Microsoft will stop supporting the Mac version of Internet Explorer at the end of 2005. The move follows a decision in June 2003 to end code development for the browser. At that time, Microsoft had predicted it would end support within a few years of letting the product sit idle.
Although users still can download Internet Explorer for Mac from the Microsoft site, the company has recommended that users move to other Web browsers, such as Apple's Safari.
The decision to pull the plug on Mac Internet Explorer was surprising, said Forrester Research analyst Nate Root, but not shocking.
Development for the browser had ceased at version 5, he pointed out, putting Mac IE on a kind of technological life support.
To go forward, Microsoft had to make a decision on whether to end the product altogether or invest in additional development.
"To get it up to the level of Safari would have required significant investment and development efforts from Microsoft," said Root. "They would have had to restart the whole development cycle to get it up to the level of state-of-the-art."
The decision to end Mac IE rather than put more energy into the project could be an acknowledgement, in part, about the preferences of Mac users, Root noted.
"It's safe to say that most of the kind of folks who buy Macs wouldn't relish running Internet Explorer on their machines," he noted. "So Microsoft probably didn't think that it was worth it to try to win them over."
Many Mac users prefer Safari, he said, because Apple has kept the browser updated with new features, whereas Mac IE has languished.
But Microsoft's rejection of Mac IE still is somewhat eyebrow-raising, Root believes. "Now that the browser wars have heated up again, with Firefox being the obvious catalyst to challenge Microsoft, it's a little surprising that Microsoft would choose to abandon the Mac platform rather than reinvent on it," he said.