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Has Internet Explorer's Killer Arrived?

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Pile on the polish, Chrome. Add fuel, Firefox. Get a guide, Internet Explorer. Web veteran Marc Andreesen is back, preparing to avenge Netscape with a new browser called RockMelt.

Or maybe not. We don't really know what this new browser is, beyond a New York Times report that it may feature hooks into Facebook and other social media. Andreesen also isn't suiting up as a developer for this venture. He's the bagman this time -- his venture capital fund has committed capital to privately held RockMelt.

"We have backed a really good team," Andreesen told the Times in an early summer interview. Here, the "team" includes co-founders Eric Vishria and Tim Howes, both of whom worked with Andreesen at Opsware before Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) acquired it in 2007. This time, they're out to transform what it means to make a browser -- or so it would seem.

Skeptics have a right to question Andreesen's sanity. A new browser? Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Chrome has done little to take share away from Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) IE. Firefox is an established browser, but it only accounts for roughly one-quarter of the market. What's so special about RockMelt? If only we had the answer.

Still, it would be premature to dismiss Andreesen's latest venture as nonsensical. Browsers, on the whole, remain pretty dumb. Firefox battles back with plug-ins. Chrome promises multiprocessing for a more stable surfing experience. Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) Safari sells itself with speed. Norway's Opera promises a smarter peer-to-peer Web.

What none of them offer however, is aggregation -- a better way to view the Web and all the ways we connect to other people using it. Google Wave is as close as we've seen in this area.

Thanks to Andreesen and RockMelt, that example may be just the beginning.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy thanks you for reading this far. Here, have a cookie.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (5)

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  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2009, at 3:26 PM, ReadEmAnWeep wrote:

    Anyone still using IE needs to get out. Download Firefox for free, or better yet! Get google's Chrome.

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2009, at 6:04 PM, CUL8RALiG8r wrote:

    IE 8 is great--fast, stable, secure (more secure than Firefox or Chrome according to articles this week), standards compliant, great tabs, very cool accerators, etc. etc. Try it, rather than read old complaints about IE 6 and make assumptions.

    As to this article--great! The more browsers competing the better! But could you fit any substance into the article? :)

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2009, at 7:56 PM, forever4now wrote:


    IE8 standards compliant? IE8 is certainly better than previous versions of IE, but it is still not standards compliant.

    Run the Acid3 test below and compare the results to any of the other major browsers (Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera). IE8 is dead last in terms of standards compliance.

    While your at it, run the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark test:

    The SunSpider test, for example, shows Chrome 3.0 executing JavaScript roughly 10x faster than IE.

    Let's not even talk about HTML5 support.

    People/companies should get off IE, until Microsoft demonstrates it is serious about joining the internet community and delivering a modern, fully standards compliant browser.

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