back to article Microsoft's IE9: Don't believe the hype

Microsoft must be rattled by the steady decline in the market share of Internet Explorer. Worldwide it has gone from 68.5 per cent in July 2008 to 46 per cent today, according to StatCounter. Internet Explorer 9, now in release candidate phase, is Microsoft's answer. Highlights include hardware-accelerated graphics, a new fast …

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Nice, but irrelevant

All my PC's (work included) run XP and so far I have seen no reason to change.

I don't think IE9 makes that change any more likely especially when there are alternatives such as Firefox and Chrome which are as good if not better.

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WTF?

FreezeFox

People still use firefox? That's like swimming in treacle...

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Hmmm....

I still find IE clunky, disjointed and slow ( IE8). I have only done some basic web-dev work in the past and having to code specific work arounds for IE in the past ( IE7 ) just bugged me, especially when others like FF and Opera would stick to standards, standards which MS saw fit to butcher.

It always amused me, when IE6 was the defacto, that the world's most insecure browser was a requirement to be able to access the world's most sensitive data on banking sites!

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Anonymous Coward

My tuppence worth

When your browser needs hardware acceleration, you are trying to do too much inside it. It is a browser, that is all it is.

It will eventually, (if it hasn't already) become too cumbersome to use and someone will release a cut down one that flies and sell it to us again as innovation.

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IE6 and Banks

Well said on that one!

I even emailed and phoned my bank to ask how on earth they only supported IE(6) when it was demonstrably the most insecure browser on the market. I questioned how they could be "serious about security" whilst only supporting the Swiss cheese of browsers! I was left incredulous when even their IT bods didn't really know what I was talking about. It took them about 2 years to offer support to their browsers.

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Me too

First Direct still mandate using IE for Internet Banking Plus (ordinary internet banking works nicely on anything) which they defended as saying their site had been security tested etc, etc, which yes, is fine, until you factor in the actual browser itself is possibly compromised, not their site, and they don't have control of that.

Maybe someone at First Direct will even read this and get a clue.

... and then I woke up

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Anonymous Coward

@Mark

If you think that by emailling or phoning your bank you got through to a design engineer, or someone in Architecture etc, you've got another thing coming...

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Gates Halo

Not true

Display rendering is a function of the hardware and OS. Those two things should make available to any application a high performant render API. Hardware acceleration is being added to browsers because of the nature of HTML rendering. HTML rendering should be able to take advantage of hardware and OS, there shouldn't be any need for the browser app to especially handle hardware acceleration. Microsoft's approach on Windows is the right way forward. Their Direct X technologies abstract the hardware stuff. IE 9 will work fine on non hardware accelerated PCs, but render will be slow. This is not the browser's problem, it's the underlying hardware and OS capability.

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Bod

Hardware Acceleration and HTML

Well, as Jobs has been banging on about for long enough, the web (apparently) needs HTML5 and that includes for video. These features make heavy demands on the graphics architecture. Hardware accelerating it is an obvious thing to do. It's nothing specific to IE.

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WTF?

repeat after me

I don't do windows.

"It always amused me, when IE6 was the defacto, that the world's most insecure browser was a requirement to be able to access the world's most sensitive data on banking sites!"

I don't remember seeing this from bannking sites under NetBSD, FreeBSD, Linux, or MacOS. I do seem to remember a cable ISP that required IE almost 10 years ago, but that's about it.

I don't see what everybody has against IE though. http://en.wikipedia.org/XmlHttpRequest seems to indicate that microsoft invented ajax, even though portable .js libraries tend to switch to something called trident when they detect IE.

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Headmaster

Made-up words

Repeat after me:

Performant is not a real word and I will not use such non-performant words

Performant is not a real word and I will not use such non-performant words

Performant is not a real word and I will not use such non-performant words

(etc.)

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Badgers

*sigh*

I guess I must find a computer to run this on. There's bound to be some critical differences that mean it'll need testing and fixing like all the other versions of IE...

Please can we kill off IE6 now? (+IE7 while we are at it)

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Kill IE6?

Fat bloody chance....

*Grinds teeth*

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, kill it...

For me, and many other web devs, IE6 is already dead. I offer no support for it anymore, and if needs be I inform clients of this fact. I let them know that if they require support for this ancient browser then the costs will be much higher. So invariably they tend to choose versions of their sites with no IE6 support.

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"deep integration into Windows 7"

-- FACE-PALM --

Don't they learn? How many security issues in earlier incarnations of IE stem from deep integration with the OS?

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Grenade

Quite

My thoughts exactly.

The thing is, even if IE9 was the absolute bees knees, I STILL wouldn't use it. Why? Because of the very long and very tired history it has, riddled with bugs, and blindingly obvious security problems (like the "deep integration" thing).

Also, they STILL insist on pushing their non-standard stuff like ActiveX (yes, I did see it is now switched off by default, but still), and "pinning". And while we're at it, I'm sure nobody needs reminding of the carnage ActiveX has caused in the past. I seriously doubt MS will ever listen and use the same standards everyone else is, or dump this horrible Windows-specific stuff; it's just not in their nature.

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It is, inside Redmond, as it is, everwhere

Some dreary little manager from Core Operating Systems will have had a crack team of his finest circular-dependency-authors driven in, the moment he got wind of the IE team reforming. I can just imagine the scenes within that team, as this sullen, sweaty group of passive agressives arrived in their midst - with orders from on high to be nice to them.

For every enlightened manager within Microsoft, who understands that open architectures and lack of interdependencies produce faster and more aglie systems in the long run, there is still a solid core of the others - who believe passionately, in tight-integration and lock-in - and whom, these days, are filled with a sort of murderous resentment over any suggestion that Vista proved them wrong.

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Wrong

You've failed to understand the context of the integration with Windows 7. It' the user experience integration that is the point here, not security.

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Unhappy

Hah!

I've had it with the Microsoft user experience.

Do you remember the ad: Microsoft makes everything you do easier.

There are lies, damned lies, and Microsoft marketing.

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Integration not all bad

Just because it has deep integration, does not mean it is irremovable. If you don't want it, removing it from Windows updates is easy.

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Anonymous Coward

Wrong

If it is the kind of user experience integration that obfuscates where things are, moves and or hides frequently used items somwhere 6 clicks down in the ribbon intead of where they used to be accessible in one click, you can keep it, sorry.

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Gates Horns

so nothing new

We already know MS never cares about standard, so what's new? Won't touch this shit.

*My next machine will be a win7 desktop, unfortunately.*

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Coat

They care

They care very much about standards. *Their* standards.

Pretty low standards they have always been, too.

<-- Mine's the one with the penguin in its pocket.

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IE9 and standards

You're right, they don't care about standards.

http://www.engadget.com/2010/11/02/w3c-tests-html5-browser-compatibility-crowns-ie9-the-champ/

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HTML5 Test

IE9 RC scores just 116, that's bad as even Firefox 3.6 scores 139! BTW, what is CCSS3?

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Don't believe it

If you actually look through the results of html5test.com in IE9 it seems to be complete rubbish - implies that it doesn't support <input> tags for instance which is clearly wrong. And a large proportion of the other functionality tested is far from finalized (tellingly all the explanatory links go to the work in progess HTML5 "specification" and not even the Editor's draft.

Testing standards compliance against such an unfinished standards document seems largely pointless to me.

I'm no fan of IE6/7/8 (for the record my preferred browser is Chrome) but IE9 is an immeasurable improvement over IE8 - the same markup works exactly as intended across Chrome/Firefox and IE9 with no hacks or fiddles required anywhere - isn't this what people have been campaigning for? Credit where it's due and all that.

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html5test.com

html5test.com performs basic detection for new features added by HTML5; it doesn't include features already included from HTML 4.01. If you click on the various items, for example "input element types", it breaks the results down further so that you can get an idea about how they are awarded. With <input>, points are awarded for the the date type state (<input type="date">), the number type state (<input type="date">), etc. etc. but not the earlier HTML 4.01 states like <input type="text">.

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html5test.com

"html5test.com performs basic detection for new features added by HTML5." So should scores fall between 0.8025 and 1 instead of 0 and 1?

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This might seem an odd thing to say, but ...

... I wouldn't mind seeing MS release IE for Linux. As it is, IE is always closely integrated with one OS and comparisons with other browsers are inevitably skewed by the limited focus of the browser. On the other hand, perhaps I should be careful what I wish for.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: This might seem an odd thing to say, but ...

I'd be fascinated to see if Linux users could then fairly weigh up their version of IE against the competition. In my experience many Linux users have trouble remaining dispassionate whenever Microsoft's name gets mentioned.

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Boffin

WINE ?

I really CBA (Chrome is my browser of choice on Linux) but I'm sure some folk run IE under WINE ....

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Re: WINE ?

Yes, but they will not be running IE9 as AFAIK, there is no Vista or Win7 persona for Wine yet. What I've read appears to suggest that MS have made sufficient changes in the last two versions of Windows to require significant work from the Wine community to make it compatible.

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VirtualBox

That is all.

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@Pete Gathercole

Yes, Wine does have Win7 and Vista persona. Whether they implement enough of the new APIs is another matter, but Office 2010 certainly runs just fine under the Win7 persona on my girlfriend's laptop. I've no intention of trying IE9 though, life is too short.

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FAIL

Too Slow

"Microsoft's development process is too slow. IE9 was announced at the Mix conference in March 2010, nearly a year ago. It has only just reached RC, and looks less impressive now because competing browsers have improved."

Bingo. There's the problem right there - taking a year to develop a new version and then showing off a handful of new features, yet more standards-avoidance and more UI confusion isn't good enough. MS will always be trying to catch up with last years competition.

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Boffin

HTML5?

If you think that's slow, how long has the HTML5 standard been kicking about

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Stop

Deeper integration with the OS...

... is a repeated, and terrible, mistake.

The OS is the OS, and the browser the browser, and never should the twain mix. Even in Chrome OS, the browser is separated from the OS layer, and designed to run "applications" within the browser's ecosystem. Firefox doesn't try to "insinuate" itself into Windows Explorer.

Microsoft is trying too hard to mix the browser into it's OS, and that is a repeated mistake; maybe it's worried about it's browser's disappearing market share?

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SnoopDougieDoug

"Microsoft must be rattled by the steady decline in the market share of Internet Explorer"

Why? Are they making less money? How is this changing their bottom line? I see absolutely nothing to back your assertion.

BTW, I use IE9 beta, Chrome and Firefox. They all drive me nuts once in a while. Maybe I'll try Opera next.

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Market share

Microsoft aren't a charity. If they don't think that IE affects their bottom line in some way then it's really, really strange that they have put so much time and money into it over the years.

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go for opera

I tried all except for Chrome. I find ie not so bad and use it now and then. But I use on my private computers only opera. it's not cluttered and full of useful features without any need for add-ons. Firefox annoyed me too much, in the end, I had the impression I was using a fancy version of ie, but not as user friendly - like my feelings towards Netscape used to be...

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@Doug 11

Microsoft want to make IE a lever to sell Windows. As such, they need to differentiate it from Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera.

Unfortunately, with previous versions of IE, it appeared that their model was to make it significantly non-standards compliant but push it to become a de-facto standard so people who wanted a 'full' internet experience would be inconvenienced by the other browsers. Add a dependency between the browser and new versions of Windows (i.e. can't run IE9 on WinXP), and hey presto, you've made it so people with totally usable PC's need to upgrade to the new OS to use the 'features', adding to MS's coffers in the process.

They need to learn that this will no longer happen and indeed may backfire, so unless they embrace the standards, they will rapidly loose that lever, and will have to rely on other tactics in order to push Windows. I believe that they think that HTML5 including the H.264 codec protected by patents will be the enabler to bind people to Windows for another round of PC purchases.

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IE was about lock in

When Microsoft controlled the de facto browser, Microsoft controlled the de facto web standards. By doing so, they ensured that Windows was the only place you could see the web as the designers worked on it. Which didn't really do anything to prop up Windows on the desktop because Windows doesn't need propping up on the desktop — it won the battle for volume long ago — but did quite a lot to prop up the desktop as the only place to see full web content.

The transition back to an open market with multiple vendors has pushed the centre of gravity for real, practical, day-to-day work back to published, cross-platform standards. The big winner has been WebKit; once the web has to work properly outside of IE, suddenly Apple, Google, etc can put it onto a mobile phone. Or a tablet. Or whatever.

In the days when Microsoft had the only code capable of rendering what the web was filled with, you could expect them to have had a huge advantage in any emerging market involving the display of web content. They don't have that due to Firefox (plus others), and partly as a result their bottom line remains tied to the future of the full-size PC.

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Fast release cycle isn't necessarily good

Why is it that the same people that whinge about a new version of Office coming out every 3 years are the same people that demand a brand new browser every 6 months?

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Office vs IE releases

"Why is it that the same people that whinge about a new version of Office coming out every 3 years are the same people that demand a brand new browser every 6 months?"

Oh, hmm, let's see:

* New versions of Office cost hundreds of pounds.

* New versions of IE are free.

* New versions of Office do little more than change how the non-standard toolbars and menus look, for most people. The big features they add are used by only a handful of people. (Not that there haven't been some great features added over the years, but it's rare for people to care about many of them.)

* Office defines the file formats etc. which it uses, and has virtually no competition, and thus cannot be left behind if not updated often enough.

* OTOH, IE has serious competition and has to keep up with ever-evolving web standards/technology, yet stagnates. As a result, thanks to its declining but still huge market share, it holds back what web developers can do and/or the amount of time/hassle taken to do it.

I'm sure there are plenty more reasons, but that'll do.

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Stop

release cycle is independant

A good release cycle is determined by the alternatives available. And they differ for just about every product.

That is why it is stupid to tie any application to a particular version of the OS.

But, idiots run Microsoft. So they have to lie about what they do and screw up their product as a result.

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Jobs Horns

Integrated

They did themselves over by tying IE so heavily in with windows explorer back in the IE4/IE5 days. It basically meant that upgrading IE was a hefty and error-prone process so people just didn't bother... and possibly switched to competitors. I remember trying to upgrade to IE5 on Win98 and it took down my windows installation.

And it looks like the same problem may still persist though to a lesser extent.

A WinXP SP3/IE7 user had a windows update popup the other day advising them to download and install IE8, so we clicked the link and followed the update process. After about 10 minutes of mysterious progress bar, I was informed that IE8 was not available on that platform. That user is now happily using Firefox.

As a developer, this was a nightmare. It's basically meant there was a huge persistent userbase of IE4-IE6, making it very difficult to use current web standards without horrible hacks.

The article author is correct, I found myself in web dev standstill from 2002-2006, having to develop for the lowest common denominator which was actually used by 95% of our site visitors!

But now with proliferation of other browsers that support the specs, it now gives me the confidence to use bits of CSS3, webfonts and HTML5 elements knowing that support will be increasingly available.

And hopefully with browsers generally implementing some sort of auto-update, more people will keep browsers up-to-date, so standards proliferation can happen faster. Developers will be able to use new specifications, faster. Imagine the W3C releasing some HTML5.1 standards and them being supported in browsers within 12 months... great!

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Go

IE 8 For Windows XP

>> I was informed that IE8 was not available on that platform.

File name: IE8-WindowsXP-x86-ENU.exe

[many other languages available]

OS: Windows XP Service Pack 2;Windows XP Service Pack 3

Published: March 2009

<a href="http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=341c2ad5-8c3d-4347-8c03-08cdecd8852b" a>Windows Internet Explorer 8 for Windows XP<a>

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Stop

Insane

The IE9 beta installation already hosed my Windows 7 desktop (work PC, wouldn't let one of these in my house!). Thankfully our support folks are giving me a Windows7 VM to try it with this week, having had to rebuild my PC on Friday. I don't think either of us want to do that again.

The mind boggle why they have to intergrate anything. For the chap up-thread who suggests the integration is just UI: if that's the case, why does the beta insist on downloading 4 components that require my PC to reboot? Safari, FireFox, Chrome don't require WINDOWS to be modified to run... it's just inane.

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Anonymous Coward

Couple of things make it a none starter for me

The address bar and tabs are on the same row, this means you can either only see bits of your tabs or only see a small part of the URL of the page you are currently on. I like tabs and I like the address bar, it doens't mean I want them mixing up.

Page titles have gone, not displayed anywhere, and for what possible reason?

The address bar thing adds massive usability issues for me. Maybe it's because I'm a technical user rather than a consumer user, I can see most people not giving two hoots.

In my book minamilist interface = styllish looks with less usability, I don't browse the internet to look stylish, I browse the internet to do stuff.

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Megaphone

read the article

"You can now optionally place tabs on a separate row below the One Box"

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