Mac IE Development Team Dissolved?

Saturday May 13th, 2000

Microsoft has dissolved the Mac IE development team, according to this report at MacInTouch (scroll down to May 11. There are confirmations in the May 12th news). You can read another more detailed confirmation on the MacInTouch front page (which contains their May 13 news).

There is a forum at metafilter discussing what Microsoft's reasoning could be behind the decision.

I find the dynamics of this quite intriguing. The statement of the Microsoft PR person (see the first MacInTouch link) gives an impression that the team is not dissolved, but this view is deemed false by the three independent confirmations. MacCentral has decided to believe the Microsoft PR person.

Who to believe? Does it matter? The fact is that Microsoft doesn't have a cross-platform strategy, even for the two platforms that they support. This was clear when MacIE5 came out and trounced the WinIE development team's efforts. I had been wondering how Microsoft would deal with this situation. Would they continue Mac development on a separate track, duplicating (or surpassing) the efforts of the Win IE team? Or would they attempt a cross-platform effort similar to Mozilla? I didn't expect that they'd dissolve the Mac development effort completely. But, then again, those Apple people are getting a bit uppity, with their iMacs and G4s and new OS...

I think Microsoft will have to come up with some strategy to deal with the fact that their two browser efforts are diverging so drastically. It is very difficult to claim that IE is a solid, consistent development platform when the feature sets on Mac and Windows are so different. And what about web appliances like WebTV? How can MS convince developers to develop across 3 differing browser implementations, especially when Mozilla can offer a consistent cross-platform development environment? I think this might be the first move of Microsoft to address this issue. Whether it means that they give up the Mac platform completely, or just temporarily, I think it shows that even Microsoft has a limit to the number of developers it is willing to commit to a non-revenue-generating enterprise.

BTW... I read the news at Taylor's website, while looking at an interesting piece on "bidirectional links". Why do I mention this? I'm interested to see if mozillaZine shows up on his bidirectional links list!

UPDATE: Another non-denial denial, this time from the IE5 for Mac Program Manager, Jimmy Grewal, in the microsoft.public.inetexplorer.mac newsgroup. However, Jimmy does state that Mac IE developers (not all?) have been moved to another project and that "In fact, we are working on a new release of MacIE that will ship on the MacOS X CD." However, it's important to note that nothing he says is contrary to what the sources at MacInTouch say, and it sounds quite like what the PR guy stated at MacInTouch (just more verbose).

#6 That's not the point

by mpt <>

Sunday May 14th, 2000 7:25 AM

You are replying to this message

MacIE does have a native UI -- native in letter (using the system GUI tools), if not in spirit (using the system GUI appearance). It's not as native as, say, the UI for iCab (which, with the exception of its toolbar icons, is simply gorgeous); but it is native.

What sort of difference does a native UI make? The devil is in the details.

A native UI pays attention to the colors and fonts chosen by the user in the Appearance Manager. Mozilla does not.

In a native UI, context menus go `clink' when you open and close them (if you have sounds turned on). Mozilla's context menus, on the other hand, go `plop', as if they're windows instead of menus (because on the XPToolkit level, they really are windows rather than menus).

In a native UI, when the app is running in the background but needs some input from you reasonably urgently (like a username and password to open a Web page, for example), a little popup window (on Mac OS 8.x) or windoid (on Mac OS 9.x) comes up saying `{app name} requires your attention. Please bring it to the front'. Mozilla does not, because it doesn't tell Mac OS that the authentication window is a dialog.

These are the little details which Macintosh users *expect* from a well-behaved application. Eventually they can be simulated or reimplemented in Mozilla, but it will take a long time -- time which, *perhaps*, could have been better spent on coding a native UI in the first place.

And in the meantime, Macintosh users are regarding Mozilla (in the form they've seen it, i.e. Netscape 6 PR1) as, as one forum poster put it, `a pile of poo'.

-- mpt (Mozilla user interface QA)