The battle of browsers are getting more intensive. Internet Explorer (IE) was the top browser of 2011. Firefox has been the first browser to challenge IE’s dominance. Chrome has also gained market share over the last quarters. A new development in this war is Microsoft’s decision to ban Firefox and other browsers on its new ARM-based Windows RT systems. Aren’t you eager to know the real reason behind this drastic decision?
The upcoming release of Windows for the ARM processors won’t support any browsers except for IE. Microsoft has defended their decision saying that decision is primarily because of security and power management requirements of ARM chips. They have also emphasized that Windows RT “isn’t Windows anymore.” Hence, the idea of supporting third party apps is compromised.
But Mozilla doesn’t seem agree with Microsoft’s logic. Mozilla General Counsel Harvey Anderson expressed his disregard for Microsoft’s reasoning. “I’m not aware that Microsoft is the exclusive and sole proprietor of technology capable of working in the ARM environment…. It’s a different architecture, but it’s not the first time we’ve had an OS that works on a different architecture,” said the General Counsel. About Microsoft’s claim that Windows RT isn’t the same as Windows, Anderson said that the new system uses the same user experience, programming interfaces and Windows Update system. This makes Microsoft’s statement invalid.
Anderson also mentioned that, “They’re trying to make a new version of their operating system which denies their users choice, competition, and innovation. Making IE the only browser on that platform is a complete return to the digital dark ages when there was only one browser on the Windows platform.”
It looks like Microsoft is following the path of Apple. Apple permits only its WebKit browser engine on iPhones and iPads. Though, it simplifies the lives of developers, it reduces the choice of consumers. Not to mention, the unfair treatment this decision does with third party browsers.
As far the as the matter of user freedom goes, Microsoft is saying that the users will be benefited from the decision as it will ensure more secure Windows systems for the users. The absence of choice should not be taken negatively.
Whatever cases Microsoft may plead, some people are not convinced. Some people are referring to the browser war of the 1990s and warned about Microsoft’s intentions of repeating history in the same way, when the company used its position to destroy the market for Netscape browser. Can Microsoft use that power again?