Microsoft will formally kill the Mac version of Internet Explorer on 31 January 2006, the software giant has admitted.
The software's been moribund since June 2003, of course, when the company said it would no longer develop the code. At the time, it said it would stop supporting the product in 2005, and indeed, the appropriate product page on its website says support will stop on 31 December.
Actually, work on the Mac version of IE is believed to have been effectively halted back in February 2003, when Microsoft decided to can development of version 6.0 of the browser a month after Apple announced its own browser, Safari. Ironically, IE:Mac won plaudits from its earliest days for its speed relative to the rather clunky Mac implementation of Netscape. Indeed, the Mac OS 9 version of IE runs at a fair old speed, very different from the Mac OS X release.
Apple went as far as to formally back IE when CEO Steve Jobs, newly returned to that role, announced a cash injection from the company's Redmond rival. The Mac maker's later decision to create Safari appears to have signed IE's death warrant, coming at a time when the software giant felt it better to deploy coding resources elsewhere.
But you'll still have a month to download it before IE:Mac is yanked from Microsoft's servers. The Beast of Redmond recommends users move to "more recent web browsing technologies such as Apple's Safari", but Firefox is a solid alternative, as are Opera, iCab, Omniweb and Camino. And with so many of the world's websites written to IE's definition of HTML, XML etc. rather than the official standards - which Safari follows very closely - these are often better options than the Apple browser. ®