly.

Re:No monopoly (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567371)

Do you honestly think there isn't a governing board which dictates what can and cannot be added, feature wise, into webkit? If you think so, wow, it must be nice to live in such a fantasy land.

One implementation is fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567141)

Most programming languages have one de facto implementation, and that works out just fine.

Since WebKit isn't controlled by a single company, but is essentially an independent organization concerned only with fully implementing defined standards and developing cool new technology for the web, I think we would do well to have their engine as the foundation of any browser.

It'd make my life easier (3, Informative)

danhuby (759002) | about a year ago | (#42567145)

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.

Re:It'd make my life easier (3, Informative)

gigaherz (2653757) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:It'd make my life easier (1)

danhuby (759002) | about a year ago | (#42567241)

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:It'd make my life easier (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567359)

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

Re:It'd make my life easier (1)

luke923 (778953) | about a year ago | (#42567487)

Not really since most places still target IE7 due to a still relatively large XP userbase. IE continues to improve; however, unless you're on Win8, you won't see IE10 and you'd still be stuck with the broken box model in IE9.

Re:It'd make my life easier (2)

cbhacking (979169) | about a year ago | (#42568331)

IE10 is available for Win7. It's technically a "preview" release, but I use both Win7 and Win8, and IE10 behaves the same on both. It's the most release-candidate-level software I've ever seen go for more than a week without actually being released (it became available over a month ago).

Re:It'd make my life easier (1)

BZ (40346) | about a year ago | (#42567643)

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.

Re:It'd make my life easier (1)

freezin fat guy (713417) | about a year ago | (#42567253)

This is for versions = IE8, I'm not sure if IE9 / 10 are better.

They are better than 8 although 9 is outdated and continues to hinder the adoption of HTML5.

Re:It'd make my life easier (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about a year ago | (#42568431)

IE 10 is very close to being released. In a few months when MS puts it in WIndows Update you will see IE 9 die out fast.

Remember Webkit has hacks in it for CSS 3 and the W3C are still working out implementations on all but the most basic feature set that IE 9 has. IT is still new technology and by next end of the year HTML 5.1 and CSS 3.1 will cement it.

At this point that and jquery no longer supporting IE 8, you will see it die. By 2014, it will be the next IE 6 hopefully. Once IE 8 gets near 5% usage we can start to see next generation sites on non-mobile platforms.

Re:It'd make my life easier (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42568061)

> I'd estimate that implementing work-arounds for IE can add 30 to 50% on to the initial HTML/CSS build,

WTF? To be blunt perhaps the problem is not with IE if it's taking you that long every time. In my experience there's a list of maybe 5 things you need to do for any site to get it working in IE7/IE8 (and for IE9/10 the effort is no more than making sure it works on any other modern browser), and they're always the same.

I find Trident faster than WebKit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567151)

I've been using IE 10 for a while now under Windows 8, and I have to say that I find it a lot more responsive than Chrome, and they're both a lot faster than Firefox. Firefox is dog slow! The only browser that might be faster is Opera, but nobody really uses it.

I'm probably going to be labeled a "Microsoft shill" now for not being totally against modern IE. But before you toss around accusations like those, I wish that you'd at least give it a try for yourself. Allow yourself to see how fast and usable it has become.

Re:I find Trident faster than WebKit. (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#42567379)

Perhaps you misunderstood everything you read on the subject.

No one seems to be suggesting that Microsoft adopt Chrome, or Chromium. Both of those browsers belong to Microsoft's competition. What does NOT belong to the competition, is the ENGINE that underlies Chrome, Chromium, Safari, Arora, Bolt,

Oh here, just read the list for yourself, it's pretty long:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_web_browsers#WebKit-based [wikipedia.org]

Re:I find Trident faster than WebKit. (3, Insightful)

BZ (40346) | about a year ago | (#42567663)

Actually, in a very real sense the engine _does_ belong to the competition. To actually get your code landed in WebKit you have to convince the current project maintainers (mostly Google and Apple) to accept it.

Which means that if you want to do something that Google and Apple don't (both, often!) approve of, you have to maintain it as a separate branch and deal with the merge pain. No different from other projects where you have to collaborate with others, but a lot different from having control over the code as Microsoft does with Trident right now.

Re:I find Trident faster than WebKit. (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#42568085)

The only browser that might be faster is Opera, but nobody really uses it.

I wonder if Opera is going to experience a slow death. The browser feels like the ages-old Opera engine with some new HTML features hacked in every now and then. It carries the weird old bag of settings, like detailed font configuration (but because of CSS they have almost no effect!) and the "redraw page after x seconds" (an awkward which does not even seem to have any effect). No multithreaded tabs, poor extensions. Sigh. Well, it is quite fast actually.

Diversity is good (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567155)

More different browser engines is a good thing. Monoculture has bad consequences.

Well ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567159)

... and a need for healthy competition to avoid having mobile developers begin to target WebKit rather than standards.

Sure, targeting the multiple flavors of IE as well as WebKit and "standards" is better? How about we straighten all this shit out so web developers can concentrate on the important stuff, like more dancing babies and flying toasters.

If more is better than why do we even want standards?

Re:Well ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567305)

All browser rendering engines should be standards compliant and compatible. That doesn't mean they should all use the same code.
Developers should not be coding to the browser, but to the standard.

Re:Well ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42568325)

But coding to the standard means no browsers will render it properly unless it's so simple that it's uninteresting.

Microsoft != a healthy competition (0, Troll)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about a year ago | (#42567161)

Microsoft most likely won't provide "healthy competition". History has shown that they are on the same low level as Apple when it comes to competetion.

Don't fool yourselves.

Re:Microsoft != a healthy competition (3, Insightful)

cnettel (836611) | about a year ago | (#42567283)

Yes, they are on the same level, but the point in healthy competition is that you do not rely on the benevolent actions of the parties involved. A Microsoft and an Apple, with the same inherent company values and attitudes, are far better for the marketplace than just having either of them.

No, they simply should adhere to the standards. (5, Insightful)

Xiph1980 (944189) | about a year ago | (#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:No, they simply should adhere to the standards. (1, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#42567417)

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.

Webkit blows Trident away. Why WOULDN'T Microsoft take advantage of a more modern engine? It will save them tons of money!

Re:No, they simply should adhere to the standards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567779)

How hard would it have been to check before you wrote that? IE 9 and 10 both pass Acid 3 with 100/100.
IE 9 came out almost 2 years ago.

Re:No, they simply should adhere to the standards. (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#42567893)

Pretty hard, if he's not posting from a Windows machine of some flavor.

I'd hate to see Trident go, just because diversity and competition is nice. If they abandon it, I hope they open source it.

Re:No, they simply should adhere to the standards. (0)

Jaktar (975138) | about a year ago | (#42567785)

I just ran Acid3 on IE10 and Palemoon 15.3.2-x64. Both achieved 100/100. That said, I only use IE10 when some site doesn't work properly in Palemoon.

Re:No, they simply should adhere to the standards. (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#42567739)

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 assume that MS would have no incentive to resolve the problem.

The advantage with IE with respect to MS is that MS completely controls IE. MS has the resources to develop IE. MS Can make IE do whatever it wants. Right now it is MS interest to be standards based. There is no reason to believe that this interest will continue forever. If MS relinquishes control of IE in favor of an OSS browser, and convinces everyone to use it, then it loses the control it has over customers. And it still has control over customers. There are still plenty of developments that require IE>

Wrong approach (4, Interesting)

brunes69 (86786) | about a year ago | (#42567879)

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:No, they simply should adhere to the standards. (2)

Jesus_666 (702802) | about a year ago | (#42568179)

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. Thus web designers need to support ancient IE versions because they simply won't drop below the "we can afford to ignore this" margin for years after they've become obsolete.

IE/WebKit would be just as much of a standards-retarding nightmare as IE/Trident is, not because of the engine but because of Microsoft's policy on backports.

No, and I love Webkit. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#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...

Re:No, and I love Webkit. (2)

luke923 (778953) | about a year ago | (#42567583)

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 their lack of understanding of prototypal languages like Javascript. When you combine that with having to deal with IE quirks, you get MacGyvered code -- you know, code held together with bubble gum and paper clips -- that pollutes the global namespace at every turn.

never gonna happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567191)

microsoft absolutely hates to admit defeat, especially publicly.

i can imagine the internal turmoil over whether to give the next gen xbox console a bluray drive (and with it, royalties to the enemy).

trident will soldier on, for better or worse until the end of days.

Yes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567201)

and so should mozilla.

Healthy competition (2, Interesting)

TheP4st (1164315) | about a year ago | (#42567205)

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:Healthy competition (3, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | about a year ago | (#42568315)

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 process.

In an open web you should be able to use the OS and browser you choose. What if you want to use a FirefoxOS phone? Will these sites still feed ---webkit specific code? THe answer is yes and you will have to click desktop version on it.

Don't you see a problem with that?

Recently, IE 10 is a great browser with good HTML 5 and CSS 3 and standards support. MS had to change as it is not the monster it once was. Google is just as evil and we all know Apple is after watching Samsung leave the US market due to crazy patent lawsuits.

Webkit is too prevalient in my opinion. We need more engines so webmasters wont do anything stupid and vendors do not get greedy and do anything stupid as well. Webkit is bringing flashbacks from IE 5. Remember at one time it was the best browser too and was just starting to convert Netscape users at the time. Chrome is the way point today.

A need for healthy competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567245)

Oh yeah, Microsoft has a looong history of promoting that. I say if they're down keep kicking them. They've earned it.

abbreviation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567247)

Sooo... ''Microsoft MVP'' is M$ vs people i guess.

Not possible (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#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...


Konqueror indeed! (4, Insightful)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Konqueror indeed! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42568289)

I'm largely disinterested in tech politics (rah rah apathy!), but WebKit is a wonderful success story proving that private companies can help the open source community challenge even the most entrenched closed source software.

Imagine if OpenOffice/LibreOffice had been the beneficiary of the same amount of help from Apple, Google, et al.

Sigh, one can dream...

Should Microsoft Switch To WebKit? (1)

Lisias (447563) | about a year ago | (#42567331)


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! :-)

Ditch HTML5 for stronger web and user protection (1)

Marcion (876801) | about a year ago | (#42567341)

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 doing. So getting rid of proprietary software for open source software is always a win.

There are plenty of other alternatives to webkit, Mozilla's gecko being the most competitive. Ditching HTML5 would also make writing Javascript a lot easier, since currently a lot of wrapper code is always required to cope with Internet Explorer's non-standard behaviour.

Re:Ditch HTML5 for stronger web and user protectio (4, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | about a year ago | (#42568357)

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.

No (1)

buddyglass (925859) | about a year ago | (#42567357)

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 phones and tablets? If so, what Apple device user is going to install and use it instead of the default Safari that's already available? More over, for the switch to WebKit to "matter" there would need to be folks who would not download and use a Trident-based IE who would download and use a WebKit-based IE. Does such a person exist?

"Other" devices: Basically Android. Same questions as above. Same answers. I can't think of anyone who would download and use IE on Android unless there were some specific website they wished to use that was incompatible with the default Chrome browser but worked with IE.

+1 put it to a vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567421)

The challenge in the short term is keeping thier existing engine working so that users depending on MS behavior are not left in the cold. The other option for them is to release a 'new' browser and name it something else.

"trident secure, standards compliant" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567461)


Went back on his suggestion (3, Interesting)

denpun (1607487) | about a year ago | (#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!

why stop with the engine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567539)

how nice would it be if they built their OS based on one of the BSD/Linux flavors!

Webkit equals crashes? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567727)

If Safari on iPad is webkit based, can't say I'm too impressed. Crashes out frequently, despite my having done a reset/reload of iOS back to factory image. As do a number of other web browsers and apps (including the App Store app itself) which are all presumably built on top of the same underlying web foundation/tools. Suppose it could be that the iPad (1) is getting old enough to be suffering intermittent hardware issues, but demanding 3D games run fine/stable on it... Very frustrating for an otherwise superb tablet.

Diversity is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567747)

Competition between multiple equal players is a good force for standardisation.

But who asks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567771)

Microsoft? Then yes, that would save them.
Rest of the world? Then no, everybody wants to see microsoft dead.

Monocultures are bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42567803)

Don't make it any easier for the bad guys to take over everyone's browsers in one throw.

Security? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#42567829)

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.

Symbol on main page should be an Apple not Chrome (1)

cashxx (1882268) | about a year ago | (#42567929)

The symbol on the heading on the main page should be an Apple for webkit not Chrome. Chrome uses webkit, but webkit is Apple's.

Microsoft should just FOSS Trident. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42568145)

Right now, it's just losing money and with HTML5 it's EXTREMELY unlikely anyone will be developing any browser specific code in the foreseeable future.
So, if it was me, I would just open source Trident and it's older versions. At the very least the Maxthon guys (and just about any Chinese browser) will work on it. Half a year later both WebKit and Gecko should become mostly\fully compatible without Microsoft lifting a finger or spending a dime.
Then, they can move to whatever engine they want if they still want to.

Hell, if they still want\need some branding or special tweaking done, they can even fork WebKit or Gecko*.

* See: Debian IceWeasel...

M$ should not be allowed to switch to Webkit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42568313)

For those who don't remember, the strategy at M$ has always been to embrace, extend, and finally extinguish. M$ used that tactic to extinguish Netscape, Wordperfect, and many others. M$ is using that tactic in their feeble attempt to extinguish free software and M$ would continue to use that tactic to extinguish Webkit if they have their chance. Do not ever trust convicted monopolists such as M$.

Friends don't help friends install M$ junk
Friends do assist M$ addicted friends in committing suicide.

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