If there was a functioning market for web browsers and operating systems, the past few weeks would have seen two announcements from Microsoft. After a firestorm of criticism from the web design community about Internet Explorer 8's misguided mode switching proposal, Redmond would have publicly backed down. Second, Microsoft …
I just want it to be an opt-in that I can ignore as I've always got install files for Firefox and Opera. The only time I would use IE is if I had to use the Windows Update site and that's just because the bastards at MS deliberately borked the site for anything but IE.
Microsoft's Difficult Position
I agree that Microsoft need to get IE up to form, but they can't do it over night.
IE is still by far the dominant browser on the internet, and a LOT of websites are built specifically to work on it. With this in mind, Microsoft need to think about their user base and the websites those users access.
If they were to change IE over night to be standards compliant, a lot of websites around the world would cease to work properly, and people would actually demand to have the old IE back because websites actually worked on it.
No matter what we developers demand, we have to think about the end of our process, the users. Microsoft are slowly but surely trying to bring IE into touch. They have a very large hole they need to dig out of, and it is just going to take time and compromises.
Pie chart of web design
Every potential web designer should know about Beccy's pie chart:
I design for 2 CMS systems and templated HTML pages and the amount of times where things are working fine on Firefox, Safari, Opera, Lynx then we look at IE (which is what the manamgent run *SIGH*) and have to redo things due to broken box models, incomplee or wrong implementations, etc - I can only whole heartedly echo the sentiments expressed.
Where's the damage?
Microsoft make no money out of IE, so how are they abusing their Windows monopoly?
I agree that IE's "widespread non-compliance" is pretty irritating for web developers, but as far as I'm aware there is no *law* against just being irritating and I personally wouldn't want there to be one.
Sounds well thought out to me.
Lets hope the EU will listen, and act.
Here is the damage
Microsoft IE can _only_ run on Windows Operating System or using a complete hack like Wine on x86 (not on PPC for example) or running MS Virtual PC on PPC.
MS wants to make sure everyone needs running IE at some point even OS X only web design shops.
MS is making lots of money from IE by giving it free with the OS and forcing OS upgrades to people who may need latest IE.
Other browsers (Firefox, Opera, Safari) support one thing very exclusively: Published web standards. Making your site or even releasing it without any testing is fairly easy. Stick with standards. I didn't care to test any sites I designed on anything but IE, just knowing they are standards compliant was enough. To run IE on PPC, I had to purchase MS Virtual PC along with Windows to a Quad G5 Mac. It sounds comical yes? That is what happens if your non standard browser dominates the scene.
RE: Where's the damage?
They make no money out of IE but they do make money out of Live Search. Opera and Firefox using Yahoo or Google as the default search engine costs them revenue, so it is in their interest to have an "IE compatible only" internet.
Firefox 3 beta 3
Don't pass acid 3
should fix their own crap before criticizing others...
Re: Difficult position
"If they were to change IE over night to be standards compliant, a lot of websites around the world would cease to work properly, and people would actually demand to have the old IE back because websites actually worked on it."
So? Who said it had to be overnight?
Build Internet Explorer 8 from the ground up to be standards compliant. Release it to beta testing to the world as early as possible. Get feedback, improve the product.
Web developers then have IE from early beta to tweak their pages to work properly. Because if they're "optimised for IE" or, worse, only work in IE, they're not standards compliant web pages.
Oh, and for the love of Raptor Jesus, please disconnect IE from the Windows OS core. That way, when nasty web pages (and there will always be some) do nasty things to the browser, the damage they can do the the OS underneath it is limited.
Get your browser tested for damage.
For all you Acid heads out there ..... http://acid3.acidtests.org/.
Mozilla Firefox 3 Beta 3 ...... 58/100
Internet Explorer ...........12/100
"Microsoft make no money out of IE,..." If it didn't make them money, it wouldn't be there, Ken........ but it appears to be a very incestuous affair.
You'll find it in the dictionary.
For all those idiots who have taken advantage of a broken browser, and ignored the standards, well, tough. Fix the bloody sites and don't whine to people who actually know how (and care) to do a job properly.
Good luck to Opera's bid.
In many products on this planet we have regulations prohibiting the use of the product category name if the product does not comply with the defined rules of the category. For example champagne, cognac, armagnac etc. How about having this applied to the product type "web browser"? Iow products not being compatible with browser standards could not be called web browsers.
IE deserves to sink
@ Stephen Melrose: Microsoft *is* is a difficult position, but it is one wholly of their own making. More to the point, they are only having to recognise it as a difficult position because a significant proportion of the web-using public are finally aware of standards compliance and the benefits that it brings. Conversely, and at the same time, they have become aware of the problems that Microsoft's non-standards compliance brings, hence the rise of Firefox. Were it not for this growing segment of web users, do you really think that MS would give 2 figs? They do not deserve sympathy.
@ Ken Hagan: I can't tell whether you are stupefyingly naïve or just colossally disingenuous. To suggest that MS "makes no money out of IE" and should somehow be allowed to carry on their merry way is a joke, and not a very funny one. A significant proportion of their product line (and therefore their revenue) is based directly on the performance (or lack thereof) of IE. A significant number of often deeply entrenched websites are built around IE. MS likes this situation just fine, thanks very much
The argument that IE somehow deserves special consideration because to make it standards compliant would "break the web" is a non-sense. The web isn't broken; only Microsoft's cynically shabby implementation of the web is broken.
Car manufacturers don't get to put cars on the road without adhering to published standards (national and international). Car owners don't get to keep cars on the road without adhering to published standards (MOT).
MS *should* be forced into standards compliance - TRUE standards compliance - and when the thousands of websites foolishly built only for IE compatibility start to fall over, MS should take the heat for it. Maybe then people will start to see the massive shit sandwich that MS has been feeding them for the last 10 years.
I think it's entirely fair and reasonable for Microsoft to stop selling XP whenever they want. And, then or thereabouts, to halt all support for it.
But of course, at that point they should also turn off any and all "activation" measures - so that anyone with this (in MS' view) undesirable, uncompetitive OS can install it on any machine at any time as often as they like.
"..."Microsoft make no money out of IE,..." If it didn't make them money, it wouldn't be there, Ken........ but it appears to be a very incestuous affair"
Indeed. And, of course, if you consistently break standards and get it to the point where all developers end up having to build their webpages for your proprietory code to the extent that no other browsers will any longer work with the vast majority of websites so that, eventually, all the other browser manufacturers just give up, well, then, of course, you can stop bundling it with your OS and start charging extra for it!
@Get your browser tested for damage.
FF3b3 - agreed
IE7 - agreed. *And* it wants to run MSXML 3.0 SP9 as an ActiveX control (which makes bugger all difference to the rendering or the score)
FF2.0.12 - 50/100
Opera 9.25 - 46/100.
So I agree with the Anonymous Coward too.
Why can't the rendering engine(s) be patched like other parts of the browser (e.g., security holes)? I.E., back-port standards compliance via a hotfix. Given sufficient warning to un-break their websites, I think developers would welcome such a move...
"I agree that Microsoft need to get IE up to form, but they can't do it over night."
Actually, they pretty much can. They already have standards compliant modes, they just don't turn them on by default. A simple change to the parser logic to change that, and then they just send it out via Windows Update as a critical security fix*. Viola! Fixed (mostly) over night.
*Yes, that's an abuse of WU, but so was WGA.
And if any crap non-standard web developers complain, MS can even set up a standard e-mail reply. It need only contain the following text:
Re What would be on your list?
Microsoft put themselves in this hole on purpose, and they pulled others into it with them. They ignored complaints from those who understood what they were doing. Microsoft made money from this (and still do...).
So force Microsoft to help pay for fixing the web. Say 50% of the cost of making sites compliant, based on lines of HTML code modified per hour and a standard developer rate.. Yeah it's a lot of money. No I have no sympathy for them. They have the money, and they caused the problem.
It might even bring a boom to website developers... :-) Web 3.0* anyone
* yeah, I want a trademark on this :-D
Easier to herd cats than force Microsoft
I am happy for Microsoft to discontinue XP when they choose. They can make Internet Explorer as non-compliant as they like. If supporting IE is a problem for web designers, then they do not have to support it. The only way users will learn that IE is defective is if web pages render badly in IE.
I object to being forced to pay for MS software with a new PC. Distributors could put a free version of deactivated MS software on their computers. I could wipe it out and install something that works. Lock-in victims could pay MS to activate the software.
Trying to force MS to do something useful is a complete waste of time. Just fine them for each copy activated pre-installed software.
What's on my list
- support HTML 4.01, XHTML 1.0 and CSS 2.1 fully without bugs (fix the box model, etc); don't bother about more recent versions of (X)HTML and CSS before those work completely
- support the application/xml+html MIME type for XHTML documents, including XML namespaces
Then when this is all working, include SVG and MathML as standalone documents or through XML namespaces in XHTML documents.
The most important thing, and this goes for all browsers is to fully support a given version of the specs. It doesn't matter which version (well, a reasonnably recent one would be nice) but support it completely. At the moment, every single browser supports part of CSS 2.1, bits of CSS 3 but none of them completely which makes developing web content a complete minefield. Maybe the W3C should look at the Java Community Process and J2EE and come up with a Browser Compatibility Kit. Any browser that fails the kit's test results for a given version version of HTML, CSS or any other W3C technology would not be allowed to claim they are compliant with that version.
"The DAMAGE ... is when your mom/friend/general-helpless-on-a-pc-user goes on the web using microshits latest ball of turd and gets infested because they(MS) can't possibly secure what they don't understand and another friggin zombie pc is born."
Indeed, but zombie PCs make no money for Microsoft, so you can't haul them through court on anti-trust law. You *might* be able to haul your mom/friend/etc through court for being reckless-in-charge-of-a-PC, but I don't think they've passed that law, yet.
Another respondent suggests "They make no money out of IE but they do make money out of Live Search."
So if I understand you, MS are accused of bundling IE through their Windows monopoly to create customers for their adware business. That *might* be illegal, except that as far as I can see it has been a dismal failure and in any case it revolves around user-awareness, not MS-compulsion. If you recall, the court remedy for one of Win95's anti-trust breaches was to force MS to include links on the desktop to a couple of other options. IE7 puts up has the "change your default search provider" as the first page you see after installation, so they've probably *already* done as much as a court would ask them to.
Sorry, folks, you still haven't made a case that I wouldn't laugh out of court.
Opera and Acid 3
I think it's more fair to compare Opera 9.5 beta with Firefox 3.
Opera scores 64/100, which as far as I know is the best of the bunch. I look forward to seeing the figures for the final versions of both these browsers.
"I agree that Microsoft need to get IE up to form, but they can't do it over night."
If with "over night" (or overnight) you mean "in the next version of IE", of course they can. Make it fully compliant with standards, and there won't be much of a problem.
If your site now works with IE and with other browsers, it will work with IE(8) because it is "an other browser".
@Here is the Damage
"Microsoft IE can _only_ run on Windows Operating System"
Maybe I was dreaming at the time, but I dimly recall seeing a Solaris install package for IE many years ago.
Will you people STOP repeating that Microsoft SELLS XP. They DONT. They sell LICENSES to USE it, which they can revoke as they please. Once licenses are revoked, the vendor is free to disable any activation mechanism which the software depended on.
They will cease activation of XP when it suits them, even though Vista won't run properly on decent spec hardware like my girlfriends new laptop - Its slower that I remember Win98 even having been...
"The only way users will learn that IE is defective is if web pages render badly in IE."
The problem with that argument is that 99.99% of users are blissfully unaware of what standards are, how web pages "work" and who the W3C is. All they'll see is a b0rken website and they'll be yelling "fix that site so I can see it on my interweb thingy!" If you come back to them with hard-to-understand gobbledeygook like "try installing a standards-compliant browser to see the difference", they'll give you that deer-in-the headlamps look because they don't understand what "install", "standards-compliant" or "browser" mean.
PH because the average Internet user has about the same smarts as her.
I'm bored of all the cringing...
... by everyone non microsoft. Netscape died becuse it got old and bloated. And if I use IE and everything renders properly, why should I even care?
Analysis: Wherefore art thou so buggy, MSIE?
Reasons pour le bouggienesse from reading the entrails:
1. Business model: establish monopoly via proprietary software in order to lock in and coerce customers to continue using MS software.
2. Corporate culture: internally, MS has no dedication to standards of any sort so no matter what their stated intentions. Even if the intentions are genuine at the smoke and mirrors level (i.e. Ballmer, spin doctors, etc), the working level grunts don't pay much attention.
3. Lack of expertise and experience: too much turnover in the grunts writing the code. Why? I don't know. Perhaps someone who's worked at MS can tell us. Some might call this "sheer incompetence". Perhaps the main reason is that IE 7 was left more or less untouched for so long that most of the programmers who understood it have long since moved on to greener pastures so IE code is written by greenhorn rookies with little experience.
4. Reuse of old code with old bugs unfixed: IE's original base was the long-gone Mosaic. I'll bet a jelly donut that the guts of IE8 still includes some of that code. Cue the fairly recently discovered bug in WMF rendering, a bug that turned out to have existed from Windows 3.1 on, iirc. It's quite clear that MS hangs on to elderly, bug ridden code.
5. Enforcing the MS monopoly: Andrew Carnegie, the great Scottish-American steel magnate, had the nasty practice of driving his competitors out of business by selling steel railway rails below his cost of production. Since his enterprise was large and extensive, he could target one hapless bastard after another for destruction simply by dicking them over in their more localized market.
In a way, the various types of software comprising a modern desktop computer (OS, wp, spreadsheet, db, media player, web browser, email client, etc) are analogous to these local markets. MS uses the profits from Windows and Office to subsidize IE in the same way, though bundling IE with Windows is a tactic Andrew Canegie had no equivalent to.
I should add that American anti-trust law specifically forbids Carnegie-like price undercutting…except in software!
6. Failing to charge a reasonable price for IE: The MS beancounters undoubtedly view IE as nothing but a cost center, since the profits from it are diffused across that vague entity "monopoly". Hence, IE development is chronically strapped for money, to the point that software quality suffers. If MS started charging realistic prices for Outlook Express, IE, and various other "free" parts of the Windows package, the quality of IE would go up—unless, of course, there was a mass flight to other browsers, cutting off the income stream.
It appears to me that in the face of this kind of institutional inertia on the part of MS, the only way to break the logjam would be for some major web destination to announce it's going to begin adhering to standards strictly.
Suppose Ebay, Amazon, Yahoo, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, or Google did this, and emblazoned their pages with "works okay in standards compliant browsers, here's Ballmer's phone number to register your complaints".
If that happened, you'd see a sudden upturn in use of non-MS browsers. I speculate that if this happened, MS would be so far behind the 8-ball they would be unable to upgrade IE before its market share collapsed. But this isn't going to happen unless there's some kind of plot to torpedo MS amidships.
This explanation is so wordy only an extraterrestrial could love it.
A Walk on the Wild Side of the Internet and ITs Systems for Operations
Microsoft aren't worried or even interested in what is run on the Windows and Vista OS just so long as the Virtual Machine, which is recording and sharing your thoughts and hopes and aspirations and inspirations, keeps on allowing them a sneaky back door, trojan look to keep Uncle Sam one step ahead of everyone else.
As a stealthy industrial espionage tool it works very well and who would have thought it would have been so capable and yet so badly abused and poorly used ....for all of its years.
Ooops ...there's that nightmare whistleblower scenario again which they constantly BetaTest against.
WebKit & Acid3
WebKit/Safari nightly build scores 82/100 on Acid3 - better than any of the other browsers.
This is more significant than Opera in many ways as WebKit has a larger market share by most counts...
Microsoft cannot make IE standards compliant overnight
Stop saying they can. Looking at the web stats for my site, I'm still looking at 20-odd% of users using IE6. I even have 1% using IE5! If they release an all singing, all dancing IE8 that does everything in a standards compliant mode, it'll be years before everyone is using it, if at all. It's not like Firefox, people aren't used to updating it. They use it because it's there.
Which is why this MS standards meta tag thing makes perfect sense. If they do nothing like it, then I have a choice of having my site broken in IE8, or broken in IE6/7. Of course, I can do some conditional comments to tweak my CSS, but if I'm doing that, why not just use the meta tag thing?
Everyone moaning about this meta tag doesn't live in the real world. I don't like IE-specific sites any more than you do, but they exist. Radically changing IE in IE8 would result in a lot of annoyed (and borderline clueless) amateur web people, and could very easily impede upgrades, as IT admins find out their intranet doesn't work any more, etc etc.
"zombie PCs make no money for Microsoft"
Zombie PC's are slow, and slow network access for machines on the same connection. People replace the entire machine instead of the software, so they buy another Microsoft license.
One ISP tried phoning customers with zombies and recommending security programs and patches. The majority of the customers considered the calls useful. They did loose a few customers, but sending bandwidth hogs to their competitors is a good move for budget ISPs. In a twisted way, it makes some sense to give legal hassle to owners of zombies.
Getting old sites to work in IE
Surely that's simple enough, MS just need to add a function into IE to allow the user to specify a different user agent, and set it to Opera / Firefox! Then any IE specific code in a webpage won't be run, and history will come full circle! :-)
"Will you people STOP repeating that Microsoft SELLS XP. They DONT. They sell LICENSES to USE it, which they can revoke as they please. Once licenses are revoked, the vendor is free to disable any activation mechanism which the software depended on."
However, the terms of the contract under which the license has been sold are not disclosed until *after* the transaction has been consummated, and Microsoft has received payment either from the consumer, or from the PC's OEM. Under standard contract law, therefor, no "meeting of the minds" has taken place, and therefor no legal contract for licensing exists. Ergo, Microsoft is liable to support the product as if it had been sold outright, not licensed for an indefinite term at the whim of Microsoft.
I am not a lawyer, but I'll bet dollars to donuts that the argument I have written above *will* be used by thousands of lawyers when (or if) Microsoft decides to disable the XP activation mechanism.
re: Pie chart of web design
Why do developers always complain they do all work and get it looking good - then have to redo it to make it work on IE. Since the other browsers have far more flexibility and tricks available then surely it is much easier to develop for IE and use that flexibility to make the other browsers show the same. I suppose the real answer to this is it would only take you half the time so only half the pay
Remove ActiveX from Internet Explorer. The fact is that ActiveX is one of the biggest security holes in Windows even today.
@ WebKit & Acid3
Just by way of comparison, Safari 3.04 struggles to reach 39 with a couple of big old hangs along the way, all the while looking like a POS. As for Safari on iPhone/iPod touch v1.1.3, that craps out at 39 too, spewing errors around the 7 mark, but doesn't look as bad while it's doing it
"And if I use IE and everything renders properly, why should I even care?"
Where does that happen? Bizzaro world?
IE is the biggest security issue on the net bar non.
I won't even support widows boxes running IE.
why not just make IE8 support being installed along side earlier versions? in otherwords nail *all* of it into one directory, even if this means having multiple versions of some files.
you can now install more than one instance of it if you want, it will not break anything, since IE6/7 can still be used, so all those company sites are fine.
also make it so you can add add-ins like firefox, make it good and usable and it will be used.
Just make standards the default already.
Standards compliance should be the default if the markup is valid. I've already signalled my intent to use "standards mode" by taking the time to write HTML and CSS which validates against those standards. That's my "opt-in" right there.
If they're so worried about "breaking the web", the browser can always fall back to bonehead mode if it encounters poorly-formed markup. It already knows how to detect tag soup, because it has to make a best-guess attempt at correcting it in order to render *anything* at all.
@Laxman: "And if I use IE and everything renders properly, why should I even care?"
That's an end-user issue. This isn't about end users, but you're right: you shouldn't *have* to care. You should be able to choose *whatever* browser you want and have the web "just work", because that's what the web is supposed to do.
But the poor bastard making the pages you visit shouldn't have to beat their head off a wall for a week to make that happen when they adhere to published, established standards. Yet, that's exactly what happens.
I call bullshit.
"After a firestorm of criticism from the web design community about Internet Explorer 8's misguided mode switching proposal, Redmond would have publicly backed down."
Bullshit. The so called firestorm is evenly split between those who want the mode switch and those who don't. They are most certainly considering their customers needs by not breaking the Internet for the majority of its users.
"Second, Microsoft would have bowed to 90,000 users demanding that Windows XP continue to be sold."
90,000 users is a drop in the bucket for Microsoft. Why should they listen to a small (but vocal) minority? -- Note that I still use XP and don't want to switch to Vista either, but I'm not whining about Microsoft ignoring me.
So, yes, I applaud Microsoft for deciding not to break the Internet. Mr. Wium Lie is not a neutral bystander here kids. If Microsoft is forced to only distribute a standards compliant browser, the results will be a flood of users downloading Firefox and Opera because their favorite sites no longer work. What, you think web developers are going to rebuild their sites to work in IE8 and then break IE7? Yeah... Right...
On W3C complience
A smart web developer starts by writing their sites to be web compliant, then adding fixes as needed for IE6 and 7. If you do this, then MS could turn around and make IE8 fully compliant, and nobody should be able to see any difference in your web site.
You gotta be kidding.
MS doesn't make money off IE? Of course it does, being an integrated feature (the most prominent one some would argue) of their operating system.
Suppose for example we had two alternative OS sold on a Dell system. OS #1 had IE and OE exact clones running on 'nix. OS #2 had some other browser and email client that Joe Sixpack wasn't familiar with yet running on Windows. Joe goes to the store and plays with both for a moment and sees Vista (or past Windows, take your pick) environment he isn't familiiar with, brower and email he isn't either, then shuffles over to the 'nix box with the familiar browser and email client. He may not prefer the 'nix box but there's a good chance of it.
Similarly it is so with discouraging use of another browser, MS doesn't want anyone using anything but IE to keep the windows fondness and as such, gives it away for free to deprofitize competition.
What is windows really if not a lot of applications piled on an interface that has changed significantly recently with Vista? The average buyer is not enthralled by readyboost or the other marketing fluff, nor impressed with supposed security enhancements that just remind them they had a lemon for years (until, supposedly (like they heard as a marketing pitch for WinXP also) thanks to MS who now say you get what you paid for last time if you buy their next great OS.
@ Laxman, you should care even if you use IE now and it works ok because it is inevitable that internet capable devices that do not run Windows or IE be in your future unless you're old enough you'll kick the bucket soon. These devices will depend on standards compliance on the 'net. You should also care because it's the whole point of standards. If MS felt they had a better way they are always welcome to voice their opinion during the formation of standards and let that opinion make a change in what standard emerges if the idea has merit.
Just ignore IE in private websites
One way to make more people aware of IE's horrible standards support is simply to design non-commercial sites only with standards in mind and display a prominent message on the site pointing IE users to more standard compliant browsers. Blogs for example could be a good way to do this. Even news sites like The Register could do this if the owners find this to be an annoyance.
@Ken: Where the real - economic - damage is.
"Microsoft make no money out of IE, so how are they abusing their Windows monopoly?"
Giving away IE gives IIS an anti-competitive advantage in the server market, that's how. It's a complex economic argument, but it's well explained by Joel on Software:
and there are some very perceptive comments on Schneier's blog at:
And yeh. The whole zombie thing is kind of relevant: the associated spam and crime are real economic damage too, it's not just a mere inconvenience that granny's pc is always running slow, it's a real social harm.
The real damage is how badly behind IE is
How long did it take MS to add tabbed browsing to IE, ffs?
The real damage to the end user is that MS simply stopped developing IE (to all intents-and-purposes) once it had won the browser war with Netscape, and it fell woefully behind in its capabilities compared to those browsers coming from developers that actually give a fuck.
IE is STILL woefully behind in its capabilities, yet people are forced to use it to access many, many websites. What damage? If you enjoy using a stone age browser, then by all means ignore the complete lack of progress that MS has made with IE, but don't expect others to do so too.
amanfromMars making complete sense?!?
I am suprised to see amanfromMars making complete sense today...
Prehaps the AI is getting better...
The warning triangle since if AI is getting better it really is time to run for the hills...
re: Just ignore IE in private websites
99% of the public have no knowledge or desire to know about web standards – so all that will do is make the public think you are a) incompetent and b) arrogant and thus unlikely to listen to you