Windows 8

Windows 8

This post is about  What Microsoft is doing is killing competition which will result in lesser innovation and will in turn affect in the development of web browsers.

A long time after the browser wars, when Microsoft tried to crush Netscape from the market, Microsoft is again accused by competitive browser companies for making it difficult for their web browsers to run on Windows based mobile devices.

And this time, it’s Mozilla complaining against Microsoft. Moreover, Google has also shown up on Mozilla’s side.

What the matter is?

On May 9, Asa Dotzler, one of Mozilla software engineer, wrote on the Mozilla blog post about Microsoft’s practices which would hinder their browser’s performance on Windows 8 powered ARM based tablet devices. He posted that on ARM chips Microsoft gives only its browser, IE10, access to special API’s which are essentially required to build a modern web browser. So there is no way in which another browser could match up with the standards of IE in terms of performance. Moreover, Mozilla also alleges that in the ARM version of Windows 8, only IE10 will have access to API’s which are required to render JavaScript quickly. Google has also released a statement saying that they “share the concern Mozilla has raised”.

There also some concern regarding the sharing of API’s required to make the Metro version of these browsers. In Windows 8 there are two version of IE10, one is the legacy desktop version and one is Metro version which is more suited for working on ARM devices. If IE is selected is the default browser, only then you can access its Metro version. In case you select any other browser as the default browser for the desktop, then you cannot use the Metro version of IE. Now with the restriction of Metro APIs, other browsers are not able to come up with their Metro versions. This in turn reduces the chances of other browsers to be the choice of the users as their default browser.

Why Microsoft might be doing this?

The whole technological world has by now realised that the ARM chips will be the future of all devices. ARM chips are being used in almost all mobile and tablets these days. Moreover a few of the netbook manufacturers have also launched ARM based netbooks in the market. So Microsoft might be taking these steps in order to gain browser dominance over the ARM market, keeping in mind that the future seems bright for ARM chips.

With regard to the Metro API’s, Microsoft has given hints that it is preserving the API’s in order to conserve the design and the user experience of their beloved Metro interface.  But Microsoft has not said anything official in this regard.

What Mozilla thinks?

Mozilla has stated that they believe that “the most effective way to resolve this is through critical discussion and transparency of the issues rather than through legal action.” Though they have said that they will not be filing any legal complaints, they have said that if Microsoft does not take any action they will have to do something about it themselves.

What we feel?

We seriously feel that Microsoft should allow other companies to freely access their entire set of APIs. The reason is quite simple. We have seen that most of the open source technologies have rapidly progressed mainly due to the fact more and more developers come up with newer ideas for the platform. Such competition is possible only when all the developers are freely given access to all the API’s. We really feel bad for Microsoft failed attempts in dominating the browser markets, but that doesn’t give them right to restrict API’s and hinder other browser’s performance in their platform. What Microsoft is doing is killing competition which will result in lesser innovation and will in turn affect in the development of web browsers.

– By Rajat Kapoor

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