Microsoft Drops Mac Browser

After years of being stuck in the mud technologically, Motley Fool Inside Value pick Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) finally announced that it will kill the Mac version of its Internet Explorer browser in early 2006.

Honestly? It's about time.

Don't get me wrong; I still think Microsoft makes good software for the Mac. I use Entourage for information management. I'm using Word to hunt and peck my way through this story. And I even use PowerPoint for speaking gigs. But IE -- as Internet Explorer for the Mac has become known -- is a dog. I only use it when I write at my local Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) , and that's only because it won't block the pop-up window that tells me I've logged in to the wireless network.

Besides, there are plenty of other great browsers for the Mac. Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) own Safari, with its built-in RSS reader, is one. The red-hot Firefox is another. But that shouldn't small-f fool you into thinking that the news out of Redmond is somehow a victory for either program; indeed, neither may be the best browser for the Mac. I've got both programs myself, but my daily favorite is Firefox's open-source cousin Camino, also from the Mozilla Foundation. (It's one of the highest-rated browsers at popular downloading site VersionTracker.)

It's no surprise that IE has lagged other Mac browsers. Microsoft announced it would stop developing IE for the Mac six months after Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) CEO Steve Jobs rolled out Safari, built from open-source Konqueror technology, at the January 2003 Macworld conference and lovefest.

The real winner here? Open source. Think about it. Neither Apple nor Microsoft does much business in browsing. But by my estimation, browsers have become a proving ground of sorts for the open-source experiment. By abandoning the Mac market, I'd say Mr. Softy has given open-source alternatives of all stripes -- from browsers to servers to desktop applications -- a badge of honor, and a spot of credibility. With open-source alternatives battling Microsoft products for market share across the PC world, it's a boost those programs desperately need.

Further Foolishness for any OS:

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is looking forward to the new Intel-equipped PowerBooks. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what's in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.

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