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Microsoft deploying work-to-rule for Mac browser?

MSN deemed much more important than IE

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In the latest twist in the twenty five year long poker game between Apple and Microsoft, the impeccably reliable Nick de Plume of Think Secret suggests that Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit has halted work on Internet Explorer 6 for Mac OS X.

Microsoft's formal five year commitment to produce software for the Macintosh ended last summer. It hasn't been renewed, but relations haven't been severed either. They're just getting distinctly tetchy: last year Microsoft pointed to lousy sales of Office for Mac OS X, while Apple has published its own browser and presentation program. And Microsoft's lack of support for right-to-left languages such as Arabic and Hebrew continues to rankle many Apple users. (No, we haven't forgotten that one).

Nick suggests the suspension of this major rewrite may be a resource problem, with Microsoft management wanting to commit to MSN Explorer instead. But which ever way you slice it, this very much looks like a work-to-rule. A realistic audience for MSN amongst Apple users is optimistically in the low six figures, while every new Mac purchaser is a potential Internet Explorer user: a far larger number. So the decision looks like Microsoft responding to Apple's message of "we can do this ourselves" in kind.

An update to the excellent IE Mac browser is badly needed, if only as a matter of pride. Although it's the same Carbon code base, what sings on MacOS 9 simply stinks on Mac OS X.

Think Secret's report is here

Bootnote: The similarity of "Nick de Plume" to "nom de plum" has led wild conspiracy theorists to suggest this is a pseudonym for a well-known Mac commentator, with several suspects fingered, including me. Er, I am emphatically not Nick de Plume. ®

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