Scott Hanselman

Adding Tabs to Internet Explorer (IE) and the Rise, no, uh, er, fall of the Integrated Application

February 05, 2005 Comment on this post [6] Posted in Speaking | Tools
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I was asked today how to add Tabs and Tabbed Browsing to IE. Since "Use FireFox" wasn't appreciated as an answer, I pointed them to:

  • MyIE2/Maxthon - Renamed Maxthon recently, this has a load of toolbars, Skins, Gestures and
  • AvantBrowser - Feels from MDI and is free. Includes Skins, cleans up your tracks and filters Flash.

Which got me thinking. Is there room for IE-based browsers? Or are they just potential spyware-carriers? Do we need another browser? So many people were lamenting the lack of an IE7 on the Horizon and have been moving away from the "one browser/webapp for them all" view as RSS Readers are being favored by many over the integrated experience. Are there too many apps out there? We seem to oscillate between lots of 'applets' and lots of do-it-all apps.

Visual Studio seems to be taking lots of the best Add-In (applet) ideas and merging them into the mainline making Visual Studio the "Outlook" of development. I'm the guy with lists of utils, but in an average day, I may only touch:

  • iTunes
  • VS.NET (with a crapload of addins)
  • Virtual PC
  • Dragon NaturallySpeaking
  • Word
  • Outlook (with NewsGator)
  • BlogJet
  • VS.NET Command Prompt
  • Messenger

This is a pretty small list. Does this show some kind of pattern? Are apps becoming more laser focused? or more shotgun approach? Is there room for a dozen different RSS Readers? or just a few?

I also wonder if we're "red vs. blue-ing" the desktop application space:

  • Thunderbird vs. Outlook/Entourage
  • Newsgator vs. FeedDemon
  • Word vs. OpenOffice
  • Messenger vs. Trillian
  • VS.NET vs. Eclipse
  • Virtual PC vs. VMWare

I know it's not that really that polarized, but sometimes it feels as such. I guess that's just the magic of evolution/opensource/freemarket ecomony.


Now playing: Mos Def - Next Universe..

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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February 05, 2005 7:32
Hey, Scott: Are you aware that VS.NET can function as a tabbed, IE-based browser?
February 05, 2005 10:19
I'd say Newsgator vs. Omea Reader. It's free (until the end of March, I believe.) Check it out.
February 06, 2005 20:47
I think that "red vs. blue-ing" is a good observation. There has been something in the pro/con division regarding Microsoft and Microsoft products that is more than an assessment of quality--it's political.

There's a certain faction that feels that dealing with Microsoft products is "dirty" or less sophisticated. You see it in references to "M$" and "microsofties" (with emphasis on the "soft"). There's also something about "David vs. Goliath" in the whole thing, the "little guy" asserting his voice against the piercing drone of a ravenous mammoth machine consuming everything in its path (I’m waxing dramatic).

While the “sophistication” complaint continues, it’s getting much harder to argue. There have been just too many truly excellent minds brought on (consumed) by Microsoft: Ward Cunningham, Martin Fowler (as advisor), and Gregor Hophe (as advisor) to name a few, each of whom holds an honored seat among the software sophisiticates. Now the battle appears to be driven to higher ground. You see it in the recent conflagration between Jack Greenfield, et al, and Grady Booch regarding software factories. These massive software heavyweights are battling in the aether; out on the far fringes of what most developers feel is pertinent to the job at hand.

But even if Microsoft finds its spot among the “old money” software elites, there will still be those who “rage against the machine”. And that’s a good thing. Competition drives innovation.

(As I write this, it occurs to me that the attack on Microsoft has two primary vectors: a populist grassroots opensource vector, and an elitist software sophisticate vector. Politics truly does make for strange bedfellows.)
February 11, 2005 3:21
FireFox does "work" from end user point of view, but if you look under the hood, it's pretty screwed up. You have to write code in JavaScript (along with XUL) to get your work done. That's nice for small extentions but I can't imagine it using for 25,000 line product. Though, you can go along XPCOM route which is even more uglier (it's cross-plateform version of MS COM. Those teenage guys who usually cry about MS copieng from everyone have now copied in almost entirity ugliest technology ever developed by MS- interface by interface!). So point is, yeah, it's kind of cool-end user-surprise-your-friends-by-extentions browser but you can't really think of integrating it with apps like the way you do with IE. Whether you use it or not, you always gonna carry IE with you (assuming you don't leave windows). And it will used everytime you open Outlook or MSDN help browser or other myrids of apps starts. So as far as desktop presence is concerned, IEs share never went down. I don't think MS is just sitting there and enjoing fireworks. Undoubtbly new IE would be released with attractive MS-style new features and bundled in Windows update (even if might take 2-3 years) and once it's here, everybody would be running around to get it. As you can imagine, whatever misely share FireFox took away will return back in no time. FireFox's "success" of getting 10% market share would is probably look like a spike in long historical graph.
February 16, 2005 11:09
I prefer to use a browser which is not so closely tied to my system, so that a compromise of my browser doesn't neccesarily mean a compromise of my system.
February 24, 2005 0:08
Slimbrowser is an awesome browser that is written on top of IE.

"Slim Browser is a tabbed multiple-site browser. It incorporates a large collection of powerful features like built-in popup killer, skinned window frame, form filler, site group, quick-search, auto login, hidden sites, built-in commands and scripting, online translation, script error suppression, blacklist / whitelist filtering, URL Alias. It brings you convenient and comfortable browsing."

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.