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Paragraph Hovers, Microsoft vs. AOL, IE

May 30, 2003

Variants on Stuart Robinson’s paragraph–level link hovering, acknowledging the $750 million Microsoft/AOL settlement, finding Zeldman’s link to the TechNet article that announces the death of a stand–alone Internet Explorer.

Stuart Robinson recently showed us a use of the :hover pseudo–class on arbitrary elements to highlight all links in a given paragraph. An effective idea, I took his example and came up with a few variants.

Scanning for links is a long–established behaviour, and unfortunately Stuart’s example adds an extra step to do this effectively, for the sake of aesthetics. My approach has come from the opposite direction, allowing the user to scan without interaction, but making it easier to do so given a bit of input. Take a look. Nothing ground–breaking here, but it’s another approach to the same concept. §

And in a bit of timely news, AOL, today’s owner of Netscape, has decided to shake hands and call it a draw in their on–going suit against Microsoft. The latter has agreed to a settlement to the tune of $760 million, as well as licensing Internet Explorer to AOL for 7 years, free of charge.

So if AOL gets to continue licensing IE, in spite of just recently moving their code base to Mozilla… and if IE’s development has slowed to a halt… then…

Forget it. I have no idea what any of this is going to change, if anything at all. Let’s just wait and see. §

Note to self: read Zeldman before posting next time. Beyond covering the AOL/Microsoft settlement, he’s linked an elucidating transcript on Microsoft’s Technet from 3 weeks ago that neatly summarizes the future of Internet Explorer: “IE will continue to evolve, but there will be no future standalone installations. IE6 SP1 is the final standalone installation.” and further: “Legacy OSes have reached their zenith with the addition of IE 6 SP1. Further improvements to IE will require enhancements to the underlying OS.”

Since, last time I checked, Microsoft wasn’t developing Mac OS, there’s only one way to interpret that: Mac IE is dead, and Windows IE will stumble along patch by patch, if at all, between major Windows releases.

Awfully convenient to cough up licensing of a dead product, wouldn’t you say?

And so we’re at a stand–still. Get used to coding for IE6, because the underlying engine is going to be with us a good long while. §

Reader Comments

May 30, 04h

If the technet piece is anything to go by, then IE is no longer free. Wanna upgrade? Get the newest version of our superexpensive OS.

Dave S. says:
May 30, 04h

Or, if you don’t want to do that, why not pay for our monthly service?

I speculated here that it makes good business sense for Microsoft to drop IE in favour of MSN, and I think the release of MSN for Mac OSX might be an indicator of things to come.

May 30, 11h

Credit for lateral thinking and exploring the possibilities. But the effect (for me) is slightly negative. Having non-link text change color on hover is grating on the eyes. It forces my vision to re-focus on the same thing twice. It also confuses my instincts :) I keep wanting to click on the text when it changes color.

Links changing color on hover is a visual cue that something different will happen when you click the mouse button. It’s just a better version of how the mouse pointer changes from an arrow to a hand.

Dave S. says:
May 30, 12h

I’m not sure how useful any variation of this method will be on a real site. I think in certain instances it can offer valuable highlighting, but in others it’s just a distraction.

I’d have to use it for a while and see what I really think, but my initial reaction was that it makes more sense to keep the links strong and de-emphasize the text if this method is going to be used for link highlighting.

Seamus says:
June 01, 11h

Over at they use a hover effect on the post for a very nice effect. I came across this on Asa’s blog.

Dave S. says:
June 01, 12h

Thanks Seamus, that’s an interesting example. Ben Darlow’s site is where I first noticed that ‘hide text until mouseover’ idea happening (down in his older articles section).

Seamus says:
June 02, 01h

All this talk about showing where the links are better got me thinking about showing where the user jumped to in a page.

Dave S. says:
June 02, 06h

Great thinking Seamus. Completely unusable in Firebird for whatever reason, but very effective in Mozilla. Now we just have to wait for the world to catch up to CSS3. 10 years, let’s say? sigh.

Jano says:
January 02, 05h

Here’s a study about something like this link marking effect: