Yesterday, January 5, 2020, 20 years of the original announcement of the Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 for Mac – and, to “celebrate” the date, a former Microsoft manager decided to tell backstage stories in a post on his blog and in a thread from Twitter.
Jimmy Grewal begins by remembering the moment when IE5 was announced to the world – by none other than Steve Jobs, during his opening keynote at the Macworld Expo San Francisco 2000, while presenting Mac OS X.
Obviously, what seemed there in the over-rehearsed and prepared presentation was crazy in the days leading up to the event for Grewal and his team at Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU) from Microsoft; there were about 40 people, all working in an office in San Jose (California).
They had to spend nights polishing the software and fixing bugs to make sure the demo from Jobs to Macworld (which originally would have been introduced by an executive at Microsoft itself, say) went perfectly. «We agree with the highlights that would be mentioned, but to our sadness Jobs did not mention any of them.»
This was that famous time when Microsoft, seeking to get rid of a millionaire fine for an anti-trust lawsuit brought by the United States Department of Justice, committed itself to developing software for the Mac world – including the entire Office suite and , in this case, the IE5.
For Apple, the IE5 was fundamental for that moment as it was a modern browser and able to be pre-installed by default on all Macs sold at that time. Although IE is not remembered today as a reference for following web standards, IE5 was the first browser to render HTML correctly within industry standards.
One of the curiosities brought by Grewal concerns the IE5 interface, based on the “Aqua” look of Mac OS X, which was developed in secret by Microsoft. Jobs, when he saw her, didn’t like it at all because it was a kind of proof that part of the Mac OS X project had leaked without his knowledge. Until then, the familiar interface of Mac OS X was based on Rhapsody (from NeXT).
Coincidentally, one of the features that Microsoft had implemented in IE5 was a “media bar” that made it easier, for example, to control the playback of MP3s on websites. The irony is that it used codes licensed from the SoundJam MP, which shortly afterwards was to be bought by Apple and transformed into iTunes 1.0. Jobs asked Microsoft to remove the IE5 feature, claiming it conflicted with native QuickTime functions.
IE remained the standard Mac browser until 2003, when Safari took over from Mac OS X 10.3 Panther. Interestingly, Microsoft is now very close to having a browser for macOS with the new Edge – but there is no chance that it will become the standard Mac browser again. ?