ieneonMicrosoft’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.

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  • Satish Shetty

    Fork it out of Windows and make it as a standalone application. cross platform is a plus.

    • Cole Thatcher

      Your startups web page is the epitome of buzz-word bullshit. How many investors have you duped?

      • Satish Shetty

        None. My startup is self-funded so far.

  • Forrest Corbett

    “separate ourselves from negative perceptions that no longer reflect our product today”

    Sorry, but IE8 is still their “product today” for many. For a significant portion of users, there’s no update path. And for the rest, IE8 isn’t auto-updating to a newer version. This is functioning as designed many years ago. The negative perceptions not just because of the name, but because for many audiences, a significant number of users still use IE8.

    Another way to put it is this: That broken down car in your yard still makes your neighborhood look bad, despite the fact you’ve got a shiny new car in the driveway.

    • davepermen

      anything/anyone still on xp is a lost cause by now, anyways. anyone newer can now, thanks to the ie11enterprisemode finally Switch without Messing up old tailored for ie8 Intranet apps. first time one can just drop in a new ie Version in years without caring about the old stuff. it just works.

      so.. they do their part. except for xp. which has to die. companies that didn’t plan any upgrade for 13 years, a.k.a. didn’t want to invest anything in their IT Environment for 13 years, why should Microsoft care much about them anymore?

      but yes, updating the old will be a hard part. it took Long to get rid of the ie6 dominance, too. yet, we are there in most Scenarios, nowadays.

      • Forrest Corbett

        I care about the results. When I look at browser usage and see IE8 is still fairly high, that’s a problem. I don’t really care if they’re on XP, Vista… the result is they’re still using IE8 and they’re a customer I have to support.

        • SilverSee

          No, actually you don’t have to support them. There is no reason for a commercial Web site today to support IE8. Even the few remaining XP users outside of China and developing markets have a choice of Firefox or Chrome if they need a more modern browser.

          If you support IE8 because of internal applications in a corporate environment, them Microsoft has you covered in IE11 (if you are on Windows 7 or 8.1). If you are still using older versions of Windows and can’t run IE11, then ultimately that’s a choice your company is making. Your company has had had literally years to plan migration to more modern platforms. I don’t see how you can blame that on Microsoft.

          • Slaggggg

            Have fun going broke.

          • Forrest Corbett

            That reasoning sounds accurate for a lot of situations, but not all. Obviously I’m talking about situations that don’t fall into one of those two buckets.

            If you’re willing to cut me a check for revenue lost by not supporting IE8, let’s talk.

          • Jason Gerard Clauss

            Nobody whose business matters uses IE8.

        • davepermen

          “have to Support”. and voila, you’re part of the Problem. unlike MS, who actually moved on and gave the customers proper Solutions. you still ‘make it work’ for them. so why should they move on?

  • Roger

    Forgive my ignorance but what is the business model that drives MSFT, Google, Mozilla, Apple and others to create free web browsers? How does is help/hurt MSFT if users pick IE or Firefox? It isn’t like someone is going to buy a different computer/OS to run Firefox over IE.

  • Bart C

    Wouldn’t it be great if Office 360 was tightly integrated into Internet Explorer? That would lock in Office 360 users and would also offer a overall better user experience. I’m currently running Chrome AND Firefox and wouldn’t mind running Internet Explorer alongside for all my Office 360 needs (I don’t use the desktop version).

  • Matthew Carter

    Changing the name would be another pain point for people with IE, it would cause them to feel that there’s something wrong with it and also that it’s yet another thing that is confusing. My family would NOT know what (NON IE) is and would be confused, “where is IE?” It would be great for other web browser’s to come along and pretend to be IE and steal their identity / add malware / spyware!

  • Samir Shah

    A cross-platform IE, say on all operating systems, can sync with each other and can lead to more usage and familiarity with Windows ecosystem. This familiarity can lead to increased use of free (OneNote) and non-free (Office) Microsoft software.
    The time when Windows was at her prime new people got their exposure to computing through PCs but now the conditions are different. Microsoft is the challenger with more and more of computing is happening on mobiles.
    Cross-platform IE meets Satya Nadella’s call for “Mobile First, Cloud First.”

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