12-19-2013 01:43 AM
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  1. HeyCori's Avatar
    I don't think you understand what I am saying. All of the things you mention are just possible with WebKit, and most would not be affected by affected by swapping out Trident. IE is not the same as Trident - it is built using Trident. You remember the Chrome plugin (IETab, I think) that opens a tab within Chrome that uses IE (or more accurately, Trident) as a renderer? I'm suggesting the same but the other way around. Microsoft get to keep their bookmark syncing, etc - that's part of IE, not Trident. And it will all work on Windows, XBox, WP, etc.
    Dropping Trident doesn't absolve Microsoft of web development and it puts them at the mercy of a third party. You're right in that Webkit would still allow Microsoft to integrated IE across their products but the process only gets more complicated. Here's an article that should help illustrate the point.

    Despite Google being the main driving force, WebKit is still Apple’s baby.

    If you take a look at the WebKit Team page, you realize that Google has 95 members, but only 36 reviewers, whereas 48 out of 59 Apple contributors are reviewers.

    More important, the main design choices are still under Apple’s control, and they don’t necessarily agree with Google: see for instance the different views on multi-process architecture also mentioned by Adam Barth (as a matter of fact, WebKit2 has introduced a multi-process architecture, but different from the one used in Chrome).
    So what happens when Microsoft wants to implement something that Apple disagrees with? What happens when Microsoft needs to apply a new feature to Office web apps? Something like that is low priority to Apple since they don't compete with Microsoft in Office web apps. And if Apple did, they would approve a solution that works best for Apple, not Microsoft.

    Here's a very real example. What happens when Apple decides they won't support Flash on a mobile browser? That's exactly what they did two years ago. That affects both me and share holders because Windows 8/RT does support mobile Flash. Getting rid of it also removes the value incentives from potential Surface buyers. That's affecting Microsoft's bottom line which in turn will lower their stock price.

    Furthermore, it's not all sunshine and roses in Webkit land. Google is dropping Webkit for other reasons as well.

    Another reason why having its own rendering engine will be good for Google is differentiation. If Google can make Blink significantly better than WebKit (faster, less buggy, safer), then this gives products such as Android, Chrome, and Chrome OS an advantage over the competition. Given the world we now live in, a faster, more efficient, safer browser is something that would be welcomed by many.

    In the end, Microsoft still has to spend money on web development, only instead they have to run to Apple for approval. Microsoft loses out on competitive advantages like mobile Flash thus hurting buyers and shareholders. And with Microsoft being in a wide range of competitive markets, that means that what matters to Microsoft doesn't allows matters to Apple.

    I just don't see how moving to Webkit makes Microsoft's life any easier.
    squire777 likes this.
    10-25-2013 09:33 AM
  2. anony_mouse's Avatar
    And so they'd have to make it to where Explorer starts to work with trident. It's not incompetence, every file manager needs something to render it. Apple uses WebKit, like I said.



    2 is wrong. It isn't just interchangeable because... they all work differently. You'd have to rebuild the entire file manager and a few other programs. Did you know that Windows Media Player, for example, uses Trident?
    Hey, thanks for addressing my actual point! First response that did. :-)

    Yes I know many applications use Trident. Can you confirm that Windows Explorer uses Trident to render the file manager itself? I know that it uses it for HTML (obviously), but how about for other things? If so, it's only the code to interface with HTML pages that needs to be changed.
    I would assume that Microsoft have implemented a native 'file manager' UI to display files. Otherwise, I guess MS would have implemented the file manager UI itself in HTML, in which case it should work in WebKit.

    I wasn't calling Microsoft incompetent. Exactly the opposite. I am sure Microsoft have not made the file system and associated layers depend on Trident. You can, for example, access files through the command prompt as well, and that certainly does not go via Trident.

    You make a good point about changes being needed to all programs that use the WebView. That is a possible issue. The obvious solution is some kind of porting layer, so that applications can continue to use the same API, but end up accessing WebKit instead of Trident. Something similar may well be used already to map from external 'WebView' APIs to whatever Trident uses internally. As I mentioned before, IETab allows Trident to be used within Chrome, so it can't be very hard to swap from one rendering engine to another.

    Does this make some sense?
    10-25-2013 09:55 AM
  3. anony_mouse's Avatar
    Dropping Trident doesn't absolve Microsoft of web development and it puts them at the mercy of a third party. You're right in that Webkit would still allow Microsoft to integrated IE across their products but the process only gets more complicated. Here's an article that should help illustrate the point.
    Thanks for the interesting reply!

    So what happens when Microsoft wants to implement something that Apple disagrees with? What happens when Microsoft needs to apply a new feature to Office web apps? Something like that is low priority to Apple since they don't compete with Microsoft in Office web apps. And if Apple did, they would approve a solution that works best for Apple, not Microsoft.
    Microsoft can make whatever changes they like to WebKit. They can add features to support Office or whatever. It's only if they want to contribute that code back into the community that Apple get a say. Of course, there are disadvantages to keeping that code internal - later changes in WebKit might break it, so maintenance is still needed.
    The question is whether this effort is more or less than maintaining an entire HTML rendering engine. I think WebKit will be the easier root. Of course, Microsoft could use Blink (like Google, which is a fork of WebKit), they can fork WebKit themselves, or even use Gecko from Mozilla.

    Here's a very real example. What happens when Apple decides they won't support Flash on a mobile browser? That's exactly what they did two years ago. That affects both me and share holders because Windows 8/RT does support mobile Flash. Getting rid of it also removes the value incentives from potential Surface buyers. That's affecting Microsoft's bottom line which in turn will lower their stock price.
    Flash is a plugin. WebKit still supports plugins, and Android (using WebKit) supports Flash. So Apple's decision to drop Flash support does not affect anyone else, via WebKit anyway.

    Furthermore, it's not all sunshine and roses in Webkit land. Google is dropping Webkit for other reasons as well.
    Indeed. Life isn't always easy.

    In the end, Microsoft still has to spend money on web development, only instead they have to run to Apple for approval. Microsoft loses out on competitive advantages like mobile Flash thus hurting buyers and shareholders. And with Microsoft being in a wide range of competitive markets, that means that what matters to Microsoft doesn't allows matters to Apple.

    I just don't see how moving to Webkit makes Microsoft's life any easier.
    Well, I'm in danger of repeating myself, but the question how working around the problems of open source development like this compares to maintaining a whole browser engine. My feeling is that it would be much less effort, although yes, still some. Whether this is true is something only Microsoft can answer. :-)
    10-25-2013 10:03 AM
  4. Michael Alan Goff's Avatar
    Hey, thanks for addressing my actual point! First response that did. :-)

    Yes I know many applications use Trident. Can you confirm that Windows Explorer uses Trident to render the file manager itself? I know that it uses it for HTML (obviously), but how about for other things? If so, it's only the code to interface with HTML pages that needs to be changed.
    I would assume that Microsoft have implemented a native 'file manager' UI to display files. Otherwise, I guess MS would have implemented the file manager UI itself in HTML, in which case it should work in WebKit.

    I wasn't calling Microsoft incompetent. Exactly the opposite. I am sure Microsoft have not made the file system and associated layers depend on Trident. You can, for example, access files through the command prompt as well, and that certainly does not go via Trident.

    You make a good point about changes being needed to all programs that use the WebView. That is a possible issue. The obvious solution is some kind of porting layer, so that applications can continue to use the same API, but end up accessing WebKit instead of Trident. Something similar may well be used already to map from external 'WebView' APIs to whatever Trident uses internally. As I mentioned before, IETab allows Trident to be used within Chrome, so it can't be very hard to swap from one rendering engine to another.

    Does this make some sense?
    Can I confirm it how? By looking up a specific registry entry, a file entry, linking you to a wikipedia article, linking you to a Microsoft help thing, what? Certain people will only take certain things as proof and they won't accept anything else. I can say, however, that all file managers these days use a rendering engine. I pointed to the fact that OS X uses WebKit. I think Nautilus does as well. A modern rendering engine is used for modern file managers.

    It isn't the file system itself that is rendered by Trident, which is why you can access it through the terminal. But, essentially, something has to render everything. Maybe we'll get to the point where we can replace the rendering engine with something else, but right now all file managers use a rendering engine. Some use WebKit, I think a couple are moving to Blink, and Windows Explorer is Trident.

    I see what you mean with the layer, but I don't see the point. You're saying they shouldn't maintain Trident, but they should maintain a layer that allows people to view things that need Trident as if WebKit was Trident. It's kind of a compatibility layer. But in the end, you're going to have performance issues with any compatibility layer, and you're still employing people to make sure that it works and to make sure that it gets upgraded. Not to mention that you're taking away any potential competitive advantage that Trident might bring in terms of speed or performance.
    10-25-2013 10:14 AM
  5. thed's Avatar
    Are there really that many websites that don't work well in IE anymore? IE's been pretty good with web standards ever since IE8. And I find it hard to believe that there are a lot of web developers out there that develop and test only on webkit browsers and call it a day. IE and Firefox are big enough that any serious developer has to test on those browsers. Maybe there are some exceptions but my guess is they're few and far between.
    10-25-2013 10:14 AM
  6. HeyCori's Avatar
    Microsoft can make whatever changes they like to WebKit. They can add features to support Office or whatever. It's only if they want to contribute that code back into the community that Apple get a say. Of course, there are disadvantages to keeping that code internal - later changes in WebKit might break it, so maintenance is still needed.
    And that's really the crux of it all. If your viewpoint is that MS should adopt WebKit to free up developers and move them to other projects in an effort to save money, it's not saving Microsoft money when they then have to go back in and 1) develop features around WebKit so they can provide a solution that works best for Microsoft. And 2) provide maintenance for all the additional changes. And of course, there's always 3) return to the drawing board when Apple disagrees with Microsoft's decisions.

    You said Flash was just a plug-in, but it's not a plug-in in Windows 8. It's baked right into the engine. Why would Apple give Microsoft permission to bake Flash right into the WebKit engine when Apple wants nothing to do with Flash on mobile devices? That's time and money wasted that would have been better spent just using Trident. After all, Trident isn't a brand new engine, it's finished. It's just a matter of adding features and keeping up with web standards.

    Simply put, if Google hates the process so much that they're willing to redo millions of lines of code just to get away from Apple, Microsoft would be wise not to throw themselves under the same bus.
    Last edited by HeyCori; 10-25-2013 at 11:04 AM.
    Michael Alan Goff likes this.
    10-25-2013 10:22 AM
  7. Michael Alan Goff's Avatar
    Are there really that many websites that don't work well in IE anymore? IE's been pretty good with web standards ever since IE8. And I find it hard to believe that there are a lot of web developers out there that develop and test only on webkit browsers and call it a day. IE and Firefox are big enough that any serious developer has to test on those browsers. Maybe there are some exceptions but my guess is they're few and far between.
    There aren't many, but it's always annoying to run into the ones that are. My sister, for example, can't use IE because one of her favorite sites doesn't render properly in IE. I can't really go to some sites with menus on my Surface RT because their drop downs render weird with IE. To me, and this might just be selfish, it doesn't matter if it's 5 sites or 500 sites as long as it's the ones that I go to. You can tell me all day long that I'm just not thinking about the big picture, and maybe I'm not, but I can only go by things I do.
    10-25-2013 10:31 AM
  8. ohgood's Avatar
    scenario 1: try to convince people to use some particular browser on their mobile devices. lots of stupid emails, complaints, service tickets, etc
    scenario 2: code the website for the majority of mobile users. ignore the rest.
    scenario 3: make everything exactly web3 or whatever is cool compliant. see scenario 1 for results.

    2 is what's happening.
    10-25-2013 10:37 AM
  9. thed's Avatar
    You said Flash was just a plug-in, but it's not a plug-in in Windows 8. It's baked right into the engine. Why would Apple give Microsoft permission to bake Flash right into the WebKit engine when Apple wants nothing to do with Flash on mobile devices?
    I think you might be confusing the rendering engine with the browser. Unless I'm missing something, Flash is built into the browser, not the rendering engine. Since it's not actually part of the rendering engine, MS could swap out Trident for Webkit and still bake Flash support directly into the browser, without approval from Apple or anyone else in charge of Webkit. The only thing this means is that you don't have to download and install Flash separately to run it on Windows 8. (I'm not necessarily advocating this approach, just saying that it's possible).

    There aren't many, but it's always annoying to run into the ones that are. My sister, for example, can't use IE because one of her favorite sites doesn't render properly in IE. I can't really go to some sites with menus on my Surface RT because their drop downs render weird with IE. To me, and this might just be selfish, it doesn't matter if it's 5 sites or 500 sites as long as it's the ones that I go to. You can tell me all day long that I'm just not thinking about the big picture, and maybe I'm not, but I can only go by things I do.
    Fair enough, I wasn't trying to say that it never happens or that it shouldn't bother you when it happens. I just don't necessarily think it's a trend as much as it is a few bad apples that aren't coding to web standards.
    10-25-2013 12:14 PM
  10. HeyCori's Avatar
    Thanks for the clarification, though that still leaves MS with development and maintenance chores.
    10-25-2013 12:38 PM
  11. anony_mouse's Avatar
    Can I confirm it how? By looking up a specific registry entry, a file entry, linking you to a wikipedia article, linking you to a Microsoft help thing, what? Certain people will only take certain things as proof and they won't accept anything else. I can say, however, that all file managers these days use a rendering engine. I pointed to the fact that OS X uses WebKit. I think Nautilus does as well. A modern rendering engine is used for modern file managers.
    I am asking you to confirm that Windows Exploror uses Trident to render the file manager because you claimed it did. Personally I find that very doubtful because Trident is an HTML renderer, not a file exploror, and it seems unlikely that MS would code the file manager in HTML. But perhaps you know better than me. Any of the options you suggest - Wikipedia article, MS document, whatever - are fine.

    It isn't the file system itself that is rendered by Trident, which is why you can access it through the terminal. But, essentially, something has to render everything. Maybe we'll get to the point where we can replace the rendering engine with something else, but right now all file managers use a rendering engine. Some use WebKit, I think a couple are moving to Blink, and Windows Explorer is Trident.
    I will say it again. Trident is an HTML render. It is used to render HTML content. I expect some other renderer is used to display the file system. Windows Explorer is an application that makes use of several renderers. When you enter a URL, it uses Trident. When you enter C:\, it uses the file system renderer. You see the point?
    So swapping out Trident for another HTML renderer does not seem, in principle, so hard.

    I see what you mean with the layer, but I don't see the point. You're saying they shouldn't maintain Trident, but they should maintain a layer that allows people to view things that need Trident as if WebKit was Trident. It's kind of a compatibility layer. But in the end, you're going to have performance issues with any compatibility layer, and you're still employing people to make sure that it works and to make sure that it gets upgraded. Not to mention that you're taking away any potential competitive advantage that Trident might bring in terms of speed or performance.
    I wouldn't expect any compatibility layer to be a big problem. WebKit already runs on Windows. It's just a question of making Windows use WebKit to interpret the HTML and draw it to the screen when a Windows app calls whatever the Windows equivalent of Android's WebView is. This really shouldn't be a big deal.
    Do you think Trident has any advantages over WebKit? Personally I avoid Internet Explorer like the plague so I don't really know, but this thread suggests to me that it doesn't.
    12-10-2013 03:36 PM
  12. anony_mouse's Avatar
    And that's really the crux of it all. If your viewpoint is that MS should adopt WebKit to free up developers and move them to other projects in an effort to save money, it's not saving Microsoft money when they then have to go back in and 1) develop features around WebKit so they can provide a solution that works best for Microsoft. And 2) provide maintenance for all the additional changes. And of course, there's always 3) return to the drawing board when Apple disagrees with Microsoft's decisions.
    There are other options for an HTML renderer is MS don't like WebKit - Blink and Gecko being the obvious ones. MS never have to 'return to the drawing board', because all of these projects are open source. They always have access to the latest state. The advantage of any of those projects is that many people are already working on them. Microsoft only have to add features that no-one else is working on, and given that these should be standards based products, that shouldn't be too much. This is the strength of open source software - the development effort is shared and all contributors benefit.

    You said Flash was just a plug-in, but it's not a plug-in in Windows 8. It's baked right into the engine. Why would Apple give Microsoft permission to bake Flash right into the WebKit engine when Apple wants nothing to do with Flash on mobile devices? That's time and money wasted that would have been better spent just using Trident. After all, Trident isn't a brand new engine, it's finished. It's just a matter of adding features and keeping up with web standards.
    Flash is a plug in. I can assure you of that. Microsoft may have built the plug in into IE, just as Google did for Chrome. But it is still a plugin from an arhictectural perspective. It is independent of WebKit and Apple cannot stop anyone taking WebKit, building a browser around it and including whatever plugins they like.

    Simply put, if Google hates the process so much that they're willing to redo millions of lines of code just to get away from Apple, Microsoft would be wise not to throw themselves under the same bus.
    Google are not redoing millions of lines of code. They are taking an open source project and forking it. That means they take a complete copy of the code and start taking it in their own direction (alongside others like Opera who are also joining the project). They can still take code from WebKit and I expect WebKit and Blink will likely continue to exchange code. It is in both of their interests to do so.
    12-10-2013 03:41 PM
  13. magicrobots's Avatar
    This thread is fascinating and amazing. Nobody here truly knows how integrated Trident is in the OS display layer, and we are all making wild assumptions. It is clear than none of us are Windows OS developers who work for Microsoft and have any idea what the hell is truly going on.

    Fun to make guesses though right.

    I think the real discussion that we can actually have without making stuff up, is our opinions on how a single browser world would benefit "the internet" - if it would at all, and from whose perspective; users, developers, or the owner(s) of the browser.

    Would Google/MS/Apple forks of webkit even solve the developer's problem? I'm not sure.
    Is a subpar experience on an unpopular/substandard browser bad for the user? Again, I'm not sure - how else is someone to be motivated to try something new?
    Is IE good for Microsoft? Nobody on these forums truly knows.
    12-10-2013 04:41 PM
  14. anony_mouse's Avatar
    This thread is fascinating and amazing. Nobody here truly knows how integrated Trident is in the OS display layer, and we are all making wild assumptions. It is clear than none of us are Windows OS developers who work for Microsoft and have any idea what the hell is truly going on.
    It's good that someone points this out! Personally I gave up on this thread some time ago when no-one seemed to understand what a rendering engine actually is, but I came across it again today and the more recent posts gave me some hope. I have asked for some confirmation of the more extreme claims, as I am genuinely interested, but unfortunately nothing has been forthcoming.
    I would stick by my assertion that if an HTML renderer is so entangled with the rest of a platform (I am sticking to the computer science definition of the operating system, so a won't call it an OS), that it can't be replaced then that is extremely poor design and very incompetent software engineering. As Microsoft are certainly competent and good at software engineering, I am sure they haven't done this.

    Fun to make guesses though right.
    Yes.

    I think the real discussion that we can actually have without making stuff up, is our opinions on how a single browser world would benefit "the internet" - if it would at all, and from whose perspective; users, developers, or the owner(s) of the browser.
    Do you mean HTML rendering engine, or browser?

    Would Google/MS/Apple forks of webkit even solve the developer's problem? I'm not sure.
    Is a subpar experience on an unpopular/substandard browser bad for the user? Again, I'm not sure - how else is someone to be motivated to try something new?
    Is IE good for Microsoft? Nobody on these forums truly knows.
    I'm not suggesting that there should only be one HTML rendering engine, or only one browser. If Microsoft gave up on Trident, there would still be WebKit, Blink and Gecko. The benefit to Microsoft would be cost saving and freeing up engineers to work on something more useful.
    Not sure what you are referring to by "an unpopular/substandard browser" - in the context of this thread, I would guess you mean Internet Explorer?
    12-10-2013 04:53 PM
  15. magicrobots's Avatar
    Do you mean HTML rendering engine, or browser?
    Good question! I meant rendering engine in this case.

    I'm not suggesting that there should only be one HTML rendering engine, or only one browser. If Microsoft gave up on Trident, there would still be WebKit, Blink and Gecko. The benefit to Microsoft would be cost saving and freeing up engineers to work on something more useful.
    Oh ok, I think I was just curious myself about the idea of a single rendering engine universe where each company forked it and gave it their own flavor for their browsers. Regarding your point, I agree that it would free up engineers to do more useful things but I imagine that MS is a company that is big enough to employ for whatever project they need developers for. If they went this route I imagine that IE developers would just get canned.

    Also, I think if there IE turned to Webkit I think that there would still be plenty for MS engineers to do, optimizing for MS online products, etc.

    Not sure what you are referring to by "an unpopular/substandard browser" - in the context of this thread, I would guess you mean Internet Explorer?
    Yes, in this case I'd be referring to IE, but as the OP suggests, as time goes by the browser with this label changes.

    And speaking of standards ... regardless of what the W3C standards are, if webkit becomes the defacto standard by having hypothetically 90% market penetration, does that mean anything else is no longer standard? Geniunely curious.
    12-10-2013 05:06 PM
  16. rakesh1995's Avatar
    Microsoft was never serious about IE they just ignored developer's. Still they are not serious. Look at metro IE.
    If Microsoft themself do every thing half baked how could we expect 3rd part developer to work with them?

    Sent from my Uuusumm Lumia 520 using Tapatalk
    12-11-2013 12:25 AM
  17. anony_mouse's Avatar
    Oh ok, I think I was just curious myself about the idea of a single rendering engine universe where each company forked it and gave it their own flavor for their browsers. Regarding your point, I agree that it would free up engineers to do more useful things but I imagine that MS is a company that is big enough to employ for whatever project they need developers for. If they went this route I imagine that IE developers would just get canned.

    Also, I think if there IE turned to Webkit I think that there would still be plenty for MS engineers to do, optimizing for MS online products, etc.
    Well, hopefully no optimisation would be needed, as MS would keep to web standards for their services and they would work well for everyone. Not everyone uses a Microsoft browser these days. :-)

    Yes, in this case I'd be referring to IE, but as the OP suggests, as time goes by the browser with this label changes.

    And speaking of standards ... regardless of what the W3C standards are, if webkit becomes the defacto standard by having hypothetically 90% market penetration, does that mean anything else is no longer standard? Geniunely curious.
    It is an interesting question. I guess it depends how you define 'standard'. Windows is effectively the standard PC software platform, despite being highly proprietary and under the control of a single company.

    BTW, I can see advantages for the wider industry in Microsoft continuing to maintain Trident. Competition is probably good in this case, and it helps ensure others follow standards too. It probably benefits everyone, even those who don't use any MS products. The question is whether Microsoft themselves gain much from this, and whether their shareholders are prepared to continue funding it.

    Another possibility would be for Microsoft to make Trident open source. Browsers are integrated into many different products so there might be others who would use it. And over time, costs to Microsoft should fall as the effort to maintain and develop Trident would be spread over several companies. Trident itself might improve as well, and become more competitive.

    I will be very interested to see what the new CEO does.
    12-11-2013 03:44 AM
  18. Silver Wind's Avatar
    I remember reading on a Microsoft blog post about trident rendering windows explorer. It makes sense when you think about past concepts like active desktop backgrounds (a webpage as the desktop background).

    It is also quite clear that current IE is much faster at JavaScript processing than the current crop of webkit browsers. I guess you that's trident's doing. With that said, trident is in some ways better than webkit (just at the WebGL rendering on IE11). It is therefore impractical for Microsoft to abandon trident for something lesser, simply cuz some ie-hating webmasters don't support it.

    This brings up the real issue. The only pages I've seen recently that don't render well on IE do fine on IE11. It is not a case of IE not rendering them well - it's a case of the webpage sniffing UserAgents (IE11 has changed the UserAgent template - it doesn't say MSIE anywhere now).
    12-19-2013 01:43 AM
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