Internet Explorer, what's in a name?

Microsoft's Internet Explorer developers mulled changing the name of Internet Explorer to something else? Sure, that would work. Not.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

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.

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.


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