A Colorful History

By Matt Hines  |  Posted 2006-02-23 Print this article Print

Microsoft executives confirmed that they are fans of what Maxthon has done with their companys technology. Gary Schare, director of Internet Explorer product management at Microsoft, labeled the browser as one of his firms favorite examples of how IEs code can be used to create new applications.

"Internet Explorer offers developers and IT administrators an advanced platform for Web and line-of-business applications, and one of the benefits of IE is that the browser continues to encourage a vibrant ecosystem of thousands of add-ons," said Schare. "Maxthon has been one of the more popular add-ons, and we are really happy with the innovations theyve brought to the IE community."

The browser has a colorful history wrapped up in the political turmoil that continues to haunt China, the worlds largest nation.
First known as MyIE and built as a customized version of the Microsoft browser, it was launched publicly in 2000 by a developer known only as "Schanyou" and began to build a following in the region.

However, at the same time his browser was drawing its first fans throughout Chinese academic and technology circles, Schanyou became an outspoken advocate of Falun Gong, a religion outlawed by the government in socialist mainland China, and began posting to multiple Web sites in defense of the religion before disappearing completely.

With Schanyou gone, the browser continued to draw users but saw little new development until being taken over by Jeff Chen, a student at the Beijing Institute of Technology who is now the chief executive of Maxthon. Chen completely rebuilt the browser in 2003, renamed it to Maxthon, and began cultivating the softwares development community.

Next month, the company will launch Maxthon 2.0, which will include product-wide updates including a new user interface, and Jacobsson said the firm may launch a United States-based business before the end of the year. The firm is also in talks with several large corporations that may build customized versions of the browser for internal use, he said.

While few Americans, even industry analysts, appear to have familiarity with the product seemingly based on its Chinese roots, Jacobsson believes that Maxthon could have a competitive stake in the U.S. browser market before the end of 2007.

"Its been proven that people want alternatives to Explorer, but many people, especially businesses, also dont want to risk everything by moving to a completely unknown architecture," he said. "With what we have today, you can utilize some of Microsofts technology while using something that is different from Explorer in most other ways; we think that could be a big selling point."

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