Microsoft’s new browser – codenamed “Spartan” after the protagonist in its Halo game series – has been built from the ground up, jettisoning the underlying code from IE.
By doing so, the new browser won’t be compatible with a lot of older web software and services built specifically for IE. This will include the majority of older internal web-based applications used by businesses for admin purposes.
As a consequence IE will live on and be available on Windows 10 as well as Windows 8, 7 and Vista. Businesses that use IE today are unlikely to switch to Microsoft’s new browser any time soon.
“We will continue to make Internet Explorer available with Windows 10 for enterprises and other customers who require legacy browser support,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.
What Microsoft’s new browser, which is due for release with Windows 10 in the summer, will be called is still undecided.
“We’re now researching what the new brand, or the new name, for our browser should be in Windows 10,” said Microsoft’s head of marketing Chris Capossela speaking at the Microsoft Convergence. “We’ll continue to have Internet Explorer, but we’ll also have a new browser, which is codenamed Project Spartan. We have to name the thing.”
Whatever the browser is called (though let’s not rule out Microsoft picking “Internet Explorer 12” after all), the code change signals a big change. Microsoft’s biggest strength – legacy support for almost any and all Windows software – has also been its biggest weakness, holding it back and limiting innovation.
Ditching Internet Explorer wholesale indicates an end to that approach, which could create many headaches for users and corporate IT managers in the next few years with compatibility issues and upgrade hassles.
Apple did a similar thing when it released OS X in March 2001, which replaced OS 9. Developers were forced to rewrite their code, or their applications were forced to run in an emulator, an experience so bad it drove users away. It was a painful break, but a necessary one that stood the company in good stead for both its Mac computers, and later its iOS smartphones and tablets.
A similar move from Microsoft would be even more painful, but could put the company back on the innovating path, which would ultimately be good for users and businesses.
This article was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 18th March 2015 11.44 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010