Internet Explorer, what's in a name?

Internet Explorer, what's in a name?

Summary: Microsoft's Internet Explorer developers mulled changing the name of Internet Explorer to something else? Sure, that would work. Not.


Internet Explorer. The name of Microsoft's internet browser product. Embroiled in controversy. Steeped in security issues. Plagued with performance problems. Yet, we all know it by name. Some product names stick like glue, while others never really reflect the true character of the technology or the innovation of what's behind the face. For example, every time I hear the name 'Vista', I cringe, whether it's Microsoft related or not. The name is now associated with something so bad that I can't shake the negative connotations of it. To many of you, Internet Explorer brings up bad thoughts. Admittedly, unless I'm at work, I use Chrome. I use Chrome on my Mac mini, my iPad, my iPhone, and often on my work computer. I only use Internet Explorer (IE) when necessary at my day job.

Read this

Internet Explorer, Windows XP rank highly at work, but BYOD threatens mutiny

Internet Explorer, Windows XP rank highly at work, but BYOD threatens mutiny

Bring your own device to work? According to Forrester research, that's mixing up the browser market space, despite Internet Explorer keeping its top-dog status. Meanwhile, Windows XP still ranks highly at work despite one year left until support gets cut off.

This post is in response to a Twitter chat (Hashtag: #AskIE) that I saw a few days ago featuring the Internet Explorer development team. Side note: How brave these people are for engaging the Twitterati on such an incendiary topic as Internet Explorer. I would not have been that brave unless I'd worn asbestos-lined pants that day. I've read some of the commentary and all I can say is "Wow".

My favorite comment is the one that reads something like, "Were you picked last in school sports too?" Now that's funny. It drives home the point that some people believe that being on the IE Dev Team would be a punishment, not a reward. Like the guy who graduates at the bottom of his flight training in the military. Sure, he is still a pilot, but he has to fly cargo planes and not F-16s.

The IE Dev Team attempted to let us know that the IE of today (Currently version 11) is not the IE of yesterday.

Not everyone is convinced of the improvement.

Personally, I don't really care. I'm not someone who buys into the so called "browser wars". I use Chrome and until something better hits the market, I'll stick with it. So far nothing has, even with Chrome's flaws and imperfections, I can't use anything else.

But back to IE. During the chat, someone mentioned that the team debated on changing the product's name from Internet Explorer.

I don't think that IE is a bad name, but I do think it was a bad product. I write 'was' in response to their alledged improvements. I don't use it enough anymore to be able to comment. I use it when I have to for SharePoint work and for internal websites that work better on IE, but other than that, it's a non-issue to me.

I don't think changing the name would have any effect on the perception of the product from anyone with an ounce of technical or historical technical knowledge.

What would the new name have been? Here are some of my ideas and guesses:

  • Internet Surfer - obvious name
  • Opaque - because of Microsoft's lack of transparency
  • Bob - might as well try again with this one
  • Interositer - cool name from "This Island Earth"
  • Brozilla - why not, Mozilla is open source
  • Chromate - a Google dig
  • Internet Hyperbrowser - fits with Hyper-V
  • Quest - MUD player reference
  • Coastline - think about it
  • Hodad - look it up
  • Malibu - an awesome beach-related name
  • Nug - a prime wave

There are names that Microsoft never intended to be used for IE, such as Internet Exploder and Internet Exploiter. Personally speaking, I never had any real problems beyond some performance-related ones, where the browser either would freeze/break or just sit there "spinning" forever.

I feel bad for the IE Dev Team because of their assumed status as poor programmers. Perhaps they shouldn't rename the product but rather themselves. Instead of telling anyone that they're on the IE Dev Team, they could simply say that they're "Internet application developers" and don't get more specific than that. 

I do hope, for their sakes and ours, that IE 11 and newer will be better, more secure, faster, more stable, and less of a nuisance. As long as I have to use a Windows operating system and a Microsoft browser, I always hope that the next version is better than the last.

What do you think Internet Explorer should be renamed to? Would it matter? Do you think IE 11 is better than previous versions? Talk back and let me know.


Topics: Microsoft, Software, Software Development


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Use IE first...

    "I use Chrome and until something better hits the market"

    - You haven't used IE and yet think that Chrome is better. Assumptions are always inaccurate.

    Chrome is not even close to IE quality, and on top of that IE provides more security and privacy.
    • @Owl:Net Whaaaaat?

      "You haven't used IE and yet think that Chrome is better. Assumptions are always inaccurate."

      Do you really think that I haven't used IE? Did you even read this post?
      • Aren't you familiar with Owl?

        He's trolling you. My advice is just to ignore him.
      • I read your post in detail

        "I don't think that IE is a bad name, but I do think it was a bad product. I write 'was' in response to their alledged improvements. I don't use it enough anymore to be able to comment. I use it when I have to for SharePoint work and for internal websites that work better on IE, but other than that, it's a non-issue to me."

        - What does the above statement imply? To me it sounds like you are using some outdated version of IE.

        I use chrome and IE for testing purposes... Chrome as you claim is not better than IE....
        • IE is still the biggest hole in Windows....

          And will continue to be so until MS quits using ActiveX.
          • Retiring outdated ActiveX components

            Thankfully, Microsoft are taking steps to warn users and block the use of outdated ActiveX components. Their use in many LOB apps is an unfortunate relic of history but one that, until Microsoft adds a decent sandboxed add-in model, will remain with us for some time to come.

            Hopefully, with the new warning and blocking system, users and companies will gain a better understanding of the risks they take using old unsupported and/or problem components and start to demand that the dependent sites and apps are updated accordingly. When this happens, more users and businesses will be freed-up to upgrade from XP and IE6.
          • You're not really keeping up

            ActiveX was initially a way to run codesigned platform binaries in the browser - huge security vulnerability.

            Over the years, it has been pared down to being a way to run Flash, and a handful of other approved OCXes. It isn't a general purpose binary runner any more... really making it nothing more than an alternative to the NS plugin embed model. And even that doesn't run in Metro (other than Flash.)
          • And yet...

            ...every time I have to clean up an adware/malware infection on the Windows side, I discover that someone in the household is a regular IE user.
            John L. Ries
          • Yep, and usually did it by installing a toolbar or new cursors

            or through Java injection.... issues, but not really ActiveX ones per se. For some reason (unknown to me) IE users really like installing toolbars.
          • jessepollard: "IE is still the biggest hole in Windows...."

            That's debatable. The Java web browser ActiveX component continues to be a security problem for Windows. Unlike the Adobe Flash Player ActiveX component, which is sandboxed via Windows integrity levels, the Java web browser ActiveX component is not sandboxed.

            LOB apps continued reliance on ActiveX components makes many enterprises and SMBs vulnerable to an unpatched Internet Explorer sandbox vulnerability:


            The IE sandbox is still broken after 4 years.
            Rabid Howler Monkey
          • And to add to the Java web browser plug-in security issues

            With Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, the Java web browser thingy is a plug-in (not an ActiveX control) and still presents a juicy target to the malware miscreants, whether the security issue is failure to update Java or a zero-day in Java. Neither Chrome nor Firefox sandboxes the Java web browser plug-in on Windows nor on any other platform).

            Thus, Java, and I refer specifically to the web browser portion, is not specifically a problem with IE on Windows.
            Rabid Howler Monkey
          • what part of no-script do you not understand

            you mention sandbox and IE doesn't run within one, you seem to imply that IE is preferable to chrome and firefox by third party impugning java. really any scripting shouldn't be allowed. good twist of sophistry, but IE does run at zero ring and the others "do not". So instead of discussing the sand-boxing of java discuss the sand-boxing of the actual browser. HTML5 and many other scripting technologies attack at a higher level of elevated security in IE. get over that!
          • OK

            Both the IE and Chrome web browsers run sandboxed on Windows Vista and newer via Windows integrity levels (they both run as low integrity processes) whilst Firefox does not run sandboxed on any Windows versions. However, the Flash Player plug-in (an ActiveX control on Windows for IE) does run sandboxed with Chrome and Firefox on Windows as well as IE on Windows 8 (but, not on Windows 7 and Vista).

            *All* major web browsers allow JavaScript, by default. In addition, the NoScript add-on for Firefox does not default with the Firefox browser except on the U.S.A.F. LPS Linux LiveCD. And, last I looked, the NoScript add-on was disabled by default on LPS. Furthermore, the NoScript add-on is not available (other than an alpha version available at the NoScript web site) for Firefox for Android nor is it available for Firefox on Firefox OS.

            Get over it!
            Rabid Howler Monkey
          • Good point

            Any browser should run with only the privileges of the user who launched it (same goes with any app), even if it is an "integral part of the OS".
            John L. Ries
        • @Owl:Net

          But in the past, I used it exclusively and in the early days of Chrome. I've used every version extensively through 10, but 11 not so much. Don't read words that aren't there or add your own.
          • Own. Foot. Shot.

            You just admitted that he was right all along with saying that you do not know IE. That is, the current version.
          • Sorry Ken..

            From a technical perspective, browser is the most important software on any device or platform.... please, please familiarise with the latest of IE, Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Opera... and have a clue on how these browsers implement the best of web standards...

            IE has to deal with legacy while new players don't.... so make a balanced judgement...
          • c'mon Owl

            The guy says he's a mac person. He obviously doesn't understand technoogy. Give him a break. He just wants things to look pretty.
      • Do some research

        I stopped believing you researched this post faithfully when you claimed the name change news came from an #AskIE hashtag post on Twitter. It happened on Reddit:

        The Twitter post was just their announcement of the Reddit AMA. But I'm glad you spend an entire paragraph misinformed ("engaging with the Twitterati"...really?).

        That gives me great trust that what you then say about IE is actually informed by real journalistic research of IE. You might use it at work, but I bet that's an old version. Especially since your last paragraph could be interpreted as you thinking IE11 hasn't come out yet:

        "I do hope, for their sakes and ours, that IE 11 and newer will be better, more secure, faster, more stable, and less of a nuisance."

        But maybe that's just a grammar mistake too.
        • @SharkLaserBeam

          Uhh, really? We missed your question or didn't answer it to your satisfaction? Hit us up on Twitter at @iedevchat (btw, we do #AskIE "Tweet Chats" about once a month there)

          I know IE 11 is out. But, I can't evaluate it fully in this early stage in its life cycle. Seriously. And I use IE 11 at work. In fact smart guy, it's 11.0.9600.17126.

          Anything else?