So, Microsoft starts over… good for them

An article in the Wall Street Journal (thanks to Slashdot for the link) explains about Microsoft’s decision to scrap their current work and start over.

This is probably a good thing. In fact, scrapping and restarting is sometimes necessary. For example, Netscape open-sourced their codebase for Netscape Communicator 4.x. The idea was open-source contributors would help them get to version 5.0.

That didn’t happen. I can’t find the exact article explaining the reasons why, but I recall reading the team decided to scrap that codebase and start over with Gecko. As I understood it, the codebase for Netscape 5.0 was just not amenable to doing what people needed done. The result was Mozilla 1.0 and Netscape 7. (Netscape 6 was a forgettable experience.)

I’m having experience with scrapping and restarting myself. Abacus, you may recall, was intended as a MathML editor for Mozilla

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. Ideally, it would be embedded in Mozilla Composer. That’s not going to happen. I’m going to scrap Abacus and rewrite it for Verbosio, which is a much more extensible architecture (and is designed to support XML, which Composer is not).

I can get away with this, though, because Abacus has such a small customer base (effectively zero). With larger projects such as Firefox or Windows, I’d be a little concerned about backwards-compatibility. Netscape 6/7 decided to deliberately not support certain bug-features of Netscape 4, and that was probably wise. Be careful what you break when you scrap and start over.

6 thoughts on “So, Microsoft starts over… good for them”

  1. I had to use IE for a few years because Netscape stopped their browser work completely while Mozilla was nowhere near ready to pick up where they stopped. IMO, it was the decision that lost the Browser War.

  2. Looks to me like they didn’t start over in the way NS6/7 contained almost none of the code of NS4.x. More like they changed the way they revised/added code to the existing base.

  3. I would have thought this article is about internet explorer but instead its about ms/windows in general… They should realy do the IE rendering engine all over again.

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