Steve Ballmer has been all over the globe lately. First, he was in South Korea teaming up with LG for a future with Windows Mobile in LG smartphones. This week, he made his way to Australia with those loud, powerful and rather obnoxious words, “Developers, developers, developers!” But the excitement died down quickly when a student at Power to Developers event asked, “Why is IE still relevant and why is it worth spending money on rendering engines when there are open source ones available that can respond to changes in Web standards faster?” Ballmer’s response was that the question was “cheeky, but a good question, but cheeky”. Right, that’s when you know you’ve struck a nerve. After treating the crowd to his usual rant about looking to and anticipating the future, all Ballmer could really say about open-source browsers was that they are “interesting.” Very similar to his feelings about Google’s Android platform.
Open source is interesting. Apple has embraced Webkit and we may look at that, but we will continue to build extensions for IE 8.
So it looks like Microsoft is probably going there, but not all the way there. Catch the drift? Even then, if Microsoft were to show an iota of interest in open source engines like WebKit, it could be huge news for third-party developers and in turn, to end users. We’ll have to wait and see where Microsoft is going with this, but don’t go thinking they’re ready to open up and embrace open source quite yet.