Friday, November 7th, 2008

Adopting WebKit in IE?

Category: Browsers

Some people are getting excited at the thought of IE adopting WebKit as the renderer. They seem to think this may happen based on this tidbit:

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.”

That would sure be interesting wouldn’t it? This goes against what we say at PDC last week though. In one of the sessions we were shown how IE8 and Office share the same renderer now. This is interesting when you think about it and how it could enable very interesting UIs to showcase Office on the Web.

Microsoft and Apple working on the same Open Source codebase? Imagine that! I doubt it ;)

Posted by Dion Almaer at 1:33 am

4.2 rating from 34 votes


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WebKit is not only Apple as in desktop Safari but also Google in Chrome and Android and of course Apple in it’s iPhone.

If Microsoft doesn’t consider Apple to be enough of an competitor to block them from collaborating on the same open source project they would at least consider Google to be a big enough competitor and the two combined should make it very unlikely for Microsoft to be a part of that project I think.

Wouldn’t Gecko/Firefox be a better choice for Microsoft? Perhaps replacing Google as the main financial partner for Mozilla? Or why not Opera? Microsoft could buy out that company to inject new blood into IE – it’s after all what they did to create IE in the first place…

Interesting stuff anyways though :)

Comment by VoxPelli — November 7, 2008

Sounds like a misquote or mistalk by Ballmer. Many Microsoft products (Office, Visual Studio etc.) depend on the specific capabilities of the IE rendering engine. You couldn’t just drop WebKit in and fix a few interfaces.

Still, it would be interesting, but a big blow to Mozilla.

Comment by paulmwatson — November 7, 2008

It sounds like a dream, and will always be a dream. Microsoft and Open Source? Must be the best april fool ever ;)

Comment by V1 — November 7, 2008

As much as I’d like for it to be true, this was an off the cuff remark by Balmer that AppleInsider has blown way out of proportion.

Comment by tlrobinson — November 7, 2008

Never going to happen.

After all, we wouldn’t want the web to be a fully accessible, easy-to-develop-for environment where web developers are spending their time on useful content and usability, rather than tackling stupid cross-browser issues, would we?

It frustrates me that web browser developers (Microsoft, I’m looking at you here) can be so arrogant and not look at the bigger picture. I’m not saying Apple and Google (or Mozilla) are whiter-than-white, but at least they *try* and adopt the standards.

Comment by spyke — November 7, 2008

Honestly, I wouldn’t want everything to standardize on webkit. I want things to standardize on actual standards, not on an implementation.
I like the current division between the 4 major browsing engines. It keeps everyone on their toes, and MS will eventually be pressured to keep up with the developments in the other browsers.

Comment by Joeri — November 7, 2008


MS, pressured?? The even included IE6 in there SP3 release.. I think the global hate for IE6 didn’t help ;)

Comment by V1 — November 7, 2008

I have three words for the hack who was taking notes at that lecture: “detection”, “fail” and “sarcasm”… although not necessarily in that order.

Comment by jtresidder — November 7, 2008

Don’t forget WebKit is in AIR, too. That’s one of my favorite things about AIR–when I use it, I don’t even have to THINK about IE. I wish someone would strip out all the IE conditionals in jQuery to AIR.

Comment by Nosredna — November 7, 2008

I heard from an Adobe rep that they were thinking of embedding Webkit into Flash. That would be a huge step to making this work. We talked about this over a year ago and called it Browser Possession.

Wouldn’t it be nice to NOT have to test things over and over in different browsers?

Comment by GlenLipka — November 7, 2008

I and a couple people asked about that at Flash Camp in SF just prior to the Flash 10 release and they (the developers of Flash) said it was something they consider/ed but that it would add too much to the footprint of Flash Player to be approved by the powers that be. This was started by me asking if HTML support would be better and a couple other people following up about embedding pages and then finally about having WebKit built in.

Comment by JonBad — November 7, 2008

Even if IE put Webkit in IE9, it wouldn’t stop the IE6 zombies from continuing to eat our brains.

Comment by Nosredna — November 7, 2008

I have been saying MS should and eventually will adopt Webkit for IE for a long time now. It is a perfect fit as far as capabilities and adaptability. That said, there is either dishonesty or incompetence in the IE team that might make it a long, ugly process. For instance, while Google has successfully implemented an ActiveX shim plugin in Chrome, Chris Wilson (Platform Architect of the Internet Explorer Platform team) declared (here on Ajaxian) that such a thing could not be done and would require forking Webkit.
That said, I’d much rather see it implemented as the new “super standards” mode and all MS-specific tech relegated to legacy modes. Essentially IE would be a combination of legacy modes and a custom Webkit chrome with its own unique features. This would allow MS to keep developing IE as an application (which has been half-decent since 7) but stay the hell out of the rendering engine (which has been shit since Trident).

Comment by eyelidlessness — November 7, 2008

For f#ck sake please do it Steve, don’t tease us like this if your not going to do it you egg-dodging minks you!

Seriously Steve, if you don’t do this and get rid of Trident a contingent of us may step it up to ostrich eggs next time…joking, but seriously.

Comment by csuwldcat — November 7, 2008

Dear God, please let Microsoft adopt WebKit and stop poluting the world with IE…!
*NOT* blasfemy! 100% SERIOUSLY ment…!!
Ajax developer tired of spending 98% of my time “fixing IE”…

Comment by ThomasHansen — November 7, 2008

Although this would solve a lot of compatibility problems with IE, I’m pretty sure Chris Wilson has already commented on the topic. It would seem like an implausible choice given all the ActiveX effort the enterprise has invested. Trying to get those intricacies working in WebKit might be pretty damn tough.

Also the legal implications of utilizing the open source code might prove sticky.

Comment by bclaydon — November 7, 2008

if IE *did* go away, how many jobs would go with it? no, seriously. if it weren’t for IE (6 in particular) we could (would) probably can 1 of our web guys.

Comment by abickford — November 10, 2008

Why does MS waste resources writing a browser at all? FF, Chrome, Safari are all superior browsers to IE7. Give it up MS. Pick one of the others and admit defeat.

Comment by RichW — November 12, 2008

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