I am quite curious what people think of the idea of making Internet Explorer open source. I know it would never happen (ok, very very unlikely), but the recent release of IE7 final got me thinking about this again.
Here’s my thoughts. If Internet Explorer was to be open sources:
1. Millions of more eyes looking at the code, therefore a plethora of new exploits/bugs would be found and in turn also be fixed quicker. Open Source: +1
2. Perhaps if they were to open source IE we could finally make the sweeping (and much needed) rendering/CSS updates that badly need to be done. Microsoft has made it abundantly clear with the final release of IE7 that they are going to just go about taking their sweet time to update the handling of CSS standards for example (just to name one huge lacking area). My thought is that a community could handle this fairly daunting task in a much more time efficient manner. Open Source: +1
3. It’s likely that if they were to open source IE then it would no longer be bundled so deeply into the core of any future versions of Windows. This is not necessarily a bad thing. With the recent upgrade of IE7 we all became painfully aware of how deeply Internet Explorer is baked into Windows. What other web browser needs to restart the computer to be installed? That is a ridiculous requirement at this point in software. Very few software applications should require a system reboot, especially something as non-system critical as a web browser. Also along this separation from the Windows core would be a greater level of security. We all know perfectly well about all of the vulnerabilities in IE (and even Firefox for that matter). It would help the overall security of Windows to have one less application that is very prone to exploitation being so closely tied into the core security of the entire OS. Less built in applications = less sources of problems. Open Source: +1 (sort of)
My main reason for thinking about this was due to the fact that I did not see any (ok, very little) innovation on the part of Microsoft with Internet Explorer 7. This release contains virtually no new features that have not been taken, copied, or based off of existing products. I think the community could come up with better ideas and a quicker period of time.
Please state any ideas/thoughts agreeing with my ideas, contracting my ideas, or just in general about this. I am curious to see what people think.