You may have heard the rumors going around that Microsoft is considering switching Internet Explorer’s rendering engine to WebKit, the opensource rendering engine used in Safari and Chrome, and wondered how this could affect us as developers and consumers of web applications. Regardless of whether or not this rumor has any basis, Microsoft has certainly changed its attitude quite a bit with respect to software development and open source.
- Rendering differences
- Inconsistent event models
- Browser-based testing
For consumers, this means that there is another major supporter for WebKit, which will continue to drive innovation as well as create competition so that Firefox, Opera, and others continue to evolve their browsers as well. Consumers also benefit from:
- Less discrepencies between different browsers
- Faster introduction of new features
So if this is a win-win situation for everyone what is stopping such a browser from being released by Microsoft? Well besides the business decisions involved, I’m pretty sure that the tight integration of IE with Windows and other Microsoft products will be a huge factor in how this can actually be implemented. It’s not easy to change such a critical part of a product’s technology without breaking things all over the place, even with extensive testing and development resources.