The notion of a "browser war" sounds so last-century. It's over, Microsoft won, we've moved on to bigger and better things -- like service-oriented architectures.
There's no single culprit. I hammered out a compromise solution for my upcoming talk because neither browser was a clear winner. Each is ennobled by unique strengths and plagued with infuriating bugs. In nirvana, we'd have all of the former and none of the latter. Why can't that happen in the real world? Oh, I remember; it's because platform vendors compete on their differentiation. That's why Apple's TCP/IP is faster than Microsoft's but has a TCP sequencing bug, and Linux's TCP/IP only works with newer versions of Windows.
I'm kidding, of course. There is innovation in IP networking -- witness Apple's use, with Rendezvous, of Zeroconf (zero configuration networking) -- but IP networking is not a platform. It's commodity infrastructure.
The browser is commodity infrastructure too, but in a remarkably broken way. When I shut my eyes and pretend that doesn't matter any more, I can still read the ugly flashbacks inside my eyelids. Recently I spoke with the vendor of a web services management product. In 21st-century style, the product is a collection of services, thus affording the maximum leverage for integration. Of course, the management console for this impressive piece of work is, you guessed it, the browser. And while other service-oriented products can in theory be integrated into its console using advanced XML techniques, that's not what happens.
"The truth," said the vendor, "is that URL redirection is still the best integration strategy."
Call me a dreamer, but I think we can do better than this. Hand-waving about service-oriented architectures doesn't make the problems go away. It won't be fun, and it won't be sexy, but we're going to have to grow up and win the browser peace.
Udell is lead analyst for the InfoWorld Test Center.