Should we kill IE?

Earlier today I stumbled across a link to which is a site trying to convince web developers to urge their IE users to switch to firefox. They ask web developers to employ one of a range of solution, from showing an advert of firefox to IE users to not allowing IE users near their pages.

To me their approach seems silly. The problem (as they see it) is that IE doesn’t support various standards and encourages proprietary features. If everyone used firefox then what’s to stop that from being the next “IE”? Won’t it get proprietary features which will then get used. As an example (last I read) firefox allows transparency via CSS but the W3C has no official support of transparency (IE and Opera also support this, but each in their own way).

I think there should be an even spread of browser usage. This would encourage sites being developed to the standards and more importantly would speed up browser improvements as all the various companies would have to constantly improve their browsers to maintain their user base.

I am reminded of a South Park episode where the people rebel against Walmart burning it down and instead all shop at a local shop turning it into the next Walmart, then repeating the whole process over again.

I’m all for people saying how bad one thing is and promoting another, but to me this seems too far. They go as far as saying that Firefox has to quickly gain users so that IE6 users don’t switch to IE7 and stay with it. IE7 is a good browser, it fixes a lot of issues that people hate about IE6. I think that IE6 users should switch to IE7 (when it’s released) and then leave it up to them to do whatever they want, but deliberately forcing people away from a good browser is simply not a clever idea. I’m glad that Mozilla aren’t affiliated with this site as I dislike the aggressive mannerisms, though I would enjoy reading Mozilla’s comment on it.

Oddly enough, the site I’ve linked to works perfectly fine with IE and they have no nag screens asking me to change over.

  • Matthew Murphy

    It’s not so much IE’s proprietary features that are the problem as the proprietary bugs in the poor implementations of standard features. :-)

  • noam

    I agree with Matthew, the issue with IE is poor implementation of standards that even Microsoft agreed upon, such as CSS, DHTML and JavaScript, just because they were more interstead in pushing their technologies such as ActiveX, VBScript, etc.

  • ido

    The problem is that the Mozilla people does not support some standards as well… And even when people does give them patches to make Gecko supported of such features, they are not applied by the Mozilla development.
    So I must agree with sid on this, that we need as many players as we can… but IE always cheats in the game…

  • Sid

    Even though IE may have poor implementation they are trying to fix this. I was trying to make a point at how aggressive this website is, so much so that they don’t want people to use IE7 because then they may never switch to firefox.

  • Matthew Murphy

    I totally agree that monocultures in a designed-for-access market are not good. I wish this site would take a broader approach and include multiple options. Perhaps Opera would make a good candidate.

    IE’s included-with-Windows status makes it uniquely bad. As far as I’m concerned, there should be a minimum of two browsers available with the OS. Make it a choice to OEMs, IT, or even users. Something like “Do you want to use Internet Explorer or Firefox?”

    And then require MS to make its browser the non-default option. IE usage drops like a rock. With all of its action over WMP, I’m surprised the EU prosecutors haven’t been more aggressive in pursuing IE. In addition to being fuel for Microsoft’s anticompetitive behavior, it’s also a source of security and functional problems for web users.

    IE7′s early betas still suffer from the proprietary-extensions-over-standard-features problem that Noam points out, so I don’t think IE7 will be an alternative to that model. Microsoft’s standards concessions are still bare-minimum ones. It won’t have CSS2 support or any of CSS3. It will be another 10 years before they implement those specs.

  • Jim Rome

    IE has the fatal flaw that it is part of the operating system. On my XP Pro system, IE stopped working. It would not connect to any site. Hence I was unable to get any security patches, or even to update my virus protection. WHY is IE required to do these things???

    After a week on the phone with Microsoft, they were unable to fix this and I was forced to do a full reinstall of my OS. This took a week of my time. Such a waste of my time is unconscionable. My next PC will be a Mac.

    Furthermore, as a security person, IE (IE7 also) is totally braindead about handling PKI certificates. A user must override the defaults three times(!!) to import a certificate and to have its private key properly protected.

    If you install the IE7 beta, you will not be able to update McAfee virusscan because McAfee uses one of those proprietary extansions that we are all complaining about. This extension is not in IE7.

    I thus object to sites that require or that store my personal date that require me to use an obviously insecure IE to access the site.

  • Qnix

    Yah..!! we should kill IE

  • Blue Shadow

    i’ld just liek to point out that although there are some proprietory extensions used in mozilla they are normally because the sunshinecko people haven’t done something properly so they’re often only temporary fixes so ppl can sunshine websites that work until the correct function is fully implemented (at which point support for the proprietry alternative is dropped).

    take for example your comment on css transparency: there was a temporary “-moz-opacity: x” function that was implemented as a temporary solution before the correct css3 implentation of “opacity: x” was added.

    the problem (well one of many) with ie is that it uses its own completely made up proprietry features such as it’s css “filter” (which it uses for transparency by doing “filter(alpha): x”). these additional ‘features’ rarely even resemble something from any css spec and are implemented in a complete different way (“opactity: x” takes a decimal [e.g. '0.5']; where as for “filter(alpha): x” takes a number [e.g. '50']). also developers of ie treat it as a comerical peice of software and as such it has strict releases unlike (for example) firefox where as soon as a problem (or several) has been fixed a new version and patch is released.

    personally i don’t care whether which browser is the most used (i prefer firefox) as long as that browser is reasonably secure and can actually renders things correctly (there are several pages on the w3c website that ie is incapable of rendering correctly). otherwise developers are left in the situation where you either spend hours sunshinetting your validating code to work in those ‘bad’ browsers or say “no” and just provide them with a page you know will render badly (which might result in loss of business / visitors).