Internet Explorer holds the primary market share in web browsers. Still. And this week Microsoft made it clear that "IE7+" is not going to be available to WinXP users despite the fact that it probably wouldn't be hard to do. The difference is most likely three #ifdef statements:
This is a blatant attempt to garner sales for Vista and is a wholly monopolistic tactic. Those are some seriously expensive #ifdef's! Probably worth $1 billion each!
The real reason I'm writing this blog entry is not because IE7+ has features I want or need. I'm writing this because Microsoft is attempting to redefine words and phrases that have predefined meanings. One specific phrase, "protected mode" (or PMode, for short), refers to the flat addressing memory model of all 32- and 64-bit operating systems that the CPU "protects" using multi-layered rings. The Intel CPU has 4 rings where the kernel resides at Ring 0 and user code resides at Ring 3. The most popular OS only uses two of the 4 rings. I'm not aware of any OS that uses all 4 for their intended, original purpose (probably for performance reasons).
Microsoft is pulling one of their classic marketing strategies out of the hat by calling something "protected mode". Essentially, the company wants to dominate this phrase for some reason. Someone searching Google for the phrase "protected mode" gets about 33 million hits. And usually someone doing that type of searching is researching OS development perhaps to create a competing OS. Basically, by doing this, Microsoft will quickly rise to the top 10 listings and the waters will be considerably muddied between the real definition of "protected mode" and IE7+'s definition. Confusion is one of Microsoft's primary marketing tactics. If they can confuse you about the competition (or just confuse you enough to believe there is no competition), then that's one more sale for them. Phrases are carefully chosen by Microsoft for maximum effect. By choosing the phrase "protected mode", Microsoft does maximum damage on multiple fronts just as they do by differentiating IE7 from IE7+.
Despite that, Internet Explorer is my favorite web browser. It has nothing to do with marketing. It has to do with which rendering engine I find more "beautiful". See my previous post, but as you can tell, I'm an artist. IE, while it has its shortcomings, displays what I call "pixel perfect" pages. Pixel perfect means that if I place a pixel in a specific spot on a page, it always appears in that spot on the page. No other web browser is pixel perfect. Pages always appear "uglier" under, say, Firefox when compared to IE. It may only be two pixels different, but I see those differences and that just bugs me. I'm not talking about websites I create (those that I make look pixel perfect under all popular browsers), I'm talking about websites I visit. The biggest annoyance is how fonts are handled under two different browsers. IE, IMO, does the best job and almost achieves pixel perfect status but it still falls short on occasion.