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Could Microsoft legally use Firefox as IE?

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NathanJ79
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Could Microsoft legally use Firefox as IE?

I was just using IE earlier, and I remembered how aggravating it is. Surely Microsoft are not stupid, they must know people who know better do not like their browser.

Are they even making money on it? I know they have a cushy relationship with the advertising industry (to not allow ad blocking in IE, for one) but are there direct profits from people using Internet Explorer over Firefox or other alternatives?

What would stop Microsoft from taking Firefox, putting in a couple extensions they like, disabling it from getting any other extensions, and calling it Internet Explorer? They don't sell IE, they give it away, with Windows and separately. How would this be different from what Orca, Iceweasel, and Blackbird do?

I know there's pride. The pie in the face of putting out a rebranded, stripped down Firefox called Internet Explorer might look bad.

But would it? Internet Explorer is a piece of junk and the number of people who don't know it is dwindling. If they put out a retooled version of Firefox as the official Windows web browser, would that not be win/win across the board?

I'm still proud of my previous Microsoft/Mozilla idea, but it's too liberal. In short, Microsoft stops producing IE, pours money into Mozilla, brands Firefox as IE, keeps it open source, and nurtures an open community of developers to make it the best. Combining Mozilla's minds with Microsoft's resources would really be the best solution. But would not happen.

Darkbee
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Why?

Honestly, is their market share really that low? While, I don't deny that Firefox has grown tremendously in popularity, there are still armies of Internet Explorer users out there who; don't know any better, are afraid of change, actually prefer IE (shocking I know).

I think Safari on the Mac is the worst browser in the history of mankind, but there are also armies of supporters for it too. Everybody has their favorites.

Although I personally find IE still mostly annoying, it is improving and slowly catching up with Firefox (it has had tabbed browsing for a while now). I know, I know, you shouldn't have to wait for your favorite browser to catch up, but since most average Joe users just use whatever is put in front of them, they don't know any different. Why should they?

As for ad-blocking I was recently shamed into conceding that there are actually decent, FREE ad blockers available for IE these days. I could hardly believe it myself as this wasn't the case about a year and a half ago. If you don't believe me, then just do a search for "free internet explorer ad blocker" and see what you come back with. (I think IE7 Pro Ad Blocker is one of the first things to come up, but I'm sure there are others)

Of course one of the main problems is that, AFAIK, IE is so heavily entrenched in the operating system itself that it'd be a huge amount of work to replace it with something else. I have to confess that I don't know if this is true for Windows 7 (which I've heard nothing but good things about incidentally).

Microsoft: Love to hate them, but they aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

Bahamut
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Of course one of the main

Of course one of the main problems is that, AFAIK, IE is so heavily entrenched in the operating system itself that it'd be a huge amount of work to replace it with something else. I have to confess that I don't know if this is true for Windows 7 (which I've heard nothing but good things about incidentally).

It's not the case for Vista and maybe not even for XP. I have Vista installed without IE, courtesy of vLite. Instead of trying to remove IE from Windows, it modifies the Windows install environment so that IE isn't installed into Windows to begin with. I haven't had any problems being IE-free, and HTML rendering for Windows components (e.g. Help and Support windows) work fine. I do have to make sure to hide updates for IE7/IE8 so that it doesn't get installed that way, though.
There are similar tools being developed for Windows 7, and once a good one has reached a somewhat mature stage, I'll install Windows 7.

Vintage!

Darkbee
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Fair Enough

So what does Windows use to render the HTML help with? What does Outlook use to render HTML emails?

I imagine things like vLite simply trim the fat. Obviously you don't need the IE GUI.

Technical issues aside, I can't ever see Microsoft having Mozilla Firefox be their default browser, maybe a link to the download on their desktop but other than that I don't think it's going to happen.

Bahamut
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There's a separate component

There's a separate component that handles the help and other things (I don't know for sure about Outlook, but I imagine it doesn't strictly require IE). IE is more separate from the OS now compared to the 9x line. Microsoft could make Windows without IE if they wanted to.

Back on topic, Microsoft still wants to control the web. They haven't been able to do it because of Netscape et al. Their ultimate goal was and is to make web pages only viewable with IE, and by extension, Windows. They failed to usurp Netscape, and therefore didn't get a stranglehold on the web. Without that advantage, their dream of controlling the web, at least as far as browsers go, went up in smoke IMO. Netscape spawned the Mozilla project, and now Mozilla-based browsers along with Safari and others have a far too significant market share for any websites to shut out.

Vintage!

digitxp
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Legal

MPL: You can't use the trademarks, you have to release any changes to the source (but not any additional source files).
Microsoft locked IE to Windows. It's a control thing. Also (so saddeningly enough), doing this would break about 2/3 of the sites on the web, but then it would make the future so much easier.

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NathanJ79
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...

First, IE doesn't have fans. It has users and apologists.

Users are those who are stuck with it and don't need anything else. My sister-in-law was an IE user till it broke. Her Vista laptop came with IE and though she knew her sister (my wife) was an avid fan of Firefox (I've taught her well) IE did what she need. She could get on MySpace and Facebook and play the web games. Toolbar after toolbar piled up and finally it just quit. I gave her two choices. I installed both Firefox and Chrome on her computer. She loves both of them. Not because they're better. But because they work. (She still doesn't blame IE for its shortcomings, she blames herself and her boyfriend for breaking it.)

The apologists are the same thing, but they defend IE for whatever reason.

I don't think anybody truly loves IE.

Furthermore, and I might be going out on a limb here, but while it's pretty much a given that MS Paint has more fans, I'm going to submit that Notepad does too. Tell me I'm lying!

Seriously now. I don't doubt that MS wanted to take over part of/all the Internet with IE. They failed, if so. Now they might be trying with Silverlight. Well, they can offer Silverlight as an extension. Maybe even bundle it.

digitxpMPL: You can't use the trademarks, you have to release any changes to the source (but not any additional source files).

That's pretty much what I thought. So say Windows Internet Explorer 9 comes out, it's Firefox-based, they use their own name and logo, bundle Silverlight, they open-source the browser, but they don't have to open-source Silverlight or anything else they bundle with it.

digitxpAlso (so saddeningly enough), doing this would break about 2/3 of the sites on the web, but then it would make the future so much easier.

What 2/3 of the sites on the web don't work with Firefox?

Darkbee
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Simmer down :)

You can't make blanket statements like that!!! Shock

NathanJ79First, IE doesn't have fans. It has users and apologists.

NathanJ79I don't think anybody truly loves IE.

That's like saying that the Detroit Lions don't have any fans. They might be the worst American Football team in the history of the sport, but I'm fairly sure they still have fans. (ok, maybe plural is a bit too strong Blum )

I think the Safari browser on the Mac sucks rotten eggs (worse than IE, IMHO) but if I posted such on a Mac forum, I'd probably receive death threats.

Just like anything else in life, there are hardcore fanboys (and girls) who would defend Microsoft and IE to the death. And they are certainly not apologetic about it.

Whether people love IE, isn't really the issue. You're original question was could Microsoft rebrand Firefox and bundle with Windows as the default browser. I think the more important question is would they want to and if not, why not.

digitxp
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Broken

The sites that say "works best in IE" which happen to be the majority of websites. As in sites that still use the <b> and <i> tags to make a whole section bold rather than using css. It also happens that the only reason IE has been hacked to Linux is for compatibility testing. Remember MS's comparison chart? (fixed here)
Oh, some other IE negative stuff (sorry if I'm dragging, I really don't want to waste a Google search):

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