Perpetual follower: Microsoft mulls Apple’s WebKit for Internet Explorer

“Addressing a developer conference in Sydney Australia, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the idea of using WebKit as the rendering engine within its web browser was ‘interesting’ and added ‘we may look at that,'” Prince McLean reports for AppleInsider.

MacDailyNews Note: WebKit was originally derived by Apple Inc. from the Konqueror browser’s KHTML software library for use as the engine of Mac OS X’s Safari web browser. The WebKit framework is used by Omniweb, Shiira, iCab, Adobe AIR, Google Chrome, iPhone and other mobile phones, Nokia’s Series 60 browser, Google’s Android platform and Torch Mobile’s Iris Browser. As of September 2008, latest nightly builds of WebKit pass the Acid3 test with pixel-perfect rendering and no timing or smoothness issues on reference hardware.

McLean reports, “A student attendee “put Ballmer on the hot seat by asking, ‘Why is IE still relevant and why is it worth spending money on rendering engines when there are open source ones available that can respond to changes in Web standards faster?'”

“‘That’s cheeky, but a good question, but cheeky,’ Ballmer replied, according to a report by TechWorld. Ballmer explained that Microsoft would need to consider the future of the browser and determine if there is any lack of innovation for the company to capitalize upon with ‘proprietary extensions that broaden its functionality,'” McLean reports.

MacDailyNews Take: With “proprietary extensions that broaden its functionality” in order to lock-in users and/or web developers.

McLean continues, “‘There will still be a lot of proprietary innovation in the browser itself so we may need to have a rendering service,’ Ballmer said, adding, ‘Open source is interesting. Apple has embraced Webkit and we may look at that, but we will continue to build extensions for IE 8.'”

MacDailyNews Take: “We will continue to build extensions for IE 8” in an attempt to keep the sheep in the pen.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “James W.” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: Apple leads. Microsoft follows. As usual.

MacDailyNews Note: Net Applications’ current October 2008 usage share figures for browsers accessing their network of over 40,000 websites:
• Microsoft Internet Explorer – 71.27% (vs. Oct. 2004: 85.78%)
• Firefox – 19.97% (vs. Oct. 2004: 9.10%)
• Safari – 6.57% (vs. Oct. 2004: 2.65%)


  1. But can Microsoft follow WITHOUT completely screwing it up? No. Microsoft is the obnoxious know-it-all kid struggling to keep up with the rest of the hikers, knows a “better way,” and then ends up needing a helicopter to get them out. Stay the heck off the hike!

  2. IE is the WORST browser in the market. Whatever you build with universal open standards, will NOT work on IE.

    Those “proprietary innovations” are nothing but a headache for web app developers. You need to double develop: Once for the world, once for IE.

    Just adopt WebKit,or Gecko, or whatever is open and TRASH whatever “innovative” you might have. It’s worthless and pointless!!

  3. Following Ballmer down the brown road that is the skid marks in Gate’s shorts, undeniably Microsoft’s future.

    I Don’t really want MS to borg Webkit for their own use as they’ll do their normally thing of trying to force it into a Microsoftian controlled standard..

  4. “Ballmer explained that Microsoft would need to consider the future of the browser and determine if there is any lack of innovation for the company to capitalize upon with ‘proprietary extensions that broaden its functionality’


    He seriously said that with a straight face??

    Despite their supposed “interoperability initiative”, Ballmer’s mindset is clearly as stuck in the dinosauric past as ever, looking at WebKit as a means to a monopolistic end, rather than actually looking to work with the larger community. He still doesn’t get it.

    In other words, the more Microsoft claims they’re changing, the more they’re clearly staying exactly the same, and any potential move to WebKit won’t really change that.

  5. I see no reactions to Ballmer possibly considering a “rendering service”.

    If I understand this correctly, it would mean that users would need to rely on a Microsoft website to display pages that use proprietary code (think client side Visual Basic or worse).

  6. When a dinosaur gets stuck in a tar pit it wails and thrashes before it dies. The Microsoftsaur is in hot tar up to is armpits and is bellowing as loudly as it can as it struggles for survival. Vultures are circling overhead ready to pick it bones clean when it succumbs.

    I despise those websites that are proprietary to IE. I hope they have to spend a fortune fixing their non-standard, proprietary crap.

  7. We have more problems with IE than with Firefox to be sure. But seriously, Safari for windows smokes either of them for sheer speed and smarts, like loading parts of cached pages and making them available while waiting for live content to load.

  8. My wife has a home daycare and is enrolled in a special government program that re-imburses her for food purchases (basically, it gives her exactly the amount a tax write-off would be so it’s really just the government giving her the money up front instead after filing taxes and getting it in the form of a refund).

    Anyway, there are two ways to enter data into the system. One is one with a No. 2 pencil and the other is via a web-based interface.

    The much easier and faster computer method of course won’t work with anything but Explorer. I called the company that makes the software and they got pissed at me for even suggesting that open web standards would include about 30 percent more of the market that doesn’t use Explorer.

    He said they were an independent company and that they could develop it anyway they liked. I asked him if they had any customers who weren’t government entities, and after a long pause he admitted that they didn’t.

    So now I’ve installed XP on my Macbook — something I swore I’d never do.

    Die, Microsft. Die.

  9. It doesn’t matter what browser engine MS puts in IE. B/c IE is the standard browser on Windows computers, it’ll still be used by tons of people by default. So the biggest issue for MS is websites that have been ‘optimized’ for IE will seem ‘broken’ if they switch to a different browser engine. If i were MS, that’d be my biggest worry.

  10. Better late than never. I for one, would be glad to see Microsoft’s Internet Exploiter to start recognizing web standards of operation. I have been so sick of web sites made with Microsoft products not being compliant, and so, not viewable with anything else.

    The more that Windows users start thinking about other browsers, the more that we Mac users can view their sites. However Ballmer saying that we might look into it doesn’t mean squat.

  11. My company develops educational software, mostly with funding from the U.S. government. Any grant or contract with the federal government requires software developed to be cross platform. However, that does not apply to the government’s own web sites. Many sites that deal with grant applications and such require the use of IE. If you have Mac, their FAQs helpfully tell you, you must buy a copy of Windows and run it on your Mac if you want to apply for government funding. Is it just me, or does it seem a bit odd (ironic, hypocritical) that the same government that went after MS’s monopoly requires people to buy MS products?

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.