Addressing a developer conference in Sydney Australia, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the idea of using WebKit as the rendering engine within its web browser was “interesting” and added “we may look at that.” “There will still be a lot of proprietary innovation in the browser itself so we may need to have a rendering service,” Ballmer said, adding, “Open source is interesting. Apple has embraced Webkit and we may look at that, but we will continue to build extensions for IE 8.”
Ballmer also admitted the delays in moving from IE 6 to IE 7 during the development of Vista under the Longhorn project. “But I don’t what to go there,” he said.
WebKit has subsequently been chosen by a number of developers to serve as the foundation for their web browsers and other web related tools. That includes Nokia’s mobile browser, Google’s new Chrome, and of course the mobile Safari browser used by Apple’s iPhone.
It would also give Microsoft a functional mobile browser to replace Windows Mobile’s Pocket IE, a poorly regarded and nearly unusable product based on a very old version of Microsoft’s proprietary web engine.