Space Ramblings

Microsoft’s 2009 Browser Strategy

Despite Microsoft’s OS monopoly and later its browser monopoly, Microsoft never really got the internet. Before the internet took off and Bill Gates got busy writing books and delivering keynote addresses about the future of business on the internet, he was busy dismissing the internet as irrelevant. How could someone so smart be that stupid? For starters it’s arguable that Bill Gates is smart, it’s more accurate to say that he has some ruthless cunning which has made Microsoft the company it is, accompanied by a major blind spot which is Microsoft’s contempt for its customers and its accompanying inability to see that they might want something more than Redmond is offering, until it falls on their heads.

And so despite destroying Netscape and turning their inferior Internet Explorer browser into another monopoly, Microsoft never got the internet and never had a clue what to do with it. Despite using MSN as its default browser homepage, Microsoft is still struggling with the whole content thing and trying to buy Yahoo. And despite destroying Netscape, Microsoft is frantically playing catch up with Firefox and coming up second best. In 2009, the Firefox 3 vs Internet Explorer 8 showdown will hit and even out of the gate, IE8 looks like another also-ran. It may not be as big a disaster as IE7 was, a virtually unusable browser designed for the mentally disabled, but it is pointless.

WebSlices sound great at industry meetings but Microsoft no longer has the leverage it did and WebSlices in practice sound like they’ll be annoying and useless. ACR is a feature Firefox has had for a long time. The tab controls seem to have improved and like Firefox 3’s Places, Internet Explorer 8 is turbocharging its bookmarks, regardless if they call them Links or Favorites or Places, they’re still bookmarks. But much of this misses the point and while IE8 doesn’t look like IE7, it instead begins to resemble Netscape circa Version 4.0 at which point Netscape began shoving in every stupid idea for a feature in order to compete with Microsoft and created a bloated package. By Netscape’s last version on paper the browser sounded like it could do everything but make toast, but in practice was a bloated mess and no one does bloatware like Redmond.

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