On Windows Server platforms, where IE11 is still inexplicably the default experience even in the most recent 2022 editions, you can still enjoy its full functionality, until you explicitly install 'Edge for Business'. Which you should.
christ can you imagine the raw hubris in 1995 to roll this out and inexplicably make it not only uninstallable by the user, but a core and critical functionality of your entire OS such that any attempt to sidestep or evade it would be met with ruination? Its so bombastic the US Justice department hauls your pepsi sipping CEO in for a round of slouching, hand-waving antitrust litigation but somehow you manage to make it out by smirking through interviews and the grace of a nation thats just awakening to the dawn of the internet.
then fast forward 20 years later, your dumpster-fire web browser with all its lock-in and exploits still exists in the OS but the average user sees it as nothing more than a glorified blue icon to immediately download what has become your direct competitors far more competent and meaningful execution of browser software.
So you sunset the horrorshow that was IE in favour of your competitors browser engine to power your new browser but the haggard burro of a thing you call an OS is so inextricably encumbered by your blues-traveler era nineties myopia you now need a team of H1B's to start writing shims and the burger from lunch feels like its starting to come back up...
...now eight years later whatever frankenstein browser you convinced yourself was a good idea to build is still nowhere near as popular as your competitors, and thats after you added built-in gaslighting to your search engine to dissuade anyone from even searching for your competitors browser. you even came up with your own prefix to force links in your daytime infomercial of an OS to open directly in your new pet browser but people still dont want to use it. heck, you routinely reset their default browser and the only thing its managed to do is galvanize what by all indicators is a nearly white-hot detest for your pet chrome that has 45 seconds of unavoidable fullscreen lecture on first load, built in ads and tours, and a weird buy now pay later feature.
Personally... I absolutely understand exactly how they ended up in this situation. There are actually several good reasons to embed the browser into the OS, the top two easily understood ones are...
1. They've put a lot of work into the browser, and they've shared many components of it with other tooling. EX: Internet EXPLORER and EXPLORER the file system browser don't share their name by mistake. They're so similar I can load the same COM addin in both.
2. From a pure usability perspective, it makes a boat load of sense to prevent a user from accidentally uninstalling the last browser on the machine. When dealing with edge cases and possible support calls, making sure that the user has at least one application that can download files from the web is pretty damn reasonable. Safari is also not removable... for similar reasons.
Further - I think it's actually a fairly good credit to MSFT that they're bothering with shims at all, and are maintaining a good chunk of compatibility for applications that were written literally decades ago.
Both Google and Apples's approach to this would literally be: "We're so sorry, that's no longer supported and you're f*#$ed. Go upgrade, get your vendors to upgrade, or eat shit."
MSFT isn't writing shims because they still need them... they're writing shims because they have enterprise customers who want them, and they actually give a fuck about that.
There are hundreds of instruments like this in any given research institute, all because Microsoft decided unilaterally that software that ran fine 20 years ago is clearly useless and doesn't need to run anymore on modern hardware that receives security updates.
Would you expect a 20-year-old Linux to install just fine on a modern PC? I remind you that this was the era of RHEL 3! I had trouble getting RHEL 6 running in a virtual machine just recently.
Meanwhile XP will run on most modern PCs, it’s just not supported. That means no security patches.
The mistake here is not Microsoft’s.
The mistake is your organisation’s for buying a half-million-dollar device with no support plan from the vendor for its control OS.
Software using a lib I wrote in 1998 doesn't work anymore but it's because I took a bad shortcut that made DOS-era assumptions, fixing/recompiling it would be the right course of action but I haven't had the time (also not sure where all the sources are).
On a contrary note, my first USB-Wacom pads STILL work after 20 years, it's not just software but a vendor that cared about it's software long enough to make 64bit drivers that still works.
As you said, the vendor isn't interested in upgrading the software and there is where the blame is, MS tries to keep backwards compatibility but some things has had to go for performance and/or security reasons over the years and those usually broke rules (or were tied to HW, Linux has dropped 386 and 486 after all).
If this is some multi-million dollar device then maybe keeping it up to date with windows should have been part of the deal...
Did you know windows is basically known for excellent backwards compatibility? https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2000/05/24/strategy-letter-ii...
I love my customer's maintenance department, they're unusually thorough and attentive to preventative maintenance, greasing and oiling and replacing wear items, root-causing failures and keeping the machines in good working order for decades. But when you keep fixing each individual small part that breaks, eventually the market moves on and you have to throw all the replaceable parts away and start over. The process requirements haven't changed, the weldments and castings aren't broken, it's just that you can't replace a failed servo drive or Core 2 motherboard or ISA card because the supply chain gave up on them 10 years ago. There's no great advantage of Windows 10 LTSC and a 64-bit Arm controller over Windows 98 with 56002 ISA cards except that I can buy the former today and I can't buy the latter because no one makes them anymore.
There is no control OS or hardware supply chain that lasts as long as military, industrial, or scientific equipment can be made to last. Fanuc and others try with massive vertical integration and a "never deprecate anything" mantra, but they don't run their own semiconductor fabs to guarantee production of chips for stuff that doesn't keep up with the rat race.
Yes, I'll keep supporting my company's gear for as long as possible, but sometimes the answer is that I need to throw away 4 working servomotors, drives, a controller, and a PC, and invest 600 engineering hours into making this machine do the exact same thing it did last week, because that 5th drive blew the IGBT and took out the controller and no one can get a replacement. Customers don't like to issue $100k invoices when a $1k subcomponent dies...because that $1k quote was from 2008, and it's now literally priceless.
E.g.: If you make 30 different kinds of industrial machines, have one controller board as an additional product for a total of 31 SKUs.
When the controller board is too old and no longer supported, make a new SKU that is backwards compatible with the old machines.
E.g.: Some televisions allowed the entire controller board to be swapped out, upgrading the TV's OS and HDMI ports with new capabilities. The panel and the case stayed the same.
Similarly, a CNC router or whatever is "just" some analogue wires that go into a digital board. Make the digital board swappable.
A similar mistake that I see is customers that are used to "archive grade paper" asking me how long digital backup tapes last. That's the wrong question!. The important thing is to be able to copy from old tapes to new tapes with full fidelity, which digital technology enables, but analogue technology does not. You can retain data indefinitely with digital media that lasts just a few years. Instead of trying to scrounge up some old floppy or CD readers, just copy the data to BluRay, then cloud storage, and then... whatever.
Unfortunately, though, just using a CAN or Ethernet physical layer doesn't solve the problem of the https://xkcd.com/927/ standards proliferation of industrial protocols: Some customers require CIP motion over Ethernet/IP (a dog-slow Rockwell proprietary protocol), there's old MACRO fiber optic rings, Sercos III (and prior serial protocols), a dozen high-speed serial standards for communicating with absolute encoders, and, of course, good old-fashioned hardwired digital I/O - which might be either analog velocity/torque or step and direction, RS422 differential or single-ended, etc. etc. etc.
You'd hope that you could just plug something that spoke CAN or Ethernet into something else that has the same physical interface, and the two would work together. Sometimes, you get lucky and that works out. But the ever-forward march of industry leaves behind a graveyard of yesteryear's abandoned products and protocols.
The reason is most likely... because the driver relies on APIs that were insecure and removed in the XP-Vista transition!
> The vendor for the instrument has no incentive to update that software either; they'd rather you dish out another half million dollars for a new sorter.
> There are hundreds of instruments like this in any given research institute, all because Microsoft decided unilaterally that software that ran fine 20 years ago is clearly useless and doesn't need to run anymore on modern hardware that receives security updates.
So it's Microsoft's fault that the vendor won't update it's software?
Didn't this "elite institution" get a support contract for the machine?
Would they expect the driver and software to still work if it had been written for a PowerMac G5, running Mac OS X Panther?
Would a binary compiled 20 years ago even have a remote chance of running on Linux?
Yes. As long as it includes all its dependencies, it should work because the kernel never deprecates system calls.
So unless the vendor distributes the source for the driver interfacing with the machine, it shouldn't run on modern releases.
Command line Posix stuffgenerally works and Linux stuff works because Linus insists it should.
But what about the whole glibc debacle from about a decade ago? Entire distros broke compatibility.
And let's not get started with *nix GUI framewors and apps, those break compat more often than I change my socks :-)))
I see no reason why the data collection can't be managed by a highly portable console app running inside a VM or dos emulator or the legacy PC can't be kept behind a firewall that only lets data out.
Having been in this exact situation at a research institution with expensive equipment and Windows XP only software before - support.
Helpdesk and lower levels of back-end only pay a certain amount so turn over constantly, and “those PCs have had hot glue put in their ethernet jacks and USB ports and burning CDs is the only way to get data out” is a hell of a lot easier to reliably keep going than some esoteric system of VMs and firewall rules.
The people in the lab have way more tolerance for having to burn CDs than they do for firewall changes stuffing up their process and taking a while to figure out and resolve!
Only because I had the same thought and I feel like you might know more, is there an example of software that does this securely?
So it seems like to me they do care about legacy support.
Maybe you just need to pay for it
... and Linux (well, Ubuntu specifically). I'm staring down the need to upgrade from Ubuntu LTS 20.04 to Ubuntu LTS 22.04 because some software I maintain now relies on GLIBC v2.32, which is an absolute bear to back-port. The party line is "So just upgrade," but there's no guarantee my hardware is compatible with Ubuntu LTS 22.04 because the vendor doesn't support that config and I'm not really interested in dealing with all the joys of figuring out every fiddly-widget little config on a laptop to make it work myself.
Microsoft is nearly unique in caring that much about backwards compatibility. It's the value-add they bring to the market these days relative to the competition.
So it's your vendor who doesn't care about backwards compatibility - Linux does. Whatever hardware you have, once it was supported, it will stay this way until it is really ancient, and even then you will have special builds that will support it. That's the beauty of open source (or even source available) licenses. No corporate interests that would render your solution obsolete. 
 assuming your hardware doesn't need some binary blobs (khm nvidia khm) to work
(b) If Ubuntu (and I'm going to say "the Linux ecosystem in general") cared about backwards compatibility in the same sense Windows does, a minor-version bump to glibc wouldn't introduce API breakages that mean I can't build a codebase that's doing nothing new and special on my machine right now purely because a 31-subver bumped to a 32. They aren't doing anything new in the code; their JNI dependency just bumped up and so they bumped up the whole codebase's requirements.
That's fine, but it's not The Windows Way. The Linux Way doesn't think about compatibility issues like that in anything like the same way. It's a source-code-and-patch-it-yourself world. The approaches are completely alien to each other.
The reverse scenario that seems to be what you have - where you compile against a newer library version then run it on an older one - is forwards-compatibility which is a different kettle of fish. Even on Windows it's not like you can compile against the latest DirectX and run it on an older Windows?
It was actually a great feature (memory may be failing at this point), and it seemed like the filesystem viewer was IE presenting a filesystem view. If you typed an http or https URL, the window would turn into an HTML renderer window. This made it possible to build their mail and newsgroup reader apps as filesystem views. Mail was nothing but a folder full of email message files. News was, surprise, a folder full of newsgroups. Those viewers were responsible with synchronizing the folder with remote services.
I would love if Gnome would allow pluggable views in Files: a mail reader for maildir folders, a music player for folders full of audio files, and so on.
This is essentially what Gvfs is for except basically nobody uses it, at least in the ways you describe, because forcing non-FS things into the shape of a FS usually doesn't work very well. So instead Gvfs gets used for relatively simple things that naturally map onto the FS concept well, like mounting archive files, browsing FTP, etc.
>This is a very strange comment.
In around 2001 when MS was being tried for antitrust, they claimed that IE couldn't be decoupled from the OS because it would break the os. I believe that is what the OP is alluding to. I believe an unassociated professor managed to decouple it later.
The only reason we need IE shims at all is because MS botched their overall internet strategy. Had they made a truly competitive browser and supported common standards, and the user's ability to choose their browser, none of this would be needed.
And, indeed, you can't remove Windows Update. Nor (in more recent versions) the Add or Remove Features component in Control Panel— er, sorry, the Settings app. So long as you can still re-install Internet Explorer without a web browser (which I think you have always been able to, ever since the days IE came in a box), there's no reason to stop you removing it.
Microsoft did have legitimate reasons to integrate the browser engine in Windows 95, what with the whole Active Desktop, HTML Application, the-web-is-the-future schtick they were going for. But that isn't one of them.
If they didn't have the massive backwards compatibility, corporate users would essentially be free to choose a new OS platform every few years. By maintaining deep legacy software support, they make it easy for their customers to stay addicted to Windows.
MS is not doing this for your benefit, or out of some kind of dedication, it's pure capitalism.
There is tons of documented history of their anti-competitive behavior and deceptive practices. It is not very often that a CEO of a company in a market that is "working well" is called to testify in front of Congress.
That's a good thing. People wanting to pay for your stuff is a good sign that it's valuable to them, and thus worth doing.
Well, it's kind of explicable: It was at about that time Microsoft rolled out HTML Help, so they needed an HTML rendering engine on every PC to be able to read the documentation.
Using a web browser as your native app's rendering engine is what all the cool kids are doing these days, so in a way they were just 15 years ahead of the curve.
As others have said parts of explorer were using mshtml for the user interface. However it wasn't just Microsoft. Third party vendors used mshtml as a component to render their UI! You can find samples around still, e.g
Most memorably, Norton Antivirus 2003 (I think) was one such application. The entire UI was in fact written in HTML with lots of callbacks into c++ code.
So in many ways... Electron isn't all that new of an idea :)
[Edit: I'm actually thinking of the EU lawsuit that was probably broader and better managed than the US one. Memories are now vague, it took me a while to even remember US and EU had different suits, but sure th US one was a lot worse in many aspects as Microsoft was on their home turf.]
> every MS competitor just did what MS did and didn't get smacked for
If you believe this, is the fault on those who smacked MS or the regulators who didn't smack the later violations ?
Is your argument that a crime shouldn't be punished in the past if people fail to punish it later in the future ?
Not precisely, but I do believe punishing one corporation and then not punishing their competition starts to smell a lot like using the force of the law to create an unfair market disadvantage.
This was uncalled for. You could’ve just said engineers.
For those of us in an unending battle with a broken immigration system every day of our lives for over a decade, this really rubs the wrong way.
I am fairly confident that you have no idea what you are talking about.
None other than Adolf Hitler himself admired how "The American Union categorically refuses the immigration of physically unhealthy elements, and simply excludes the immigration of certain races..” .
If you are aware of how to immigration system specifically puts some people in a short line that takes 3 months to clear, and others of a specific national origin in a different line that takes decades to clear, with all other factors being exactly equal, and still believe that the system is working exactly as designed, we have a problem.
Then I guess we have a problem. The system is working exactly as it's designed. Maybe you don't like it, maybe you think it's racist or unfair or whatever, but you need to take it up with the people who designed the system. It's working just the way they want it to.
The only big problem I see here is that you seem to think that everyone (including national leaders and wealthy interests who pay them) wants the same kind of immigration system as you do.
And probably a large population of immigrants so that people don't feel so out of place.
And we can ignore that part and still call out stupidity and evil.
Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it's "broken". It's just like how you have to use 3rd-party software to file your taxes and the IRS doesn't just pre-fill forms for you like in other countries. This isn't "broken": it's like this by design, because Intuit lobbied Congress to pass a law forbidding the IRS to make things easier for taxpayers.
Anyway, if your only reason to move to America was money, then it seems silly to complain about being mistreated as an immigrant. You're getting what you signed up for: more money, and with it, more headaches. If you wanted a better lifestyle and better government, you would have picked a different country. And being solely motivated by money seems to me to be a form of evil in itself (evil as in pure selfishness, not evil as in laughing at others suffering).
Or someone not from a coastal state (or Texas).
Elsewhere on HN: Everyone should be forced to install Chrome because I can't be bothered testing against Safari and Firefox.
On non Google Android releases these can pretty easily be swapped.
Possibly on Google Android as well.
The fact that you can recompile AOSP to have a different browser is not particularly noteworthy, you could do that for any mandatory component.
It's a popup dialog.
I'm explaining that you need a WebView for basic functionality of many apps.
but a core and critical functionality of your entire OS such that any
attempt to sidestep or evade it would be met with ruination?
Yup. And I can also imagine all the reasons why you dislike (to various extents, from mild to extreme hate) that. Yet, at the time, everyone was trying to do the exact same thing: capture the desktop. The mechanisms were different, but the end-objective all the same.
There is an alternate universe where we're all running JavaStations. I kinda like this version...
Devs had to manage every incompatibility between every tag implementation in every browser, especially ways to gracefully downgrade for older and older versions of IE especially in early B2B SaaS. Ironically, these skills have turned out to be incredibly valuable now for other applications for optimizing user experiences even if they're anonymous.
It was that way for a long time that made browser makers learn the hard way why compatibility was a good thing and would not be less competitive.
Looking forward to safari is everything on iOS going away soon.
One of the marketing style slagging quote, "Internet Explorer. The most used browser to download another browser." I remember the first time a buddy said that to me, and it has aged oh so well.
To top it all off, the next generation of techies think the company that did this is one of the good ones and voluntarily use their software(VSCode?).
> daytime infomercial of an OS
I'm not sure how you managed to write this post but I'm totally on board with the linguistic energy of it
I recently had an issue with MS deleting IE and a corporate legacy app not working.
Besides, every step towards an OS being something a user doesn't own or control, either for their own good, or users who can't help themselves, is another step towards lasting demand for usable Linux. '
It's nice that Ubuntu is starting to feel like MacOSX when it started to become usable for the many and not just the few.
... have done a long time ago.
For the average Grandma who just wants to use Hotmail and Facebook, learning Edge is actually a monumental undertaking
If your average grandparent runs Windows Server, learning a new browser every now and then would be the least of their problems, IMHO.
For those with genuine use cases (I.e. ancient software that doesn't even work with the compatibility shims) I agree that there should be some way to run IE11 and older (and with only themselves to blame if they get pwned by ignoring the risks).
This attitude is responsible for more harm than any other single idea in software development.
Do not break your users.
You think you have a choice here but what really happens is Grandma stays on old software forever because the beatings have taught her to never update anything. And the really sad part is that she's right.
I don't know what value of "grandma" is subject to being averaged, but this feels needlessly hyperbolic.
The most important items are all pretty close to their old positions. Odds are she is going to Yahoo to search for Hotmail or Facebook anyway.
Grandma can get an old iPad for Hotmail and Facebook, which is far safer, far less needing of support and what most people are using for those types of things anyway.
Which is effectively what Edge does. It redirects all IE11 COM endpoints to WebView2, which is Chrome-based and should Work Just Fine for the foreseeable future.