Free Software and Web Browsers

My thughts on Internet Explorer, Safari and Free WebSeptember 23, 2010

Imagine a universe that is growing instantly with an environment that includes the necessary resources and basic means of production for its people who live peacefully without borders, governments or militaries. As a result of this, everything is free and all production devices are under control of all humanity, which means a vast increase in production. Additionally, the imagination-universe provides teleportation that makes it easier and faster to distribute/obtain products. Sounds so cool, doesn’t it? I’m talking about the web, we invented a kind of a universe which includes a teleportation network by default! Everyone has access to free production tools (thanks to the FSF movement) and can distribute them to the entire world, for almost free. The only problem that we couldn’t solve is that we have to design our products for old teleportation clients since most of the people are not aware of modern teleportation tools because they prefer to live in private property of a genius Richie Rich.

Even though I’m pretty happy to see the great technical effort on the future of Microsoft Internet Explorer, it’s a disappointment to see that there is still nothing improved about the business approach of Microsoft that seems to believe that they can act like an oil company, posess and control all of the production devices. This is why I’m still not excited about Internet Explorer 9. This may sound like as if I’m a fan of an any other web browser embracing more social business models (BTW My browser choice is UZBL) but I’m actually pretty ok with the technical approach of Microsoft. I’m following IEBlog for years and learning lots of things from the posts about their development experiences, also think that MSDN (Compare it with Apple’s mysterious reference pages) is one of the great resources for web developers. The only thing to which I oppose is business models of Microsoft products.

On the other hand, Internet Explorer isn’t the only proprietary browser which belongs to a commercial company, we have Safari and several mobile web browsers, too. The only difference between the IPhone’s mobile browser and Internet Explorer 6 is that IPhone ones rendering engine is a little better, not much. Distribution methods -even though Webkit is open source, it’s not perfect)- are almost same, except the companies are different. Most of the mobile browsers are IE6 candidates to me.

To summarize, the main issue about the web is whether to take the advantage of modern distribution methods or not. Even if all of the web browsers follow the web standards, we will continue to lose time for the software playing catch-up since implementation times differ between months and years. In my opinion, all of the rendering/javascript engines should be open source, able to update itself automatically and totally independently from browsers. This is what the web needs immediately.

P.S Thanks Yusuf Arslan for draft versions of this post.