Browser Wars II on the horizon?

Microsoft may have unwittingly started a revolt against its Internet Explorer (IE) browser by discontinuing it as a standalone product and blurring the future of the current version, IE 6. Earlier this month, Microsoft admitted it would not release any new versions of IE as a standalone browser. Instead, the software giant said that the next version of IE will be an integrated part of the Windows operating system. The move has led to unrest among companies that rely on their customers to access services over the Internet and led some analysts to conclude that IE's virtual monopoly and status as the de-facto browser standard is about to come to an end.

Basically, if banks' customers turn to other browsers instead of upgrading to the latest version of Windows, then developers and banks and other large e-commerce operations may be forced to start more standards-based code to support those browsers in preference to IE.

The first signs of trouble came when IE programme manager Brian Countryman let it slip in a 7 May online chat that IE6 "is the final stand-alone installation" of the browser, which is used by more than 90 percent of Web surfers. Microsoft has already confirmed that it will no longer make standalone versions of IE, and said "nothing has yet been decided" about the future of support for IE 6, the browser's current stand-alone incarnation. Lars Ahlgren, EMEA support policy manager at Microsoft, told ZDNet UK that he knows it is "very unwise to force customers to upgrade" to a new operating system, and admitted that "if you lock in your users or customers, you will lose out".

However, he is adamant that in order for "browser technology to truly thrive and develop, it needs to be part of the operating system -- that is why we have made this choice".

News source: Yahoo News UK - for the rest of the article

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