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

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.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor
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.

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