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).

#9 Open Source, Mac, and entitlement

by mozineAdmin

Sunday May 14th, 2000 8:32 AM

You are replying to this message

I think we should be clear...

Mac users *could* have a native Mac UI for Mozilla, if any Mac developers out there felt like contributing. It's happening for Windows (through use of Adam Lock's HTML Rendering control). It's happening for Linux (through the embeddable renderer). But no Mac developer has contributed to getting something similar for the Macintosh. They either don't care, or they expect it to happen for them.

This is an Open Source project. There are no entitlements. You either put in the effort, or you resign yourself to the results.

Mozilla either follows the path it's taking (where cross-platform consistency is key), or they fall victim to the same problems that IE still has - no consistent development platform. Try to develop a website using the benefits of Windows IE (use an ActiveX control, for example), and it won't work anywhere but on Windows IE. Try to develop a site using Web standards that Mac IE5 supports, and it won't work on WinIE5 (or 5.5). Develop for Mozilla (or Web standards), and it will work on any platform that has a Mozilla browser. I think that's a rather compelling point. (Probably even more compelling for Web Appliance manufacturers!)

In Mike Pinkerton's words, if Netscape had to develop native UIs for each platform, it probably wouldn't have done so. They would have instead diverted their attention to Windows, because they simply don't have the resources. The issue has been hashed over again and again in the newsgroups, and people like Peter Trudelle have said the exact same thing.

But, let's assume that the above scenario *did* happen, and Netscape's Mozilla effort focused solely on Windows. Would the Mac developer community have picked up the slack and gone forward with a Mac-native UI? I think it's safe to say no, because even when the issue is staring them in the face, no developer has taken on the task. All the issues that you mention in your post? The Mac Open Source development community hasn't even stepped forward and said, "let's get these issues taken care of, so that even if it is a simulated interface, it interacts with the OS services properly". Do you think the current Mac Mozilla development team *wouldn't* address these issues if they had more time (or more developers) at their disposal?

I think Mac users should be happy they're getting any Mozilla development at all for their platform. The Mac Open Source development community (if it even exists) seems to have better things to do.