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Weblog Entry

IE Notes

June 16, 2004

On dumping Internet Explorer, how you can provide feedback to the IE team, and why IE is bad for Microsoft’s business model.

Why you should dump Internet Explorer — Nothing new here, but it’s interesting to see that web designers aren’t the only ones calling for change.

Internet Explorer Feedback — Robert Scoble says that what’s left of the IE development team is following this Wiki closely. A quick look shows that a lot of common complaints have shown up; if you have a pet issue, go add it.

How Microsoft Lost the API War — Former Microsoft employee Joel Spolsky on an issue that has way more to do with IE than first appears. A long read, but essential for anyone who has ever complained about IE’s dormancy, and it begs the question: will feedback to the IE team go anywhere?

Reader Comments

June 16, 03h

Thanks Dave,
It’s nice to have some links to some articles that discuss why Internet Explorer is bad, that I can show to my friends, rather than having to tell them everything my self. Of course, like every web developer, I knew all about the lack of standards compliance in IE, but I wasn’t so sure about the reasons for all the security holes that Daniel Miessler talks about.

I think its about time that we all start another world wide browser upgrade campaign, perhaps supported by WaSP, much like the one a few years ago:
But this time, it would be good if they didn’t include IE6 as one of the options. Also, it would be much more successful if the campaign was not only run on the internet, but advertised more through other medias such as TV, radio, newspapers and magazines, so the whole world would hear about it, rather than just people who already know about how bad IE is, or those who happen to see a small message about it on a website they visit. Sure, such a campaign would not be easy, and no doubt be quite expensive, but once IE ceases to plague the Internet, companies will be more willing to adopt standards, which anyone would agree is much more powerful than current tag-soup techniques employed by millions of websites.

David Robarts says:
June 16, 09h

Thanks for the links. I especially enjoyed “How Microsoft Lost the API War.”

June 17, 02h

For someone who is starting a Computer Science course next year at Uni and who has thus far only done web programming, “How Microsoft Lost the API War” is a great scene-setter. I’m sure it will serve me well when I take up “proper programming”, though if that article is correct perhaps XHTML, DOM, et al are the new “proper programming”. Again, I found the SimCity anecdote particularly revealing. I’ve always been loathe to hate Microsoft just because and this article showed how they did earn their position, even if they are intent to throw it away now!

Thanks for the awesome link, Dave.

Trent says:
June 17, 03h

That “How Microsoft Lost the API War” story is interesting. I found the SimCity anecdote to be shocking…but it explained a lot :)

June 17, 06h

Thanks, Dave! The API article is outstanding. I’ve spent years writing low-level code in C++. What I learned from that article sure filled in some gaps for me.

I also second a browser campaign.

-jul- says:
June 17, 12h

I can recommend all of the Joel on Software articles. Besides, Joel uses Firefox also.

matt says:
June 24, 08h

I should preface this polemic comment by stating a few things:

I love the web and what it promises.
I distrust monopolies.
I like being able to choose.

However, the repeated attacks on MSIE are starting to sound like a broken record. Everyone hates it, it has poor support for standards, it has security flaws, blah blah blah.

I’m skeptical whenever I see articles of this sort on a site like this (design based) as it’s basically preaching to the converted. Well, not me. I love IE and I’m a web developer.

(pause for gasps)

Here’s why:

It has pretty good security. Internet Explorer by default installs at the “medium” security level - this means signed ActiveX controls give the user a prompt, unsigned controls are disabled, and controls not marked as safe are not downloaded or scripted. Active Scripting is enabled, but rarely poses a problem. Nearly all anti-virus software prevents malicious active scripting and if you surf without anti-virus software you’re insane.

Internet Explorer is the most widely used browser on the planet. If I develop sites for IE then 97.4% (according to my stats for last month) of our visitors see what I want them to see. IE has pretty good support for most standards, most of my css executes as it should. There are widely documented “hacks” which I use as my standards - I use the official standards as hacks for the few visitors I get who don’t use IE. It’s easy to set up Visual Studio to author IE friendly CSS.

Developers are more aware, but what few designers realize is that market forces play a huge role in the development of standards. Sure, IE may have a different approach to the box model but maybe their approach will become the official standard, it’s already the de facto one. Remember that the .gif was proprietary to Compuserve at one point, now it’s a standard.

IE is faster than Mozilla and is installed as part of our business infrastructure (we are a large insurance company). We almost exclusively use MS software (we use SUN too) because it well written, stable, supported and productive. It all integrates fantastically. We have CISSPS working for us who insist we use MS as our browser.

One of the problems with standards is that they’re limiting. Real cross-browser sites aren’t “valid” according to some standards but whoop-de-doo, they work in the real world. If designers would stop railing against MS, and actually make cross-browser compliant sites without getting so uptight about validation, then the user experience would improve no end.

My two cents.