Machvergil Comic number 043

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Thoughts on: The Browser Wars

So that you guys know, I got the job.  Yep.  I’m now a full time employee of Michigan State University, with salary and benefits.   I’ll be able to tell you better how great I feel after Thursday’s orientation where I get a better handle on what I’m getting out of the deal.  That said, I look forward to going to the doctor/dentist again.

So since my position as a professional web developer continues, I thought I’d comment on the upcoming browser wars, which I fell really should be called “Browser Wars2” (or BWII). I say “two” because the first Browser wars were really between Microsoft’s IE and Netscape Navigator, that took place in the 90s, a battle Microsoft ultimately won with flying colors.

For the last few years we’ve had a rising rivalry between the newset versions of the king’s browser (like IE7) and Mozilla’s Firefox.  Yeah, there’s also Safari and Opera, but given that combined less than 5% of the internet uses them, I might as well pretend they’re not here (though, I still check to make sure web pages for work function right in these browsers).  Yeah that’s right, even though Safari comes standard on Mac, enough Mac users get Firefox and use it instead that it keeps Safari on the low end of the useage percentage.

The 800lb. gorilla in the room now is Google’s Chrome, a browser I myself have yet to check out, but that is poised to take the internet by storm. Google is so serious about this, they got renowned comic artist Scott McCloud (of I can’t stop Thinking fame or Penny Arcade’s Hatred, take your pick) to do a comic detailing its features.  The underlying big deal here is the push to turn a browser into an application platform instead of just a browser.  To boot it should still do the browser part well since it’s based off Webkit, and as someone who has to develop for Safari (also based on webkit) I can say Webkit does a damn good job of rendering pages (somedays I think better than Firefox).

Don’t think that they’re alone in this.  Microsoft has already prepared to counter attack, with Internet Explorer 8 (currently in Beta2), which will include many of the memory and privacy features that Chrome does.  Microsoft wants to eventually push their Live Mesh idea as a series of “cloud computing” online applications and services, which is why they would want their new browser to support online apps to a similar level.

Meanwhile there has been no news from the Mozilla front to counter these new developments,  undestandble since Firefox 3 only recently came out.  It is interseting to note that last month, Firefox came as close to overtaking IE7&IE6 in use I’ve ever seen.

So in the coming years, expect a new breed of browser bickering to kick in, with the big boys being IE8, Chrome, and Firefox, all the while there being enough people hanging on to Safari and Opera to have to watch them too.  Good thing IE 8 includes web standards and an awesome compatability mode so that development hell can … finally…

*breaks out laughing*

Yeah right!

Already IE8 beta2 is having issues rendering sites in it’s “Standards mode” because it triggers the hacks we’ve been doing for IE for years!  At this rate we’ll end up having to develop for and obscene number of browsers instead of standards ever actually being followed. IE6, IE7, IE8, Firefox 2, Firefox 3 (Yes, there’s a difference, beleve it or not), Safari, Opera, and Chrome.  If you really want to do the web developers in the world a big huggy favor, pick your favorite browser and always, always use only the latest version.  Pllleeaaaasseeeeee.

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