It’s not quite the same as Apple’s classic Think Different campaign, but Microsoft wants you to think differently about its venerable Internet Explorer for Windows browser.
On Wednesday, the technology giant launched Rethink IE, a new site that’s intended to show some new things that IE can help create and present. It also goes behind the scenes about how Microsoft created some of the experiences.
“What if Internet Explorer could show you a web that did things you didn’t think were possible?” it asks, offering Red Bull Rampage, Everest: Rivers of Ice, Contre Jour, Hunger Games and other experiences Microsoft has created in partnership with others over the last two years.
Roger Capriotti, the senior director marketing for IE, told VentureBeat that the campaign is designed to “get consumers and developers thinking about what is possible on the Web and with a web browser.”
Fast page loads are ‘table stakes’
But in a world where browsers are touting their fidelity to web standards, the question is what does IE have that others don’t?
It’s no longer about fast page loads, which Capriotti said “are now table stakes.” The company is promoting IE’s full-screen browsing, its multitasking capability to run Skype while browsing, and particularly its optimization for touch-based browsing on a tablet.
The Chrome browser on a Nexus tablet, Capriotti said, “is similar to the browser on a desktop,” and Safari on a tablet is not much different from Safari on other Apple devices. By contrast, he said, IE on a tablet now offers controls that are available when you need them and high-performing multitouch responses.
Brad Shimmin, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, pointed out that browser wars these days are all about winning the hearts and minds of developers, if they can be induced to prefer one browser over another. But, he added, the real advantage any browser now has – since it’s so easy for a user to switch between them, which he calls “browser speed-dating” – is “how well that browser interacts with the services from that company.”
As an example, he said he prefers the Chrome browser because of its capability to synchronize bookmarks across devices. Microsoft’s touting IE’s integration with Skype is another example. In this perspective, of course, unless Firefox can get a significant installed base for its Firefox OS and begin to offer some related services, it will be odd man out in the company of Microsoft, Google, and Apple.