Microsoft has found itself in a peculiar position when it comes to browsing the web. With Internet Explorer facing strong competition from Google and Mozilla, a browser ballot screen that is no more, and a new OS on the horizon, Internet Explorer is in a place where it needs a big showing with Windows 10 to make sure that its market share remains ahead of the competition.
Over the years, Internet Explorer has had a perception problem that is rooted in IE6 and for some, IE7 and IE8 too. It's the legacy applications that are still impacting the brand but as recent data shows, even with the negative connotation, overall, IE still remains incredibly relevant in the browser conversation. And with IE12 on the horizon that will bring an updated interface and browser extensions, there are changes going on under the hood that are expected to improve performance for the application.
Microsoft has made a rather large decision regarding Trident, the engine that powers the browser, and no, it's not adopting Webkit. The team behind the engine has forked Trident into two components that will result in a new .DLL when the browser ships.
The forking of Trident, copying off the code base so there are two version, is a strategic move to have legacy support no longer impact modern webpages. How it works, per our internal sources, is that if a page calls for IE to render in a compatibility mode, this will cause the older, more resource intensive Trident engine to display the page. But, if the webpage does not call for compatibility mode, then the updated IE12 Trident engine will handle all of the lifting.
Because of the fork, the modern component of the IE12 should be lightweight compared to what we have now in IE11, at least, that's the hope because all of the legacy base has been removed.
It's because of this fork, we believe, that the rumors started that Microsoft was releasing a brand new browser that's not Internet Explorer. And as Mary-Jo Foley reports, she is hearing that Spartan, which we reported back on in September that has a new user interface, is lightweight browser that may not be called IE12.
IE12 is a huge project for Microsoft and while every release is a big deal, this is the first browser to come out from the Redmond based company since Nadella took the top job. If they screw this up, it will be a significant challenge to overcome if users find that IE12 is not what consumers want to use to consume the web.