About ten years ago, I remember Microsoft started to get pounded by observers for "missing out" on the Internet. One of their responses was the development of Internet Explorer, which, thanks to a good design and the fact it was bundled with the OS, quickly beat out Netscape and other incumbents.
Recently, PC-Pundit John Dvorak has argued that Microsoft's foray into Explorer has been its biggest blunder. I'm not usually a Dvorak fan (I find him to be too much of a technocrat, tending to favor top-down standard setting over messy bottom-up innovation) but I thought his take was pretty interesting:
I think it can now be safely said, in hindsight, that Microsoft's entry
into the browser business and its subsequent linking of the browser
into the Windows operating system looks to be the worst decision"”and
perhaps the biggest, most costly gaffe"”the company ever made. I call it
the Great Microsoft Blunder....
If the problem is not weird legal cases against the company, then
it's the incredible losses in productivity at the company from the
never-ending battle against spyware, viruses, and other security
problems. All the work that has to go into keeping the browser afloat
is time that could have been better spent on making Vista work as first
All of Microsoft's Internet-era public-relations and legal problems
(in some way or another) stem from Internet Explorer. If you were to
put together a comprehensive profit-and-loss statement for IE, there
would be a zero in the profits column and billions in the losses
Yeah, I know, the Internet was supposed to be the next platform for applications taking over from the PC. This has always been a slow phenomena to emerge (I LIKE having my applications on my own PC and available even if Cox cable is having another hiccup) and its not at all clear you need a browser to play well anyway. While Microsoft has screwed around with Explorer and dot-net, Google has become the gold standard of web-based applications, and they don't have a browser at all.
By the way, if you are waiting for the new version of Explorer, just get Firefox instead. It is everything Microsoft is trying to make Explorer and it is there already. And you don't even have to think in Russian to use it. (OK, did anyone get my movie reference there or am I a total loser?)
Hat tip to the Mises Blog.