There are several aspects of the Internet Explorer development pattern which have mystified me; primary among them has been why Microsoft would continue pouring millions of dollars into developing a browser which was no longer intrinsically connected with the Windows operating system anyway.
The impending release of both IE10 and Windows 8 has now made Microsoft’s reasoning abundantly clear. Far from decreasing the operating system’s reliance on Internet Explorer, as predicted by many pundits, Windows 8 will be more affiliated with the native browser than ever. And as if to emphasize that fact, the latest Platform Preview release for Internet Explorer 10 is not available as a stand-alone download and can only be acquired as part of the developer’s build of Windows 8.
We can now appreciate Microsoft’s justification for investing so much time and money improving IE’s support for the latest/newest web technologies – because Windows 8 Metro utilizes all the latest technological trends, and Microsoft is obviously intent on seriously embracing the Web app platform.
If Microsoft’s IE development agenda was primarily about competing, it surely would have mimicked Firefox, Chrome, etc. and catered for the myriads of XP users who still command a large percentage of the overall market share. Instead, they opted to leave XP behind and concentrate on the future.
Internet Explorer 10 is destined to be available only for Windows 7 and later, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the demise of Vista support has already been marked on a calendar at Redmond somewhere.
NOTE: IE10 Platform Previews will eventually be made available as a stand-alone download/install.