Microsoft’s browser is on a comeback tour.
Today, the company launched Rethink IE, a showcase of what Internet Explorer 11 can do. The company set out a few examples of beautiful experiences that have been created for its browser, including a web-based port of the popular Windows 95 game Hover, and Everest: Rivers of Ice, an interactive look at the “glaciers, rivers and people of the Greater Himalaya.”
While Microsoft certainly wants to try and win users back to its platform from other browsers, it seems like the campaign is targeted more towards people who are looking to build stuff on the web, in addition to consuming it themselves.
It’s not that long ago that IE 6 — with its notoriously broken rendering and seeming unwillingness to conform to web standards — ruled the web. It was slow and clunky, and developing for it was a headache. At the time, that annoyance spurred the adoption of Firefox, and then Firefox’s own troubles lead developers and end users to Google Chrome in their search for a fast and useful browser.
But now, Microsoft says that they’ve built a modern, standards-compliant browser that’s easy to develop for and brings with it a number of features that devs and users can’t get from other browsers on Windows. Put bluntly, they want people to, as the campaign says, “Rethink what the web can be.”
In particular, the company is highlighting IE’s ability to support touch interfaces, as it continues to push its line of Surface tablets, and OEMs build computers that split the difference between a tablet and a laptop.
Microsoft is taking lessons from the current war for developer talent on mobile platforms to try to attract users to its browser. If the company can convince developers to create beautiful experiences for IE, that provides an even better incentive to try it out, rather than just use it as a platform to go and install Chrome.
Still, the question remains: now that people are used to developing for IE’s competitors, will they ever see a reason to come back?