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AOL Releases Client for Mac OS X with Gecko Browser 286

Posted by pudge
from the and-here-i-am-using-a-plain-old-isp dept.
DietFluffy writes "America Online released an update to their Mac OS X client. The built-in browser is powered by Gecko! However, America Online plans to stick with Internet Explorer for their Windows client. Will this make web designers think twice about tailoring their web pages to Internet Explorer? Or will they ignore this, given that the Windows client will still have Internet Explorer as the default browser?" And if this goes well, will the Windows version eventually use a Gecko-based browser, too?
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AOL Releases Client for Mac OS X with Gecko Browser

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  • Considering that Apple market share is fairly small and then add in those using AOL on it it's even smaller this won't make much of an impact. Most sites already work completely in Mozilla, the only ones being the ones who don't care about working on every browser, and never have.
  • by joshua404 (590829) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @08:43AM (#4060671)
    I can't remember - Is AOL the evil corporate empire today or are they the champions fighting against M$? Let me check my calendar..
    • by Atzanteol (99067) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @08:51AM (#4060716) Homepage
      I don't think companies are evil, per se. It's their actions that are good or bad. Here, slashdot is pointing out a favorable change in AOL. Many will think it is a Good Thing(TM). If they then mandate 20 pop-up ads when people load their software, it will be a Bad Thing(TM).
      • Isn't AOL reducing the number of popups [slashdot.org] as a result of some customer survey?
      • I don't think companies are evil, per se. It's their actions that are good or bad.

        A couple months ago I was watching a Charlie Rose show, where he was interviewing the author of a new business book. I think the book was about what it takes for businesses to make it and the conclusion was a core set of values was needed (and of course the company needed to stick to those values). Charlie Rose raised the troubling point that it did not matter what those values are and that "evil" could be one of those. The author agreed. Anyone else see this episode?

    • It's Tuesday, so today we love AOL. On Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays we hate AOL. But on Tuesday and Thursday we love AOL.

      On weekends we are neutral! Hope this clears things up ;)
    • by psicE (126646)
      Well, do we hate Apple?

      I have good reason for predicting that, within a year, Apple will buy AOL from AOLTW.

      Right now, "convergence" is out. Convergence-based companies, like Vivendi, Time Warner, Disney, Viacom, and more are looking extremely bad. Many of them are on the verge of breaking up.

      So let's say Time Warner breaks up. They put publishing and print-based materials in one company (Time), and multimedia/interactive materials in another company (Warner). That leaves America Online; the service that Apple went to special lengths to enable on Mac; the service that powers Apple's new iChat; and the service that now offers the Gecko browser by default on Mac.

      Why wouldn't Apple jump to buy America Online, integrating it with OS X, and morphing the Mac AOL client into both a new, fully standards-compliant Galeon-style browser, and a new, fully standards-compliant MSN Explorer-style browser? They've got the money, after all, being one of two profitable computer companies. I think it'll happen.
      • by MouseR (3264)
        I have good reason for predicting that, within a year, Apple will buy AOL from AOLTW.

        I think methadone can help you with this.

        AOL is worth about as much as Apple, and Apple needs to keep it's 4.3 billions worth of cash in it's balance sheet, for Apple is alone in it's market, and it needs the money to guard against dark times.

        Back in the Apple Dark Ages (1994-1997), Apple's 2.1 billion in cash is what saved it (then, the iMac picked up the tab and the rest we all know about).

        I could see Apple doing strategic alliances, but not a buyout of that magnitude.
        • Actually, AOL is worth about as much as Apple *today*. The differential was in AOL's favor a year ago and who knows what it'll be a year from now.

          The question really is would Apple be better off if Steve Jobs won AOL in a card game from Steve Case? Does AOL provides a significant contribution to the user experience that Apple wants to provide. I'm guessing the answer nets out no so the relative pricing actually ends up being irrelevant.

      • Why wouldn't Apple jump to buy America Online

        Because the last two times they started doing that, it failed miserably.

        America Online, the service, was developed by AOL (then called Quantum Computer Services) exclusively for Apple as "AppleLink Personal Edition", complementing the existing AppleLink, which would become known as "AppleLink Developer Edition". After about a year, Apple decided they did not want any part of the service. A naming contest was held, the name was changed to America Online, and the rest is history. Apple paid AOL their fees and got out of the deal.

        In 1993, Apple saw that the online world was really hitting its stride, so they commissioned AOL to build a new service called eWorld. This time, it would be run by Apple, using AOL's software, with AOL providing technical support and launch guidance. AOL developed many new features at Apple's request. eWorld failed miserably, and eWorld customers ended up migrating over to AOL in a matter of months IIRC. (On the upside, AOL gained Unsend, Mail Controls, and quite a few other features.) Apple paid AOL their fees and got out of the deal.

        The only reason for Apple to buy AOL would be so that, when the third deal went sour, they would not have to once again pay AOL to do nothing.

        Jay, AOL's ex-Mail Guy
    • Yet another joke that stopped being funny. Yea Yea I know maybe I am old and crumegony, but I remember when slashdot was for discussions, and not rehashing jokes that were not funny nor clever the first time.
  • MacOs and Win (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joe_fish (6037) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @08:43AM (#4060676) Homepage Journal
    Mozilla has always had a greater percentage market share on MacOS compared with Windows, so it makes sense to start there when moving browser components.

    But it's about protecting your userbase. No point in alienating your users too soon. It'll come but not in a rush.

  • 8.0 Uses Gecko (Score:3, Informative)

    by spring (116537) <eric@bitpud d l e.com> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @08:44AM (#4060679) Homepage
    The Win32 / 8.0 version of the AOL client does use Gecko as the rendering engine.
    • Re:8.0 Uses Gecko (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jmu1 (183541) <[jmullman] [at] [gasou.edu]> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @08:55AM (#4060735) Journal
      Based on what information? Do you have a URL? As I've heard it on NPR several times that they won't be switching.
      • I can't dig it out of my logfiles right now, but I am pretty sure I have seen some web surfers come to my site using Compuserve's 7.0 browser, and the agent reported includes "Gecko". Compuserve of course is just another flavor of AOL, so one might infer that AOL 7.0 is also using something similar.

        If I can find that agent in my logs, I'll let you know.
        • Re:8.0 Uses Gecko (Score:2, Interesting)

          by prwood (7060)
          http://webmaster.info.aol.com/index.cfm?article=6& expand=0&sitenum=2

          This is in AOL's webmaster info area.

          Look in the fourth row of the table, marked "CompuServe Versions Possible" - and in the last column. You can see that in CompuServe 7.0, they are using Netscape 6.x, which is Mozilla, which is Gecko.

          Still can't find my agent url, but that table is proof from AOL's mouth that at least one of their products incorporates Gecko.
      • AOL is indirectly using Gecko under Compuserve 7.0 [compuserve.com] on Win32 already.

        Since Compuserve is part of AOL, it would seem logical that AOL will follow where Compuserve has been. Whilst there is no evidence per se, it seems that this announcement [aoltimewarner.com] would pave the way for such a move.

      • It's just a matter of time, AOL/TW would love to be able to cut MS out of the check when people buy thier new "AOL" machine. Remember it's not IE vs Gecko, its AOL/TW vs MS-NBC. If MS-NBC controls the internet, they have already won half the battle.
        • Keep in mind though that AOL/TW have control of nearly all cable. All CABLE. That is a whole lot of a very big market that they control. And a much more widely used market than computers, I might add. Let's not forget that for nearly every software product you install on your machine(in MS land) you get a bleeding AOL icon on your desktop...even if you already have the latest AOL! Creepy.
    • Whoa... Time to sign... Heey, you almost tricked me into becoming an AOL user!
    • Re:8.0 Uses Gecko (Score:4, Informative)

      by Ami Ganguli (921) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:00AM (#4060754) Homepage

      We don't know that yet, and in fact the latest beta reverted to IE.

      AOL has been really coy about their plans in this regard. Nobody knows what they're up to. Latest evidence suggests that Gecko will go to smaller platforms first (Compuserve, Mac) and larger platforms later on. This makes some sense for AOL, since it reduces the risk of alienating their mainstream customers.

    • Re:8.0 Uses Gecko (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kalidasa (577403)
      There are both Gecko and IE betas. It looks like (to an outside observer) they're going to stick with IE for 8.0, but I'd guess that 9.0 will be Gecko.
      • Re:8.0 Uses Gecko (Score:3, Interesting)

        by chrisbolt (11273)
        Or, 8.0 could allow the user to choose...
        • Re:8.0 Uses Gecko (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kalidasa (577403)

          Or, 8.0 could allow the user to choose...

          Maybe, but I would not expect it to. After all, this is AOL, and adding that kind of customizability to a lowest-common-denominator product would probably be counterproductive. Can't you just see the average "Isn't AOL the Whole Internet" user's blank stare when told they can use either IE or Gecko as their browser engine?

          Besides, allowing users a choice now locks AOL in later. If they decide they do not want to use the IE engine at all in the future, and their users had a choice at one point, it will look like by taking away the choice of IE they are taking away a feature.

    • I don't want to be a serious hard-ass, but dude, if you're beta testing, that might be info covered by a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). Most beta testers are required to agree to one in order to be added to the Beta, unless it's an open beta.

      You might want to be careful about what you release. With AOL stock in a slump like it is, they may want to hit you with a lawsuit, just for kicks and to see how much cash they can pump out of you. I'm sure we all know how hard companies can be about proprietary information.
      • Yes, you are correct. I should be careful what I say. I may lose my AOL privileges. That would be a disaster.
      • Re:8.0 Uses Gecko (Score:3, Informative)

        by MindStalker (22827)
        Don't worry too much, its common knowledge that there is a AOL beta with gecko in it, then that there was a later AOL beta without gecko in it. So nobody really knows whats going to be in 8.0 though the speculation is that IE will be in 8.0 if 8.0 comes out soon. While gecko will be in 9.0, but if 8.0 doesn't come out soon they may switch depending upon how well the Mac test goes.
    • Re:8.0 Uses Gecko (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jmccay (70985)
      Compuserve and AOL are two different things. AOL has more freedom to change things on Compuserve. AOL is obligated to keep IE in the AOL code in order to keep there icon on the desktop with windows installs. Microsoft & AOL went to blows about it a year or so ago. Now that Mozilla 1.0 has been released though, AOL has a lot more power when it comes to bargaining because they can switch to mature open source code if they get removed from the desktop on windows installs. If I remember correctly, I think it was a four year agreement.
      • Re:8.0 Uses Gecko (Score:3, Informative)

        AOL no longer has that deal with MS. It expired last year IIRC and they couldn't negotiate a new deal. MS wanted AOL to drop Real and go with WMP, but AOL refused.
  • That's one small step for Gecko ( actually 3 tiny little quadruped steps). One Giant Leap for browser kind!

    I wonder if they will disable 'disable popups'.

  • by ites (600337)
    Trying something new for a niche platform
    makes sense when looking at the market.
    AOL does not need browser wars...
    but it needs to regain control of its user base.
    If AOL is smart it will test the waters
    before jumping in.
    Consider Gecko on Mac to be a prototype for
    a new AOL version for Windows.
  • pop-ups (Score:2, Interesting)

    by NASAKnight (588155)
    Does this mean AOLers can finally get rid of those stupid pop-up adds that AOL spews out at startup?

    Been aol free for 3 years, and I'd never go back

    • Do you really think AOL would keep the no-unrequested-windows option? NS6/7 didn't. :)

      In windows, you could registry hack it in, though... presumably the same is possible in Mac OS X somehow.
    • Does this mean AOLers can finally get rid of those stupid pop-up adds that AOL spews out at startup?

      I doubt it, as I understand it the popup killing code is part of Netscape/Mozilla not Gecko the rendering engine.
      • Re:pop-ups (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jay L (74152)
        I doubt it, as I understand it the popup killing code is part of Netscape/Mozilla not Gecko the rendering engine.

        Wouldn't matter anyway, as those popups are rendered by the AOL client, not the browser. (Even if they're HTML windows now, they're still launched by the client, not other browser windows.)

        However, that doesn't matter, because since 1996 you have been able to disable all popups at keyword MARKETING PREFS.
  • ...Web Standards Project [webstandards.org] link.

    I'm very glad to see this kind of progress actually taking place. Since I started not worrying about NS4 support (that is, giving NS4 dumbed-down or no styling at all), IE/win has become my arch-nemesis of web design. The broken box model alone is enough to keep a man (or woman) up nights.

    I hope the introduction of AOL gecko clients, especially for windows, will put a damper on the attitude of many web authors that "IE is all that matters," and "mozilla sucks because it doesn't support industry standards."

    • "I hope the introduction of AOL gecko clients, especially for windows, will put a damper on the attitude of many web authors that "IE is all that matters," and "mozilla sucks because it doesn't support industry standards.""

      Unfortunately not. Remember it boils down to end profits. Suppose 99% of your customer base is win+IE. And you have to spend a lot to redesign your web site, would you do it.. well no.
      The owner would be considering the end results. Is the ire of a minority community making a dent in his/her sales. If no then there is no reason for migration
      Of course, if the mozilla user base is significantly large only then people will migrate.
      And there are many such sites which have the attitude that win + Ie is all that matters. They dont simply care and they wont because they will get a steady stream of visitors on Ie_Win
      But Neverthless, this is a step in the right direction and one can olnly hope that common sense prevails
      Meanwhile you could check out Any Browser.org [anybrowser.org], another site dedicated to browser independent WWW
      • Yeah, but a guy can dream. I'll just keep coding to standards and hacking for IE when necessary. :/
      • It's all down to money but I don't think you're designing it right. A redesign of the code as opposed to sprucing up the graphics should not be done too often. The name of the game is to get the look you want, the functionality you want, and to push out as far as possible the next time you have to do it all over again. Debacles like the IE vulnerability on spoofed sites and warning sighns like AOL moving to gecko means that it's more important now to have your code be equally good on both major browser engines. Let's say your threshold is 15% of browser share before you start catering to it, your current gecko share is 10% and you don't want to do a redesign for the next 3 years. Moves like AOL moving to gecko are going to have an effect at the margin.
      • IE is about 89% of google hits, desigining your site for IE only would be the type of choice that would cause your company to go bankrupt. Good thing you have a job as a web designer, eh?
  • by Lobo (10944)
    It's good to see AOL use something other than IE. I think they are doing this for one main reason... Beta Test! It would be good to see AOL switch to Gecko on the Windows platform for no other reason than to give Microsoft what they deserve most... Competition.

  • AOL is still scared to death of Gates and will not try to piss him off by taking IE out of AOL. At least I don't think so.
  • Have you noticde that MS sites display correctly in Mozilla..I can even get winodws udpates..

    Its a consipracy to support Mozilla!

    Oh no! Mozilla is coming after AOL next!

  • And if this goes well, will the Windows version eventually use a Gecko-based browser, too?

    I almost said "No, not unless it's 100% compatible with sites that want to see IE"

    But then I thought about how screwy the AOL browsers have been in the past.

    I'd just fire up AOL and run IE, but 99% of AOL users don't know you can do that. The only twisted view of the world wide web they have is from inside of the AOL Browser.

    Remember all the porn sites that used to say, "AOL-friendly?"
  • Market trick (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by jukal (523582)
    Selecting Gecko for MacOSX is just a good market trick. It's market share is minimal, and I have understood the users (exactly one that I know) of MacOSX are already used to not being able to view everything similarly as the majority. Therefore, no-one looses, and AOL gets credit.
    • the target market of AOL is people who care deeply what rendering engine their browser use.
  • No Big Deal (Score:2, Informative)

    by InKonu (462829)
    Gecko or IE, it doesn't matter since any AOL users can still use whatever darn browser they please.

    InKonu
    • Except that AOL will shut off if THEIR interface is inactive too long (15 to 20 minutes). Sure, there are 3rd party programs that will keep aol running, while bloating your system.

      You just can't talk AOL users into another service, no matter how much you beat them.

  • If AOL wants to remain in existence, AOL needs to help topple the MS monopoly, first in browsers and then the desktop OS would help.

    The DOJ isn't going to do anything to MS, MS will be allowed to continue doing business how they please. Pretty soon, MS is going to start pushing MSN even harder. People will buy their PC and it will come with an MSN subscription and will come preconfigured to connect to the Internet via MSN. It will most likely use completely proprietary windows only connection and communication protocols. All software that people need will come on their PC, and they'll pay per use or rent monthly, and pay via their MSN bill.

    Whether that really happens that way or not is yet to be seen, but the danger to AOL from MS/MSN is very obvious, and if AOL wants to stay in business they had better start pushing to bring MS down off it's pedestal.

    AOL could start by spending less money giving me coasters, and use standard connection protocols, etc.

    Most people who use AOL continue to use AOL because that's what they've been using for a long time... AOL needs to start worrying about it's future.

    • If AOL wants to remain in existence, AOL needs to help topple the MS monopoly, first in browsers and then the desktop OS would help.

      AOL doesn't give a rip about toppling MS, nor should they. here's why:

      1) Right now, AOL only has to deal with two OS vendors, MS and Apple. And if Apple went away, they wouldn't be too bad off. But the point is, AOL is able to cut a deal with MS to keep AOL in Windows because of the DOJ, browser marketshare, et al (I'll touch on that in a sec.). Fragment the PC market into several OS's, and AOL is going to have a harder time cutting deals with various OS vendors. Worse yet, if Linux goes mainstream, how does that help AOL? It doesn't; in fact, most people savvy enough to use Linux despise AOL. I think it's safe to say that even if AOL did offer software for Linux, most distro's would shun it, or AOL would have to pay big bucks for inclusion.

      2) AOL is the largest ISP on the planet. MS is still rabid about ownership of the browser market. AOL owns the number two browser. Mix it all together, and you see that AOL has some leverage against MS. As long as they keep signing deals to keep IE as the browser of choice for AOL, then MS doesn't have to worry about losing marketshare. But, just have AOL switch over to Netscape, and MS loses control that they've spent years fighting for. I have no doubt that switching over to Gecko on the Mac is a thinly veiled threat; "Don't push us." So, AOL get a pre-install deal with Windows, and MS remains the browser of choice for the world's largest ISP.
  • by squaretorus (459130) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:04AM (#4060773) Homepage Journal
    The reason being that its easy. Most clients of web companies use PCs with the latest version of XP and IE installed - why?

    Because its easy. IE has its flaws, but its pretty much universal and good enough. With .NET you can actually SMELL the IE bias as soon as you start building a page. This keep development costs down and delivery schedules easy to estimate.

    By building for IE and offering to 'do a mac version if you get complaints / lose customers' most web houses cover their arse while keeping it simple. And the carrot? 'Its cheap as chips to do in IE, but a bitch to do cross browser - so it'll costs lots more - it'll be cheaper in the long run to do two versions, and you probably wont need the second version anyway!'

    IE is here to stay.
    • Well in my experience (our company does web development) it makes sense to build sites for Mozilla as a reference, because chances are they will look good in IE, too. Sadly the same cannot be said the other way around. At least we don't have to "optimize" for Netscape 4.x anymore, that one was pure evil! But you can actually develop most cross-browser things quite painless if you start off with that good old Mozilla! (Well, if you know how to avoid the common pitfalls, anyway)
    • I don't because a great number of our target audience (that's paying customers to you dot-bomb folks) are still using Netscape 4.x. A few are still using (shudder) Netscape 2.x or 3.x. We have no choice. And it works; but it ain't easy or fun.
    • I really doubt that, have you any statistics that shows that the latest versions of XP and IE are already more popular than older versions?
    • If you are coding to standards, the only time cross-browsing is a bitch is having to deal with the NS4 series. Other than that, I have had trivial things display differently in mozilla and IE, so developing a cross-browser site is not nearly as difficult as everyone makes out.
    • Speak for yourself. You may think that doing a half-assed job is just fine until someone complains, but that's not how a professional operates. My latest web app is used nationwide by over 2000 auto dealerships and processes ~30000 apps a month, and I can assure you that going IE only was never even an option. In fact I would likely have been fired. Beyond all that, I would truly enjoy hearing you explain to a business manager that you had purposely designed a system that some (even if only a few) of your customers cannot access easily.

      LEXX
      • Be as purist as you like, but most businesses I have dealt with in the last 15 years have a pretty shitty attitude towards the disabled. And most apply those attitudes to people who use 'wierd' browsers.

        If you can deliver your service to 90% of your potential audience for £100K, or 100% of your potential audience for £500K it doesn't take a genius to figure that you prove the 90% want the thing before investing the additional £400K.
    • By building for web standards compliance and offering to 'do a IE specific version if you get complaints / lose customers' most web houses cover their arse while keeping it simple. And the carrot? 'Its cheap as chips to do in W3 standards, but a bitch to do cross browser - so it'll costs lots more - it'll be cheaper in the long run to do one version, because you probably wont need the second version anyway!'

      Oh, and don't confuse cross platform (Mac/Windows) with cross browser (IE vs standards compliance)
    • With .NET you can actually SMELL the IE bias as soon as you start building a page.

      As long as you don't use "SmartNavigation" (which is buggy anyway) most things will work well in non-IE browsers. ASP.NET automagically generates a "downlevel" version of your page. I regularly test our ASP.NET apps with both Opera and Mozilla, even though they are officially "IE Only" (Intranet tools). Considering that we don't even care to support non-IE browsers, I'm happy that for the most part other browsers are reasonably supported.
  • by DeadBugs (546475) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:04AM (#4060774) Homepage
    AOL is not all bad. I use the following

    Gnutella

    WinAmp

    IM

    Mozilla

  • ...need I say more?

    ::is modded down::

    "That was uncalled for!"
  • Mac IE != Windows IE (Score:5, Informative)

    by salimma (115327) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:11AM (#4060808) Homepage Journal
    Mac IE is a totally separate product from its Windows counterpart. I'm not too sure about whether it exposes itself as a DCOM component like WinIE, and thus is easily embeddable into other programs, but its rendering engine is definitely different - MacIE passes Mozilla's rendering tests [mozilla.org], whereas WinIE does not.

    On the other hand, MacIE has incomplete support for certificates - try going to a site with a certificate from an unknown (to IE) provider in MacIE and it would not let you in (in version 5.1 and under at least).

    Besides, they already have a browser product that uses Gecko - the one used by their subsidiary, Compuserve. It makes sense to migrate AOL on Windows last, since there is no pressing need.

    • The newest version doesn't support arbitrary ssl certs either. I use Apache-SSL as a backend to our troubleticket system with a self generated cert. Mac IE is useless for accessing this system. Macs have to use either Mozilla or NS4 to access it.
    • Mac IE is a totally separate product from its Windows counterpart. I'm not too sure about whether it exposes itself as a DCOM component like WinIE...

      A what now? Not sure about that. Don't see anything sticking out that says DCOM.

      Mine's purple.

  • IMHO, IE is by far the best browser out there. I'll admit, this may be so because sites taylor to the IE crowd, but I've found for speed, user friendliness, and ease of use, IE takes the cake. I use galeon on my Linux workstations, but I feel its more unstable and less reliable than IE. I know competition is healthy, but when I is the best then they need to come up with something to compete.
  • I don't understand everyone talking about how it will make web designers make their sites compatible for all browsers. I use Mozilla and have never come accross a site that renders with serious errors. Most pages look the same in all browsers.
  • IMO, Mozilla blows away IE 5 on the Mac (as opposed to being about even with IE5/6 on the PC). It's faster and neither are preloaded. Very smart move.

    • Huh? I recently got a TiBook at home, and a new G4 at work, IE5.5 was preloaded and set up as the default browser on both of them. (this quickly changed, because the one and only time I used IE on either machine was to go to mozilla.org)

      IE is on, and has been on all shipping Macs for several years now.. both OS 9 and OS X.
  • This is just one more AOL groupthink idiocy from the same people who bought NS because it was not IE. Now this "We're better than good, wer're different !!!"

    C'mon - the company is in deep shit financially and however they can provide a C+ average function for free is what they will do. This has nothing to do with you.
  • Just to be the devils advocate, I have been reading up on lots of browser stuff for the redesign of my site and from what I have learnt it appears that Internet Explorer is better on the Mac than it is on the PC. This is mainly because IE on the Mac is far more standards compliant with better CSS2 support and full support for PNG transparency.

    As far as IE on the PC goes version 6 aint so bad because it is step closer to better CSS2 support, though it is still a far cry from Mozilla's CSS and PNG support.
    • Several posters here have said that IE on the Mac is one of the best programs for CSS2 (and whatever) standards support out there. So this is well known.

      This also implies that it must be a different code base than IE on Windows. In that case, is it really all that compatable with IE? I would not be suprised if Mozilla/Gecko are more compatable with Windows IE because they had a need to test sites and get as many as possible to work, while MicroSoft had no incentive to do such testing since it would have no effect on how many copies of Mac IE they sold.

      Does anybody know of sites that work on Windows IE that don't work on Mac IE (ignoring windows-only plugins, of course). Are there any examples of sites that don't work on Mac IE that work in Mozilla?

      It is quite possible that AOL is risking nothing by switching the Mac version to Gecko. In fact they may be reducing their risk.

    • Internet Explorer is better on the Mac than it is on the PC

      Maybe a few years ago. But not now. I have CSS sites that work fine in Mozilla and IE6, then fall apart in IE5 for Mac.

  • by Lethyos (408045) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:49AM (#4061033) Journal
    As far as I recall, web designers/builders/maintainers/whatevers have traditionally ignored AOL, passing them off as irrelevant (for a variety of reasons from the custom browser they used to use, to the fact that AOL users are stupid by stereotype). To answer the question posted in the story, yes, I think the trends towards developing for Internet Explorer will (sadly) continue, for two reasons. First, the irrelevance AOL is considered to embody (read up), and second, because web design doesn't pay what it used to. As a result, those who want web sites built want them built as quickly as possible. Making cross-platform web sites is more expensive than IE-only.

    It's still good to see yet another large company "support" open source software... Even if they do nothing other than lend credibility to a particular project.
    • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @10:04AM (#4061134)
      AOL is the SINGLE most important demographic for anyone in the B2C space. They are followed closely by people that use MSN's search engine. People that use Yahoo's search engine are a distant third.

      People that run NS6/Mozilla are meaningless. Google searchers with any browser are kinda worthless.

      NS4 users are important, you get people at work at low-tech companies.

      I mean, it depends what you are doing. If you are building crazy flash sites with loud annoying noises, ignore AOL. My sites try to make money, like hell I'll ignore the largest contingent of shoppers, just because people think that they are stupid.

      I'll take an semi-illiterate user running AOL 5.0 on an 800x600 monitor visiting my site over a "1337 Linux Hacker" running a Mozilla beta shopping me and 12 competitors to save 50 cents...

      Alex
      • NS4 users are important, you get people at work at low-tech companies [...]

        And also a lot of high-tech. We've got a huge military-industrial community here, and almost all are still running NS4 on various flavours of UNIX. I guess when you work at these places, you just don't pull the latest updates for a product off an external website unless you don't want to work there anymore.
  • by jvmatthe (116058) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:58AM (#4061093) Homepage
    Recent big moves by the tech industry indicate that free software is moving forward, for the good of all. IBM's offerings, Sun's offerings, Apple, and now AOL with this full embrace of Gecko on MacOS X (the newest UNIX on the block!). We have free software replacements for web browsers, desktop environments, office productivity apps, and on and on.

    Yet, there is one very painful area in which free software has not stepped up and provided GNU replacements. This key area is preventing the adoption of free software for the standard desktop, and it must be remedied soon, or all will be lost.

    Thus, I propose that the FSF take up the following projects as soon as developers can be found:
    • GNU Hunter for BSD - A deer^H^H^H^HGNU hunting simulation game. Finally, the unwashed masses can put down their weapons, leave their Windows machines behind, and massacre virtual deer on a free operating system. Expansions for various critters should be developed by the community using a plugin system. A lucrative deal with Wal-mart will follow.
    • GNASCAR for GNU/Linux - Utilizing OpenGL for mind-blowing 3D graphics, this brings all the thrill of speeding around oval tracks to the free software world. I suggest a "dynasty mode" that includes famous names like Earnhart and Petty.
    • WWE: Wrestling the GNU Way for GNU/Linux - Enter the ring against Raymond, Stallman, Moglen, Perens, and the king of them all TORVALDS! Unlock secret characters like CmdrTaco and Roblimo.

    Until this hole is plugged in the free software front, we are fighting a losing battle.
  • There are so many pages out there that have been developed with IE specific features, that making this switch too soon would stop people using the AOL browser all together. If they roll this out slowly, it will give developers time to switch. That's why it's more important than ever to notify sites that do not work well in Mozilla and NS6 so that the developers get the message and get their sites fixed. That being said, if AOL would make a rock solid commitment to moving to gecko, it would really light a fire under the developers and thier bosses to be proactive in finding the problems in their sites. I'm no fan of AOL, but if they can help get standard based web pages more common, then I'm all for them!
  • America Online plans to stick with Internet Explorer for their Windows client

    Where does it say this? The linked article just says "no major changes", but that could be taken any number of ways, like "no major user-visible changes". I'm guessing he average AOL user won't be able to tell the difference between an IE based AOL and a Gecko one.

    I really don't think we'll know which way AOL is going until 8.0 is actually released.

  • I know AOL was planning to do this anyway, but could this move be part of a new partnership between AOL and Apple?

    OS X.2, will include an Apple derived IM client using AOL's network, and now AOL ditches IE on the Mac. Maybe the two are working up some larger plans in order to push on M$. They are already pushing AOL chat on OS X and now they are pushing IE off as well. If the Mac starts to make a resurgence on th e consumer's desktop, maybe this will make a people wake up and realize that there are other things other than M$ out there that deserve their attention.

  • Will this make web designers think twice about tailoring their web pages to Internet Explorer? Or will they ignore this, given that the Windows client will still have Internet Explorer as the default browser?

    If the designers aren't already doing something to make sure their sites are at least palatable on browsers other than IE, its unlikely that this will make any bit of difference to them. Of course the smart ones out there are already designing for standards compliance and won't have to worry about it.
  • I'm just curious: does anyone know if this embedded Gecko is taking stuff out of the Chimera tree? Or maybe a better question: where off of Mozilla did they branch?

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