Modern Software Experience

2009-09-25

Internet Explorer

poor product

Internet Explorer is a poor product. Microsoft markets it as a web browser, but that is a moniker it does not deserve. Internet Explorer was not designed for today’s web.
Internet Explorer is designed for corporate Intranets that still use ActiveX pages. Internet Explorer should be called Intranet Explorer.

Even Internet Explorer version 8, released on 2009 Mar 19, still completely lacks support for XHTML, a major web standard that web browsers have been supporting for a decade already.

Internet Explorer’s support for Portable Network Graphics (PNG) is still limited, and it still does not support Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) at all. Its incomplete support for CSS and the upcoming (X)HTML5 are problematic.

Not only does Internet Explorer 8 completely lack support for some major web standards and does it only partially supporting other major web standards, it suffers from many more serious issues, including deliberately defaulting to the even lower quality rendering of Internet Explorer 7 unless the page contains a meta-tag telling IE8 to behave as IE8.

An application that does not render web pages isn’t a web browser.

web browser

A web page is a document constructed to web standards. An application that renders these web pages is known as a web browser. An application that does not render web pages isn’t a web browser.

Internet Explorer is incapable of rendering many web pages that web browsers render without a hitch. It also makes an utter mess of many other pages. The reason for its failure to render perfectly fine web pages is well understood; Internet Explorer does not support the relevant web standards.
Microsoft markets Internet Explorer as a web browser, but it is not.

Internet Explorer sites

There are two major reasons why many Internet Explorer users rarely notice what a mess Internet Explorer makes of web pages. One chuckleworthy reason that should not be overlooked is that many Internet Explorer users often do not know how a web page is supposed to look, because they never used a web browser to view the page. However, the major reason is that many web developers spend an inordinate amount of time and energy to make their pages look as good in Internet Explorer as they look in web browsers; they go out of their way to build Internet Explorer sites instead of web sites.

Internet Explorer is a browser, but it is not a web browser. Internet Explorer does not support the web.

browser

Internet Explorer is a browser, but it is not a web browser. Internet Explorer does not support the web.

Microsoft presents Internet Explorer as a web browser, but even the very latest version of Internet Explorer still lacks support for major web standards that web browsers have been supporting for years.

Web browsers support the web. The deception that Internet Explorer is a web browser is holding it back.

Web browsers support the web. The deception that Internet Explorer is a web browser is holding it back.

Many of today’s web designers spend ten percent of their time creating a design for web browsers and then spend the remaining ninety percent of their time desperately trying to get that design to work in Internet Explorer as well, despite it defects and limitations. The resulting web sites are ten times as expensive as they need to be, and you do not even get a thank you from Microsoft in return.

Trying to support Internet Explorer in addition to web browsers is the most misguided collective development effort in the history of the web.

Trying to support Internet Explorer in addition to web browsers is the most misguided collective development effort in the history of the web.

Supporting Internet Explorer is rarely cost-effective. Most web sites owners have no hope of ever recouping the added cost of supporting Internet Explorer.

any web browser

The idea that you should use a web browser to visit web sites is a very reasonable and sensible one, yet few web site owners have the guts to do what I do, and tell Internet Explorer users that they can view the site using a web browser, any web browser.

Intranet Explorer isn’t a web browser, but it can be used to download one.

Intranet Explorer isn’t a web browser, but it can be used to download one.

Internet Explorer dogma

Many web design firms still maintain that every site should support Internet Explorer as some sacred dogma. That a site should work in Internet Explorer was true back when Internet Explorer 4 was one of the leading browsers, but that time is long past.
The Internet Explorer dogma and Internet Explorer’s many shortcoming as a browser combine subvert many web developers from developing for the web into developing for Internet Explorer, reduces them to creating Internet Explorer sites instead of web sites.

That web sites should support one vendor’s poor product to be a good web site is a ridiculous notion.

There are clear web standards and plenty of good web browsers to choose from.
That web sites should support one vendor’s poor product to be a good web site is a ridiculous notion.

No web site has to support Internet Explorer to be a good web site. It is the other way round; to be a web browser, Internet Explorer has to support all web sites.

web renaissance

It is way past time for a web renaissance, for Internet Explorer developers to become web developers again; to renounce the Internet Explorer dogma, throw of the shackles of Internet Explorer limitations and focus on the web.

Web sites do not have to support dated browsers. Web browsers have to support all web sites.

Those who embrace the Internet Explorer dogma are not web developers, but Internet Explorer developers. Web developers reject the Internet Explorer dogma.

Web development is not about supporting any particular vendor’s product, but about respecting the web standards that make sure that all web browsers can show all web sites.

Web sites do not have to support dated browsers. Web browsers have to support all web sites.

update

2010-05-05 Second IE9 Platform Preview

Microsoft has given in to criticism. Intranet Explorer 8 isn't a web browser, but it can be used to download one: Internet Explorer 9 Beta, Microsoft’s first web browser in a decade!
Technically, the first Internet Explorer 9 Preview already supported XHTML, but it was a very early release with various other limitations that made it near impossible to use. It was not good enough to browse this site.
The Second Internet Explorer 9 Platform Preview is still awkward to use, but it can be used to read and navigate this site now.
Internet Explorer version 9 is Microsoft’s first web browser in a decade! Yes, it really is a web browser, it supports all major web standards. After deliberately thwarting web standards for more than a decade, Microsoft is finally supporting web standards. Internet Explorer version 9 includes support for XHTML, HTML 5, CSS 3 and SVG.

links

major web standards (incomplete)

major web browsers