Internet Explorer on Android or iOS? Not in Microsoft's current plans

Internet Explorer on Android or iOS? Not in Microsoft's current plans

Summary: The cross-platform push may be on at 'cloud first/mobile first' Microsoft, but for now, Internet Explorer isn't one of the products the company is planning to make available on iOS or Android.

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(Image via CNET)

There's been a big cross-platform push at Microsoft for the past year or so, with the company releasing its software and services for non-Windows-powered devices — sometimes even ahead of the Windows versions.

So what about Internet Explorer? There was a version of IE for Mac up until 2003, after all. So couldn't — and shouldn't — a "cloud first/mobile first" Microsoft make IE available on non-Windows devices, too?

It sounds like the answer, at least for now, is no. 

In a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) on August 14, when asked about making IE available on iOS and Android, an IE team member answered:

"Right now, we're focused on building a great mobile browser for Windows Phone and have made some great progress lately. So, no current plans for Android/iOS. We are committed to improving our own engine. We love the fact that the web was built on multiple competing (yet interoperable) platforms and believe that this is how it is going to move forward into the future!" 

Microsoft is enabling developers to test IE sites using Macs, but that's about it for now, another respondent said.

There were some other good tidbits in the IE Reddit AMA. For one, Microsoft may bring over some of the features in "Modern"/Immersive/Metro Style IE to desktop IE.

"There are some great features that are in the immersive version (FlipAhead, reading view, using site images to represent Favorites, swiping to navigate back and forward...) that we'd like to bring over to the desktop. Feel free to tell us any of your thoughts or what you'd like to see, too," said one IE team member.

Based on Microsoft IE team responses, it also sounds like Microsoft plans to make a UserVoice feedback and feature suggestion site available for IE some time soon. 

Microsoft IE team members repeatedly found themselves responding to those who don't believe IE has changed much from the bad old days.

There's been talk — including some very recently — inside the company about rebranding IE to reflect the newer, more standards-centric focus by the IE team, one of the Microsoft Reddit participants acknowledged. 

"It's (rebranding's) been suggested internally; I remember a particularly long email thread where numerous people were passionately debating it. Plenty of ideas get kicked around about how we can separate ourselves from negative perceptions that no longer reflect our product today," the Softie said. (Another joked that "Ultron" — the villain in Marvel comic books — was one name considered, which Microsoft lawyers vetoed.)

Asked why IE doesn't do automatic updating like Chrome and Firefox, an IE staffer responded:

"When a new version of IE is pushed out, it's setup as an important update and for those users with automatic updates turned on in Windows (which is the majority) they automatically get the newest version."

In response to the same question from another participant, a Microsoft IE team member noted, "We've gotten faster. Went from two years to 18 months to 12 months. We're getting better but more work to do."

Microsoft officials noted that the company has begun delivering new IE features, not just bug fixes and security patches, as part of Microsoft's Patch Tuesday updates. This week's August Patch Tuesday updates included new WebGL and F12 development tool features.

Microsoft also recently announced plans for IE to block outdated ActiveX plug-ins, starting September 9. And as of January 2016, Microsoft will drop support for IE 8 and will require users on various versions of Windows to use the most current browsers available for those platforms in order to continue to receive security fixes and patches from the company.

The IE team provides a public-facing web site (status.modern.ie) that lists features on which Microsoft is planning to support and not support in future versions of its browser.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Browser, iOS, IT Priorities, Microsoft, IT Policies

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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43 comments
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  • It'll be as popular as Safari on Windows is

    There's literally no point in porting it across.
    bradavon
    • IE is behind the curve for Safari

      And Safari sites not touch Chrome or Firefox, so who in their right mind would be interested in IE? And all the security holes it has. If I could, I would remove it from my work MS boxes!
      Uralbas
      • Explain

        Explain what you think these "security holes" are.
        Buster Friendly
        • Simple answer Buster..

          ..Look at every patch day and you will see a neverendning list of security holes in IE, Office, Windows..
          Bladeforce
          • And?

            All browsers get patched, and all browser have security holes.
            Michael Alan Goff
      • Not Any More

        You are equating IE with the old IE . There is a world of difference. it has been majorly improved in every way.
        Jillxz
        • Not in all the windows versions i've tested

          Improved? What takes only 3mins for an i3 to load the start page not 5 mins? IE is crap and android has loads of better browsers all ready. I use maxthon on windows PC which. Which is like an improved chrome based cloud browser or Opera. On Linux I use Firefox.
          Mi Pen
        • It's still behind

          All the improvements of the "new" IE just puts it in the state other browsers were 3-4 years ago.
          YouAreSuperWrong
    • It depends

      It depends on what they do with the sync. Between Windows 8 systems, your bookmarks, saved passwords, tabs, and other settings follow you. They could extend that to mobile through IE.
      Buster Friendly
      • They have on windows phone 8.1.

        It's a great addition for windows phone, as all my favorites, passwords, etch now sync with windows 8. As a mobile browser it's gotten a lot better. They could likely port it to android without too much fuss, but ios would be another story. Last I knew apple didn't allowing any other rendering engines than their own.
        thewags05
        • I'm still waiting

          Nice...I'm still waiting on T-Mobile to get 8.1.
          Buster Friendly
          • Download the developer preview app

            and sign up, it'll only take a couple of minutes. You can easily bypass the carrier for the actual OS upgrades. You'll still have to wait for the firmware updates, but at least you'll get the upgraded OS.
            thewags05
        • Agreed

          I like the way Chrome syncs my bookmarks and passwords whether I'm on my phone, tablet or PC. microsoft should recognize that, for the time being, most people who use I.E. on their Desktops are using an Andriod or iOS phone. So bringing out IE for Andriod and iOS (to the extent possible) actually makes IE a more attractive option on the desktop.
          dsf3g
    • Doesn't have to be another Safari on Windows

      Sure if you brought IE to iOS relatively few would see the need to download. However if you brought IE to iOS under the guise of search things could be different. The Bing app is already on every platform, why not bring Cortana as well and have Bing/Cortana search results open links into a version of IE inside those apps. Of course it would also sync your favorites and open tabs across all devices too. Bing and Cortana get more powerful and useful the more people use them, so they have to be on every major platform. But why should these search apps open results in another app like Safari on iOS when they could render them with IE internally.
      cool8man
  • Who would want a security hole the size of a barn door?

    :)
    jessepollard
    • wake up

      sleeping beauty
      moodjbow
    • Explain

      Explain - be specific.
      Buster Friendly
  • why don't Microsoft just use Windows...

    ... instead of a browser. And what about allowing devs to build apps in the cloud from 'hybrid (universal) UI controls that stream XAML on Windows devices or emit HTML for non-Windows devices?
    rmac_z
    • Good Luck With That Plan

      A hackers dream
      Alan Smithie
      • I don't need luck only MS to listen.

        And would that really bring something which was any more vulnerable than iOS or Android? Can't see it. And the advantage would be huge.
        rmac_z