Should Microsoft ditch IE?

James A has written a great article on Firefox and Microsofts attitude to open source.

I cant help but respond :-)

I agree with James that Firefox has added a bunch of features that IE didn't have at the time (tabbed browsing for one), and yes IE 7 is coming, but you can get tabbed browsing now with the MSN Desktop Search. 

Do I agree that "MS should have dropped all further development for IE, lost their fear of Open Source, and made a massive contribution to the Firefox project by implementing stuff like ActiveX and extending the browser features so that it can interoperate with IIS and Windows like IE does"?

Well to answer that - I want to point out a few things.

  1. Microsoft does not fear open source.  I dont know the official standpoint, but I suspect we have a neutral stance.  We have in fact encouraged OS projects in the past while I'm sure we've discouraged others.  An example of encourangement would be DotNetNuke - a project that has had strong adoption/fostering inside the ASP.Net and IIS teams - in fact unlike any other external project ever has (check this edition of DotNetRocks for some more details).  BTW - you could argue that DNN actual competes in some respects with Microsoft Content Management Server too.
  2. James - you say Firefox has leap frogged Internet Explorer.... but yet the market share is still easily in IE's favour.  Some pages will have higher FF hits than IE - thats to be expected.  However, it looks to me like Firefox has been harder on IE competitors than IE.  But - perhaps you mean leap-frogged in terms of features.  Leap-frogged is a strong word for this. 
  3. How bad is FF for Microsofts revenue?  How much does Internet Explorer contribute to Microsoft's bottom line?  How badly is Microsoft really affected by the uptake of Firefox?  Given that IE is free, there is no real revenue risk here.  The IE market share is more about mind share than money.
  4. Microsoft has made vast improvements in security across the board and Internet Explorer security is no exception..While IE does not historically have a great track record, this has changed this year.  Compare the number of vulnerabilities this year between IE and FF.  IE has had 8 security advisories this year where FF has had 15.  Compare the month by month charts for IE and FF at

What would probably be really useful would be an itemised list of features that you'd like to see IE also have so it can be submitted to the IE team.  When I did this (last year) I struggled to come up with more than tabbed browsing.  Sure you could ask for RSS (which will be in IE7) - but frankly I didn't like the RSS implementation in FF when I was using it anyway.  You could also ask for the extensible plugin support that FF has... which might be nice.  Some might argue that FF is faster, but I didnt really notice much difference.

Beyond these what is there thats so great about FF? Why should Microsoft ditch IE and take on FF?  I really dont see any good reason.

I know you better than that James - what do you have up your sleeve that will kill my argument? ;-)