The writing has been on the wall for some time, but now it's official:
Internet Explorer on the OS X platform will go unsupported at the end
of 2005. This browser has seen no active development since 2003, but its
users were at least provided with security updates. No more; IE for the
Mac is at a dead end.
There is little that OS X users can do about this decision. IE is very
much a closed-source application, so there is no way for anybody to take
over its maintenance after Microsoft walks away. This browser is dead, and
its users have no choice but to seek alternatives; fortunately, a number of
good alternatives exist. But anybody who was truly dependent on this piece
of software is out of luck. It is always this way with proprietary
software; it can disappear out from under you at its owner's whim.
Earlier this year, the Mozilla Foundation announced that it was
discontinuing support for the Mozilla browser suite. The Foundation saw
its future in the independent Firefox and Thunderbird applications, and
felt that the time had come to move past its one-time flagship suite.
Mozilla users, of whom there are many, had little say in this decision; the
Foundation makes its own decisions on how best to pursue its goals.
But Mozilla is free software. So a group of dedicated users came together
to continue the maintenance and development of the Mozilla suite, using the
old SeaMonkey name. Mozilla/SeaMonkey is a large body of code, not
something to be taken on lightly. But the SeaMonkey hackers thought that
they could handle it.
On December 19, these hackers announced
the availability of SeaMonkey 1.0 Beta. The release includes a number of
new features, including drag-and-drop tabs, SVG support, "blazingly fast
back," and much more. It provides the full suite of tools: web browser,
email client, HTML editor, IRC chat tool, DOM inspector, and two varieties
of kitchen sink. This is the full suite, updated with the latest work from
Firefox and elsewhere. The SeaMonkey hackers would appear to be up to the
And, yes, it works on OS X.
It would be hard to come up with a better example of why free software
matters. There are a great many Mozilla users who will never look at the
code, but they will still benefit from the freedom of that code. As long
as there is a sufficient interest in the community, Mozilla, in the form of
SeaMonkey, will live on. No proprietary software has such a bright future.
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