Microsoft considering WebKit for Internet Explorer

Microsoft CEO and dancing queen Steve Ballmer has said the idea of using WebKit as the rendering engine within Internet Explorer was "interesting" and added "we may look at that" when questioned about Internet Explorer 8 development.

Ballmer was speaking at the Web 2.0 conference in Sydney this week when questions were fired at him by eager web developers. He also admitted the long delays of development between IE6 and IE7 during the Longhorn (Vista) cycle, "But I don't what to go there," he said.

Many companies are adopting WebKit for their browser experience. Nokia has enabled WebKit on their N series devices, Google uses an old version of WebKit in the Chrome browser and Apple uses WebKit for Safari and on the iPhone web browser.

If Microsoft adopted WebKit throughout IE then this could finally mean developers would have a standard for developing web pages. Microsoft could also replace the failed IE mobile browser in Windows Mobile with something that renders pages correctly.

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43 Comments

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erm.. okay that would be a good move.

But then they just wasted all this time perfecting their engine to pass the ACID test? What a waste.

I saw IE8 at the PDC, and it looked almost feature complete. However, I bet it is not as simple as a cut and paste reference to the browser engine. I would not get too excited here..

well its not neccesary that they base it on webkit, but implement some stuff from webkit to their current engine.

He said "we may look at it". So, there's a possibility they might consider it, basically. I doubt this will ever go anywhere.

Exactly. "we may..." doesn't mean they will do it.
And even though they plan to do it, its impossible for IE8 to be webkit-based. There's not enought time for that. Maybe IE9 or 10.

Oh great :)
Now just add BSD kernel and subsystem and we have another OSX version :)

Nice to see MS going the right way...

u'r thinking on the wrong way. Do u know the history of WebKit? WebKit came from KHTML. So it was invented by KDE Team, Apple took 2nd step, Nokia took 3rd step, Google took 4th step & now MS is going to take final step. I hope MS will kill Mozilla Firefox like they killed Netscape.

Faisal Islam said,
I hope MS will kill Mozilla Firefox like they killed Netscape.

What a completely pathetic, brainless, witless, moronic, totally stupid comment. If that happened, Microsoft would once again be
mired in anti-competition lawsuits from the US DoJ, the EU, and maybe also from the Mozilla Foundation itself amongst others.

You were actually talking sense until that point ... then you spoilt it with gratuitous and ridiculous troll-like flame-bait!

Can I just take this opportunity to say that this article is total BS, I was there at the conference and he completely dismissed the idea.

Aww, I had my hopes up then :(

It's a shame Microsoft are still thick enough to not realise they cannot make a renderring engine which displays websites as they should be displayed.

It's a very stupid move for them not to incorporate either WebKit or Gecko into Internet Explorer... very stupid!

They can make an engine that renders web pages correctly. The problem is that they choose not to in favor of backwards compatibility and other features.

Fanon said,
They can make an engine that renders web pages correctly. The problem is that they choose not to in favor of backwards compatibility and other features.

Well they don't have any better features than Firefox. & they shouldn't brake new websites just to be "backwards compatible" with older sites which were made to work specifically for IE. These older sites should be updated by there developers to conform to web standards! It's not hard to validate your XHTML/HTML & CSS.

Fanon said,
They can make an engine that renders web pages correctly. The problem is that they choose not to in favor of backwards compatibility and other features.

Exactly, I am actually pretty happy with IE8's rendering engine, standards compliant pages require virtually no tweaking to work on IE8. Although javascript still pretty slow when you compare it to Firefox 3.1, Chrome and Safari, but it can only improve between beta 2 and final.

Now the real problem is actually the fact that we have IE6 is wide use, IE7 in wide use and we'll be forced to develop for IE8, so now we have to deal with three IE engines to deal with when we're developing our web sites.

That's why switching to web kit doesn't really solve any problems.

Isn't this against a law of nature or something...Imagine the Apple fanboys if they went through with this..."THEY COPIED AGAIN! ALL THEY DO IS COPY"...and to be honest, sure, IE isn't the best out there in terms of standards, but competition is what drives improvement. If all browsers were based on WebKit, there would be no reason to be faster or better.

Competition is what drives improvement, but there is no need for the Trident engine. There is still enough competition between Gecko & Webkit to allow for improvements to be made quicker than they would without competition.

Why would you want to keep around a rendering engine which does not properly conform to web standards & breaks many websites out there? Especially when it is one which the majority of the world's population uses.

This would be sweet :D

Compatibility shouldn't be an issue as IE8 has an IE7 rendering mode (Compatibility View), they could just switch standard rendering mode to WebKit.

This is a huge step, even for microsoft to consider it, Webkit is the best and for IE to use it, it would be cool.

IE8 is WAAAAAY to close to finished to change horses at this point. It would require pretty much a major rewrite. So you can forget that.

Maybe IE9?

This is a fantastic idea. So many websites (including my personal website & my MySpace) do not display correctly in Internet Explorer, when I write the code as it should be!

It's ridiculous. I really hope to see Micorosft incorporate Webkit for when IE 8 goes final...although I doubt they will :(

Maybe IE 9? (but I really hope it would be IE 8)

Most MySpace pages don't display correctly with any browsing engine. My browsers cry if I command them to render their users' pages. Firefox does cry less because of Adblock though.

I seriously doubt it will happen in IE8. I would think it's already too far along in development (at least Beta 2) to make such a fundamental change now. Additionally, business customers don't like abrupt change. Microsoft knows that making such a change would require advanced notice to developers and those customers.

Are talking about just mobile IE, or desktop IE?

If they are on about the desktop, this would be a silly move. Business all around the world depend on IE for the intranet integration applications, using technologies that only IE provides (ActiveX, Active Directory, etc). Making such a huge change to the browser would NOT make the enterprise adopt it at all. Businesses have long term investments in IE.

This is a stupid move.

Erm, why is it a stupid move? They could extend it, mold it as they see fit, and I don't think that (ActiveX, Active Directory .. etc.. ) have anything to do with the underlying rendering engine, or am I mistaken?

Its the core investment that businesses make. They expect their applications to keep working and looking the same, and what would happen one day if they upgraded to IE future and nothing worked and looked how it did before?

Antaris said,
Its the core investment that businesses make. They expect their applications to keep working and looking the same, and what would happen one day if they upgraded to IE future and nothing worked and looked how it did before?

That already happened to an extent with the upgrade from IE6 to IE7. Though I am skeptical that they'd ever adopt WebKit for desktop IE.

Antaris said,
Its the core investment that businesses make. They expect their applications to keep working and looking the same, and what would happen one day if they upgraded to IE future and nothing worked and looked how it did before?

Then they would have to learn to deal with the change and adapt.

Snap!!

Are talking about just mobile IE, or desktop IE?

If they are on about the desktop, this would be a silly move. Business all around the world depend on IE for the intranet integration applications, using technologies that only IE provides (ActiveX, Active Directory, etc). Making such a huge change to the browser would NOT make the enterprise adopt it at all. Businesses have long term investments in IE.

This is a stupid move.

If Microsoft did do something like this, I think Trident would still be available in those situations. Much like the legacy support of IE7 rendering for Intranet sites, it could be switched on and off via Group Policy.

Fanon said,
If Microsoft did do something like this, I think Trident would still be available in those situations. Much like the legacy support of IE7 rendering for Intranet sites, it could be switched on and off via Group Policy.

IE7 can run in IE6-compatibility mode? How?

guylaroche said,
IE7 can run in IE6-compatibility mode? How? :)


I think he means that most of the time, [the new] IE will use WebKit, making it compatible with most of the Internet. But then when it *does* encounter a site that uses ActiveX, it would drop into Trident. Microsoft wouldn’t have to worry about updating Trident, either. Sites that have ActiveX controls can keep using the current version of Trident, and they should work perfectly. This will keep “enterprises” using ActiveX happy, while simultaneously forcing development of new sites to use WebKit technologies, making these new sites run faster/better/cross-compatible.