Microsoft will not create a new version of Internet Explorer for Macs in a move that leaves Apple users in an uncomfortable spot.
Jimmy Grewal, the Microsoft Mac IE lead, is fleeing Redmond and heading to Dubai due to the browser's termination. Microsoft is saying it will provide some updates to IE 5 for Macs but does not plan to release an IE 6. It reckons users are in good hands with Apple's own Safari browser, and so the trouble begins.
When Apple first released the Safari beta in January, users could tell where things might lead. The five-year software development deal between Microsoft and Apple had lapsed, and it was obvious that the browser was going to be one of the first applications to go.
Had Apple worked with inspired vigor since January to improve Safari, users might feel safe without IE. This hasn't happened. Plenty of improvements have been made, but Safari still lacks the widespread Web site compatibility needed to be the sole browser of choice.
Apple wants its browser to be first class, and it will likely get close. The problem is that IE runs on 95 percent of PCs, and that is what developers care about. Tying a large chunk of your computer's usefulness to an ever-dwindling browser market share can be a risky proposition.
There are plenty of reasons to think an IE-less Mac would be a good thing. Users tend to find a certain kind of purity associated with running a Mac sans Microsoft code. No IE. No Office. It's the way life was meant to be in Apple land.
In addition, the horrid state of IE makes life without it seem a rather pleasant concept. Who needs a rectangle with no tools when add-blocking, fast, feature-rich options like Safari and Opera exist?
Sadly, Apple users do.
Unless Apple can prove without question that it can handle any Web site with its final release of Safari, users should start to get very nervous and hope Opera and Mozilla developers take charge. ®