In recent news IBM officially proclaimed Mozilla Firefox as the corporate browser of choice. The news was picked up by major news outlets such as CNet, readwriteweb.com and ars technica (“IBM embraces Firefox, adopts it internally“). The news even made it to small Denmark as a news item on Version 2 (“IBM gør Firefox til standardbrowser for 400.000 ansatte“; English: IBM makes Firefox the default browser for 400.000 employees).
While I really like the choice being a multi-year-long Firefox user myself it raises a question. If Microsoft Internet Explorer isn’t a good choice for a web browser and not something that IBM wants to bet their money on for internal web browser usage how come it’s still good enough as a core component in Lotus Notes 8? As you might know most (if not all) e-mail rendering in Lotus Notes is done using Internet Explorer. Also Internet Explorer is the browser of choice for web-based Composite Application components (on Windows anyway). Despite the hate for Internet Explorer that some may carry around it works and works well.
It does however raise an interesting question…
What’s to stop Microsoft from introducing a special “feature” in Internet Explorer that makes it crash when used inside Lotus Notes? Customers would blame Lotus Notes while the “feature” would in effect cripple all Lotus Notes 8 e-mail rendering on the Windows platform. The only thing that I can see stopping them from a move like this is behaving nicely – but how long will that continue?
If only there was a way to solve that problem… Well there is. Create a SWT Browser component that uses Webkit or another open source rendering engine that IBM can control and can continue to control. That would put IBM Lotus back in control of a core component of their own product. Maybe this egg is too precious to put in another vendors basket.