Sunday, October 22

IE7: Why is Microsoft coming back to IE?

IE3 was an immature product. Microsoft pushed it to compete with Netscape 3. Shortly after IE3 was lunched, IE 4 was published. IE 4 is good, and it was bundled with Windows 98. So since this Internet Browser is coming with the system, user has no reason to download another one. Netscape's market share dropped dramatically after IE4's existence. It brings the close of Netscape company. Netscape was sold to AOL, and was permanently closed. Fortunately, AOL donated the source code to Mozilla, a open source community, and a non-profit organization.

After Netscape was down, Microsoft has no intention to make IE better. IE5 has two special features: A print preview window, and an Internet radio. The print preview window is nonsense, because you have no control to the printing result. Even if the print preview result is not so good, you can not edit the webpage anyway. The Internet radio was cancelled in the later version, and the function was added into Windows Media Player. IE6 might have better security feature, but it is not a big leap from previous version.

At the same time, the Mozilla community was working hard to create a better browser, Firefox, for user experience. Tab Browsing, Ad Blocker and Pop-up Blocker are designed for users. After the Firefox was released in November, 2004, it has dominated 10% of the browser market. When Microsoft noticed the thread of Firefox, it has to develop new IE, 5 years after the previous version was released.

So, after the IE7 was released, the vice president of Mozilla said:"By Microsoft implementing or adding the features that Firefox has popularized, we have made the web a better place. That can only be viewed as a good thing for users(Both IE users and Firefox users)."

Time Line:
Netscape Navigator 1.0: December, 1994
Internet Explorer 3.0: August 13, 1996
Netscape Navigator 3.0: August 19, 1996
Opera 2.0: August 1996 (Shareware)
Netscape Navigator 4.0: June, 1997
Internet Explorer 4.0: September, 1997
Opera 3.0: December 31, 1997
Netscape Navigator 4.08: November, 1998 (Last version of Navigator)
Netscape Communicator 4.5: August, 1998
AOL acquired Netscape: November, 1998
Internet Explorer 5.0: March, 1999
Netscape 6: November 14, 2000
Opera 5.0: December 6, 2000 (Ad-Sponsored)
Internet Explorer 6.0: August, 2001
Netscape 7: August, 2002
AOL closed down Netscape division: July 15,2003
Mozilla Firefox 1.0: November 9, 2004
Opera 8.5: September 20, 2005 (Free version)
Mozilla Firefox 1.5: November 29, 2005
Internet Explorer 7.0: October 18, 2006
Mozilla Firefox 2.0: October, 2006 (planned)
Internet Explorer 8.0: ??
Mozilla Firefox 3.0: May, 2007 (planned)

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