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Microsoft mulls Internet Explorer name change

What do you do with a dog of a product? You rename the dog. Microsoft is considering rebranding its Internet Explorer (IE) browser to give it a new lease of life.

Microsoft’s browser is struggling. Once undisputed market leader and the subject of a major bundling lawsuit, it is now a distant second to Google’s Chrome in most markets. Its functionality has improved, but not its reputation.

An interesting little exchange took place on social chat site Reddit earlier this week between IE project manager Jonathan Sampson and a few other Microserfs, and various interested random people.

“Have you ever consider rebranding and changing the name of Internet Explorer?” asked ‘asianorange’.

“I've always had this question in mind too,” said ‘codecracker25’. “The IE name has been so widely denigrated that even if they make it the best browser in the market, I think its reputation will affect the distribution and adoption of the browser very adversely.”

Sampson was quite open in his reply. “It's been suggested internally. I remember a particularly long email thread where numerous people were passionately debating it. Plenty of ideas get kicked around about how we can separate ourselves from negative perceptions that no longer reflect our product today.”

“Why did you decide to stick with the same name then?” asked codecracker25.

“The discussion I recall seeing was a very recent one (just a few weeks ago). Who knows what the future holds?”

There followed a string of amusing suggestions for name changes:

“I'm putting money down you are going to make a new browser called One”

“What about Bong? It could work. Bing and Bong. Sounds good.”

“I'm more for Windows Internet Über Browser 2014 SP1 Ex+ (but it seems like I'm not responsible for IE marketing)”

“Suggested improvement: call it ‘The Internet’. Way more confusing when spoken:

  • ‘10% of Internet users are using The Internet to browse the Internet.’
  • ‘Downloading and installing The Internet is as easy as ... ‘
  • ‘The Internet has stopped working due to an unexpected error.’
  • ‘Nobody uses The Internet, it isn't safe.’
  • ‘Help, I accidentally deleted The Internet.’

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.