Better Late Than Never

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Just caught Dave MasseyMassy‘s (apologies for the misspelling, Dave) response to some comments of mine from a CNET/ZDNet story back in June. I got linked to the entry from another CNET story here.

The original comment I made was:

“Longhorn isn’t going to be delivered in the timeframe Microsoft originally expected, and users probably can’t wait that long for a stabilized browser. So as a stop-gap move, they are going to shore up IE,” O’Grady said.

His response located here was:

This is not the case at all. As Tony Chor the Group Program Manager for IE said on Channel 9 a couple of months ago there is a renewed effort on Internet Explorer. The immediate focus is on security improvements and you can clearly see great progress there in Windows XP SP2. There are currently no plans to release a new version of Internet Explorer prior to Longhorn when it will be delivered as part of the new OS. As the team completes Windows XP SP2 we are starting to think about what we will deliver as a great browser in Longhorn which is why the feedback now is so useful.

So I think I must be missing something here, as I don’t see where I went wrong. At no point in the quote am I talking about a standalone release of another browser; Microsoft’s been clear on that score, even if I think it’s a significant mistake. What I said was that rather than wait until the release of Longhorn, which is a few years away, they were going to improve – or “shore up” – IE. Which I think jives pretty well with what Dave said. And it’s pretty much what we saw in the security improvements and minor functional alterations (pop-up killing, etc.) issued in SP2. What did we get? A shored up version of IE.

Perhaps it was the word choice – “shore up” isn’t as clear as it could be, but a Google of [definitions:”shore up”] gives the following as related words: “bolster, hold, hold up, prop, prop up, propping up, shore, shoring, shoring up, support, sustain.” Replace is notably absent.

If I’m just being obtuse here, by all means let me know. I would have just posted this as a comment to Massey’s blog, but he has – not unreasonably, given its a few months old – closed comments on that particular post. So to Dave, sorry I missed the opportunity to respond at the time, but you’re on my blogroll now. Better late than never, right?


  1. Hi Stephen,
    I guess I'm probably missing something as well 🙂
    I've just reread your original comment and it still suggests to me that the reason for investment in IE is because people can't wait for Longhorn. The schedule for Longhorn has no real relationship to the reason for investment in IE. Quite simply it is customer demand that is the motivation for our continued investment in Internet Explorer.
    We recognise the clear need for a better browsing experience in Longhorn, especially given that browsing the web is the most common activity on a personal computer. Google has some interesting words there but bolster, prop and the other terms still do not reflect the fact that this is a serious effort to improve the browsing experience. This is not just a temporary effort until Longhorn ships which is the implication I read from your original comments.


    P.S. My name is Massy and not Massey, despite the press story. It's a common mistake that I'm used to.

  2. Ah, ok, that does clarify it a bit for me. The argument is that this is that Longhorn and IE are on different timetables, and hence investments in one shouldn't be construed as a bridge to the other. Fair enough. Can't say I agree, but at least I see where you're coming from now.

    My perspective is that Microsoft is based on the following assumptions:

    1. IE as a standalone offering is done, so 6 will be the last version we see until Longhorn
    2. IE development has suffered in comparison to competing browsers – lacking tabbed browsing, popup blocking, etc for some time now
    3. IE's marketshare declined – if only a fraction of a percentage – as a response to this lack of development and/or security issues
    4. Realizing that consumers can't wait for another full version of the browser – arriving with Longhorn – the current version was improved

    To me, that's a stopgap effort. Not temporary, but a bridge to the Longhorn platform. But assuming you've got the right of it, and the new developments are part of a continued committment to providing a better browsing experience rather than a response to competition, I have only one question. Why did it take so long for Microsoft to add a feature like popup blocking? Wouldn't that have been a clear improvement to the browsing experience years ago?

    P.S. Many apologies on the spelling of your last name. I try to be very careful of that, as it irks me when people spell my name with a v instead of a ph (although I don't mind plain old Steve at all), but clearly missed it. Sorry – won't happen again.

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