Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser has made great strides in recent years, embracing web standards and upgrading its user interface, as the company retires old versions of the browser and lobbies users to use the latest versions.
But given its history with users and web developers, can the Internet Explorer name be salvaged? That was one question posed to the Internet Explorer engineering team as part of an extensive Reddit AMA last week.
“It’s been suggested internally; I remember a particularly long email thread where numerous people were passionately debating it. Plenty of ideas get kicked around about how we can separate ourselves from negative perceptions that no longer reflect our product today,” wrote Microsoft’s Jonathan Sampson, posting under the IEDevChat handle.
He added, “The discussion I recall seeing was a very recent one (just a few weeks ago). Who knows what the future holds :)”
The offhanded answer is sparking multiple rounds of news coverage. (The comment even made the TV news in Seattle last night.)
But setting aside the issue of the name, the company could make a much bigger statement by bringing its browser back to non-Windows operating systems and devices — essentially competing on the same playing fields as Chrome and Firefox.
That question was also asked during the Reddit AMA: “Any chance that IE will become platform agnostic?”
The answer from the IE team: “We don’t have plans for that at this time. For the platform, enabling developers that use Macs to test sites easily in IE is important to us. That’s why we’ve launched modern.IE and provided free VMs and other tools to do so. We’ve also partnered with BrowserStack and SauceLabs to offer additional tools to make testing easier. We’re always thinking about how we can make this even easier as we know there limitations with these tools. We’ve got some ideas and experiments.”
That’s a traditional Microsoft response, but with new CEO Satya Nadella pushing the company to make its services work across platforms, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this change over time, and ultimately that type of move would have a much larger impact than a name change.