Am I the only one kinda sad about the cultural defeat of Microsoft?
I sure miss one aspect of it: the operating system as a distinct business. In this model, an operating system vendor is encouraged to support as many hardware devices as possible and as many software applications as possible. Users are then free to acquire hardware and software from any source that suits their specific purpose. The model we’ve moved to, where systems are bundled with devices, encourages device vendors to lock bootloaders to only run approved systems and systems builders to authenticate devices to only run on approved devices. Software capabilities are restricted in order to preserve the ability for the vendor to add value in next year’s model rather than let the ecosystem innovate. Updates bundle security updates with changes whose beneficiary is the vendor, not the user, and users are forced to take them. In this world, users lose, because the capabilities they receive are limited to those offered by a single vendor, as opposed to any software or peripheral maker. If it’s not in the interests of the vendor, users are just not allowed to do it.
In the desktop space, Linux still provides a lot of the traditional model, although the lack of ABI stability limits the scope of some software pieces. But in the mobile world, it’s hard to escape the influence of the locked-down model: even if you personally buy an unlocked phone, because so few people do, there’s not a good selection of systems and software available to exploit its capabilities. Sometimes I think we’re living in a dark ages and don’t know it, where we’re missing out on many potential innovations and it’s impossible to explain to people because there’s no way to reason about nonexistent creations.
It’s like whenever we nail something down, someone comes in and finds a way to exploit it to make more money out of it and thus ruining the whole thing.
Same applies to how mobile games nowadays are, in the mind of most developers, either full of IAP or ads, like we’ve peaked with this rubbish business model that basically makes the whole platform awful for games.
Interesting thing to me is that Apple also introduced a lot of novel Web features outside the W3C process. If you were doing Web dev at a certain time, you had -webkit prefixed properties all throughout your CSS, and <canvas> started there too. Unlike VML or the other forgotten techs discussed, Apple’s stuff eventually became standardized, despite initially being go-it-alone sorts of things. (Were there efforts to draft standards before the first implementations were deployed? I don’t recall seeing anything that’d suggest that at the time.)
Maybe a question of company strategy? The old Microsoft didn’t necessarily want a smoothly interoperable web whereas Apple at the time could at least tolerate it; they’d committed to having an open-source engine. And maybe timing? A lot of Apple’s work was after HTML 4.1, when the W3C was inactive on HTML and had headed off to XHTML land; maybe that void made it more appealing to standardize features that browser vendors were shipping on their own.
Curious if others who were paying attention at the time (especially to the standards side) have more of an idea why it unfolded this way.
The hero image looks like something out of Halo, even though it’s a real place.
It certainly is remarkable how much Microsoft silently crammed into Trident, and yet very little of it I ever heard of, let alone actually used or shipped.
I did, and do, find it noteworthy how little of this is in Tasman (on Mac IE).
What an amazing archaeological dive into Trident and IE. As a person doing web development since the 90s this article reminded me that I’ve forgotten about more than I currently know.
I’m not sure I can get on board with the conclusions in the “So what led to IE’s downfall?” section though. It understates how much Microsoft just fully abandoned IE. It wasn’t that affected by the Longhorn delay. Windows Vista was released in 2006, two full years before Chrome was released. Vista didn’t bring with it a rejuvenation of IE, just more signs of neglect. IE’s downfall was complete and total neglect combined with a motivated and rich competitor that could pay vendors to bundle and push Chrome instead. IE was so thoroughly neglected that the team thought it reasonable to rebrand and launch Edge without 3rd party extension support. In 2015. That’s how simultaneously out of touch and behind they were.