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07 November 2008, 09:01

Microsoft CEO interested in open source browsers

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Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, said "Open source is interesting" when asked if Microsoft were looking at open source browser technology. The comment, reported in TechWorld, came during a developer conference in Sydney, Australia, when Ballmer was asked at "Why is IE still relevant and why is it worth spending money on rendering engines when there are open source ones available that can respond more rapidly to changes in Web standards?"

Ballmer responded, calling the question cheeky, but good, and, after prefacing his answer with a question of whether innovation would continue to occur in the browser, continued "Open source is interesting, Apple has embraced Webkit and we may look at that, but we will continue to build extensions for IE 8."

Microsoft have made a number of moves in the open source arena in 2008, most notably, sponsoring the Apache Foundation, and for Microsoft, a move to an open source based browser technology is not as impossible a transition as it would have been in the past. But, as Ballmer himself pointed out, Microsoft may still need its own browser application due to the proprietary extensions it has previously incorporated. This, in all likelihood, would inhibit Microsoft's ability to adopt an open source browser and add those proprietary extensions to it. It might be possible to fork an open source browsers code base and incorporate those extensions, but this could end up being as complex a task for Microsoft as maintaining its own browser.


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