As many of you will have noticed, Microsoft has a wiki page for enhancements to IE. Apparently, they made it a wiki because “there’s no way we can currently scale to support the volume of requests on the forums” – in other words, IE is so terrible that they can’t cope with the level of complaints ;-)
I was reading through the suggestions, and thought that basically, what everyone is saying is that MS make IE do all the stuff Firefox does. “Why doesn’t someone just say that?”, I thought. Well, they did :-) Although I wouldn’t call the idea “outrageous”.
It’s a fair bet that the internals of Trident, the current WinIE rendering engine, are a mess. Just like Netscape with 4.x, if you evolve a codebase too fast, eventually it get too fragile to extend further. IE was competing in the browser wars too, remember? Microsoft would be foolish to rewrite IE from scratch. So, if they were to hop codebases, they have two realistic options – Tasman, the MacIE engine, or Gecko.
I don’t know much about Tasman, so won’t speak about it, but Gecko would be an excellent choice. Would it be harder to re-implement IE extensions on top of Gecko (or even deprecate them!) than it would to implement modern web standards on top of Trident? Interesting question.
Microsoft’s well-known allergy to the GPL wouldn’t even be an issue – they could use the code under the terms of the MPL, as Netscape does.