back to article Don't stop me! Why Microsoft's inevitable browser irrelevance isn't

May's nearly here, and you know what that means. Yet another round of monthly browser stats articles. If past trends are an indication of future development, we'll see the continued loss of market share by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and the rise and rise of Google’s Chrome. I’m old enough to remember the browser wars of the …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    It won't be seeing my computer

    I couldn't run it if I wanted to, but I don't want to anyway... for the same reason I won't run Chrome. I don't want to give either MS or Goog a free ride into all my internet activity.

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: It won't be seeing my computer

      Exactly my reasoning, too. I make trade-offs, knowing I can't really keep myself secret if I use the intertubes, but doing whatever I can not to make my whole life a present, especially to Google, who has already filed a patent on being able to 'nudge' people on its search engine to behave the way it wants them to behave, i.e. reminding about things in their calendar so they can take actions, such as booking an Uber ride to the airport -- the supplier of the ride paying for this service.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It won't be seeing my computer

        Show me the patent and I'll show you a law that they can't use it.

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: It won't be seeing my computer

      Installing Chrome in 2017 (on a Mac, at least) is like installing Microsoft Office was in 1997: it'll fill large parts of your UI with undesired mess (e.g. creating separate Launchapad icons for Gmail, Google Maps, etc) that it periodically automatically reinstates, and you can chuck an extra minute onto machine startup time as it aggressively squirrels its update service into your machine startup process.

      So it won't be seeing my computer either.

      (Evidence: http://www.cio.com/article/2993065/os-x/os-x-el-capitan-remove-unwanted-google-chrome-apps-from-launchpad.html https://www.wireload.net/products/guu-google-update-uninstaller/ )

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: It won't be seeing my computer

        I'll add my voice to the crowd. I actually like Edge fine - but it signs you into Microsoft automatically. You can put it into private mode every single time you start it up but you can't set it to not try and track you every time you fire it up.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It won't be seeing my computer

          "I actually like Edge fine - but it signs you into Microsoft automatically. "

          Only if you tell it to remember your password. You can delete saved passwords under advanced options.

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: It won't be seeing my computer

            >>"Only if you tell it to remember your password. You can delete saved passwords under advanced options."

            I don't think that's correct. Or else you misunderstand me and think I'm talking about it signing you in automatically to web sites. What it does is every time you start it up connect to a Microsoft account for you, tracking any search history and browsing history, et al. The only way around this is to switch to Private Browsing every single time you open it. There's no setting to disable the Microsoft logging, so far as I'm aware. It's nothing to do with saved passwords.

            1. cambsukguy

              Re: It won't be seeing my computer

              You don't have to 'switch' to private browsing, you can start a private window with right click from the taskbar.

              I presume you can also create a shortcut to open one directly and pace that on the task bar or desktop, but I didn't look further.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It won't be seeing my computer

      "I don't want to give either MS or Goog a free ride into all my internet activity."

      Microsoft don't log your browsing history though, or sell your data. Slurp do both.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: It won't be seeing my computer

        Microsoft don't log your browsing history though,

        So... How do you explain those privacy settings in Windows 8+ that specifically mention using your browsing history?

        [El Reg, can we please have that steaming pile of bullshit icon? Thanks.]

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Will

      Well, one nice alternative to Chrome could be Opera. From what I can tell by reading some of the previous posts it seems less bloated than Chrome, it doesn't try to push things in your face (the browser interface is pretty slim, the only 2 visible clickable options are the Opera menu and the browser tab button).

      The main reason I run Opera though is because I like a browser which isn't IE, FireFox or Chrome. Although, in all fairness, Opera is build upon Chromium so it obviously has some ties into Chrome.

      1. joed

        Re: @Will

        Truly the only PC alternative to Chrome and IE/Edge is Firefox (and derivatives). Opera is just a Chrome spinoff.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Opera?!

        Really? They were taken over a few months ago by some Chinese outfit - no way would I trust them now.

  2. Spotswood

    Power

    I use Chrome on Windows, but only when I'm plugged into AC. If I'm on battery, (and I'm REALLY trying to conserve power) I will use Edge. It is undoubtedly the most 'lean' browser on Windows in terms of power consumption. Similarly I will use Safari on a MacBook in the same scenario. On my iPhone, I will almost exclusively use Safari. In fact, I don't even have Chrome installed. Never needed it, despite my reliance on Google services. On Android (Galaxy S7) I use the built in browser because it has smooth scrolling. I find Chrome's performance in that aspect lacklustre at best. I've tried Chrome on various Android phones and I've always found it unoptimised and terrible. Mind you, I've never owned a Nexus or Pixel and it did appear to run really well on my friends Pixel. Is it only optimised for pure Google phones? That's certainly been my observation anyway.

    Overall, Chrome is probably my favourite of the bunch, but it is a power sucking whore and for me that limits me on when I can use it.

    1. Blank Reg

      Re: Power

      Chrome has become my browser of last resort. It has become a flakey bloated resource hog that often claims to have run out of memory, I now use Edge 90% of the time, it's faster and rarely runs into problems.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I use Chrome

    And do you know why I use chrome?

    I was there through the browser wars, struggling to get Mosaic to work and then almost immediately going to IE and Netscape.

    My experience from those times was one of frustration - incompatible rendering of HTML tags, Netscape offering a good alternative for a while but then bloating up beyond recognition and slowing down something aweful.. IE getting ahead, then getting almost seemingly abandoned by MS once they had "won" over netscape... I remember IE being very buggy at the time, and no new features coming in.. I used opera for a while, which was small, fast and felt like the future.. I think this was around about the same time that IE would always, when started, suggest that you change it back as the default browser (if you had something else set up) ... then competition from firefox and IE starting to pick up again.. more trying to get competitive edge via incompatible implementations, etc.

    Now I have chrome, and it works.. it keeps being developed, there isn't really any websites that suddenly require a different browser (google keeps it up to date and running smoothly).. It works across all my devices... but the main reason why I am not changing away from chrome anytime soon is just this: it doesn't give me frustration. It works.

    And as long as it doesn't frustrate me, stand in the way of what I want to do, mess with my system, bloat up and slow down my computer, etc, I will keep to chrome - life is too short to switch browsers every 6 months, especially if your current one is giving you no grief.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: I use Chrome

      Um, I'm just as old as you if we're going by using Mosaic and I have to say things have changed. These days Chrome is responsible for more standards violation and strong-arming of how the Internet works and IE11 / Edge is the one that plays nice. You know why? Because it isn't determined by which company is a Good Guy and which is the Bad Guy, it's determined by which one has the power. And these days Google do.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Chrome’s not completely free of bugs:"

    Its also not free of slurping your local history, forms data / passwords and everything else it can slurp to the cloud without permission. It happens even if Activity / Dashboard 'sync' is off! F@ck off Google! Sticking with Firefox!

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: "Chrome’s not completely free of bugs:"

      Then run Chromium, or anything else that uses the Blink engine.

      1. joed

        Re: "Chrome’s not completely free of bugs:"

        I don't know about Chromium. This thing is dog slow. Maybe because I'm spoiled by Firefox/Palemoon with NoScript and such.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Chrome’s not completely free of bugs:"

      On iOS/iPads, I've never explicitly signed into Youtube, yet it turns out, I'm signed into Youtube, tied to an email account, because I have a subscription to Google Play music.

      Fcuk you Google.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Chrome’s not completely free of bugs:"

        iOS is leaking details across sandboxes . Your own fault for buying a crappy OS that is creaking at the seams desperately trying to keep up....

  5. teknopaul Bronze badge

    My work Windows 7

    Refuses to install IE 10, meh.

    1. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: My work Windows 7

      "Refuses to install IE 10, meh."

      Why are you not installing IE11?

      If you really need IE 10 and they are not sure what to do, point someone competent at https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj822354.aspx

    2. Halfmad

      Re: My work Windows 7

      If they have sites that only work on older browsers go to IE11 and use Browsium.

      1. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: My work Windows 7

        "If they have sites that only work on older browsers go to IE11 and use Browsium."

        Just use Enterprise mode on IE11. Pressing F12 will give you a dev menu where you can select and test different IE levels...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The whole concept of a browser has already slid into irrelevance, then: it’s just that Microsoft seems to be the first to realise it."

    That didn't happen. Web apps largely obsoleted the desktop. Windows is for legacy win32 applications, and their "metro universal platform app store, or whatever" is a technological dead-end.

    For better and worse Google is driving the web's evolution now. Microsoft doesn't even have the power to passive-aggressively sabotage the web any more.

    Also Chrome uses BLINK not webkit, which they ditched to allow progress. Blink is now many years ahead of stagnant webkit, and is also switching to a GPU based renderer skia.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Chrome uses Blink, which is not an acronym, which is zero years "ahead" of WebKit as both are actively developed. Both are GPU accelerated.

      A six-year old presentation on the GPU rendering deployed by WebKit: https://www.slideshare.net/joone/hardware-acceleration-in-webkit

      At random, one of the many WebKit bug tickets that has been resolved within the last week: https://bugs.webkit.org/show_bug.cgi?id=171129

    2. LDS Silver badge

      The desktop is where the magic still happens...

      While web apps may have obsoleted desktop apps for some simpler task - like reading a single inbox, or typing simple documents, the desktop is where the true power of a PC is shown. Also, smartphones shown that local, native application can be far better to use than web pages.

      And, frankly, I really don't see any need to send my data back and forth to/from servers I have no control upon, when I can run everything locally with a far better UI and less lag.

      Of course data slurping companies like Google and now MS want you to believe it's better to send them everything...

    3. Def Silver badge

      Windows is for legacy win32 applications, and their "metro universal platform app store, or whatever" is a technological dead-end.

      So by that rather poorly thought out argument, the Apple App Store and Google Play stores are also technological dead ends. That must be why nobody cares about apps any more...

      Actually, I think you'll find single-function apps are slowly going the way of the dodo to be replaced by the super-app that does everything in a horrendous AOL/Compuserve mashup stylie.

  7. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Happy

    > including ancillary stuff like Active Directory

    Browser, AD, browser, AD, hm, what do you mean ? SSO/WIA ? Very easy to set up in Chrome and Firefox, good that it is disabled by default, though ... imho. For Chrome, you can even control it through GPO, yes, yes ... templates ?

    https://jorgequestforknowledge.wordpress.com/category/active-directory-federation-services-adfs/windows-integrated-authn/

  8. Mikel

    Cross Platform

    >Whilst writing this I looked around to see why people think it’s still a good thing to use, say, Chrome or Firefox instead of IE or Edge, and a lot of the reasons can best be termed “tenuous.”

    As you note, IE is only cross-platform in the Microsoft meaning of the term: it runs on more than one version of Windows. We use more things that don't and can't run Windows at all now, and if you want a consistent Web experience then you want a browser that runs on almost all the things.

    And then there are those web Office apps you mention. Microsoft history has their browser deliberately incompatible with other vendors' services, and their services deliberately incompatible with other vendors' browsers. They can't do the latter when their browser is a minority share without harming the prospects of their services offering. So even if you use Office 363 on Windows it's best to do so from Chrome to preserve your option to do so.

    These reasons aren't "tenuous".

  9. tiggity Silver badge

    control

    Speed is not everything to me.

    I like some degree of control with my browser, be it fine grained cookie control, stopping videos autoplaying, script disable / whitelist , tracking disable, inspecting traffic / scripts (when debugging web apps) etc.

    Which, typically means a browser with a good ecosystem of add ons.

    So, depending what platform I am using / where I am , I use a variety of browsers, depending what's appropriate (e.g. if using dubious hotel WiFi I may well use Opera to make use of inbuilt VPN)

    If some sites misbehave with a particular browser I will drop that site a line (if they actually provide contact details).

    Don't like the idea of being resolutely wedded to a particular browser (though usage based probably use a couple of Mozilla forks most frequently just because of add ons). Use chrome sparingly as I find it quite a resource hog & annoyingly busy at writing to disk when it should be doing nothing

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: control: Speed is not everything to me.

      This.

      I'm not giving anyone free access to my personal life. My diary and phone is full of cryptic and re-used appointment and alarm text. Internet browsing uses FF because of noscript and some trust. Corporate intranet often gets chrome because of rubbish apps, process isolation and zero personal care factor on slurping corporate data. IE and Edge I find just... ugly whitespace hogs and are a last resort on the corporate webapp side of things. I don't care if the browser rendering is a little unexpected, I don't care much about the speed. The main care factors are privacy, compatibility and efficient screen usage.

      And did the article author really resurrect the 90's idea that its a good to give your web browser r/w URL access to the file system? Does he remember what data MS' browsers send to the cloud on Windows 10? Does he want to include all local file access in that list? Not that I care. I've got nothing personal under Windows, All my stuff is under Suse.

  10. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Hacking.

    Microsoft products, including the browser, are still the primary target for hackers, because they're used by default by people without technical knowledge.

    I have technical knowledge, but I don't want to spend my day deciding whether each interaction with the internet is an attempt to hack or social-engineer me.

    Although, yes, professional hackers are quite likely to include support for hacking Chrome or Firefox or whatever in their toolkit. But the volume is less.

    Microsoft products also have (semi-)secret access to Windows internal functions, which means that more damage can be done by hacking than with a third-party browser or e-mail product.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Hacking.

      "Microsoft products, including the browser, are still the primary target for hackers, because they're used by default by people without technical knowledge."

      And, for some damn reason, they seem to be chock full o' security craters, waiting for some 0-day to exploit!

      An advantage of open source browsers is the potential for peer review and contributed patches.

      MS, meanwhile, re-re-re-invents the browser (complete with all new millennial generation security craters, no doubt, since they haven't learned their lesson yet), with a 2D FLATSO interface, calling it "Edge", and expects us NOT to associate that name with an activity that involves pleasuring oneself...

      1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

        Re: Hacking.

        And, for some damn reason, they seem to be chock full o' security craters, waiting for some 0-day to exploit!

        The "some damn reason" is the one given in the quote: the products are a primary target for hackers. The most successful way to find something is to look for it, which brings me to...

        An advantage of open source browsers is the potential for peer review and contributed patches.

        I'll give you "contributed patches", but peer-review is only potential. The "million eyeballs" is a fallacy that has given project maintainers an unjustified sense of security in the past. Really there's only about a thousand or so eyeballs on anything, but more seriously, code is mostly screened only at entry to the codebase, rather than by systematic review of the whole source (a daunting task, that very few commercial vendors do; but unlike OSS, they can at least hire a hundred devs and force them to pick through the code).

        Security vulnerabilities aren't like ordinary bugs - they don't disrupt the normal operation of a tool, so users are unlikely to spot them. You have to look for them to find them.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: Hacking.

          Most vulnerabilities today aren't found by perusing source code and checking its correctness by eye. In large projects, it is quite impossible, and the people with the required skill level are probably busy doing something more productive, unless explicitly paid to perform a review of part of the code.

          Applications are stressed using automated tools to find places where they break. And given most attacks imply very low-level techniques, it matters little if you have source code or not.

          And avoiding vulnerabilities is now more a matter of writing safe code from scratch, and test it thoroughly, than hoping someone with a lot of time to waste will read it looking for mistakes. Sure, some other developer working on the same code could stumble upon them and report/fix them, but that happens in both open and closed source projects - and the number of eyes depends only on the size of the teams.

        2. Walter Bishop Silver badge
          Terminator

          Re: Hacking.

          "code is mostly screened only at entry to the codebase, rather than by systematic review of the whole source (a daunting task, that very few commercial vendors do"

          That would be news to me, that commercial vendors do systematic review of the whole source. Usually it's, if it compiles sucessfullly then ship it and fix any bugs in the next version

          1. nijam

            Re: Hacking.

            > ... if it compiles successfully then ship it and fix any bugs in the next version

            if it compiles successfully then ship it and fix one or two bugs in the next version, ad infinitum

  11. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Microsoft's continued slide into irrelevance

    This article seems to gloss over Microsoft's irrelevance in the only growing market: mobile devices. It acknowledges that browser development is expensive but fails to take this into account regarding Microsoft's attempts.

    It has been force-feeding "Edge" on Windows 10 users for years now and it's still only getting 2-3 % of desktop users, itself a shrinking slice of the pie. Enterprise users were badly burnt by the "seamless" integration via ActiveX of IE and, because, Microsoft was so slow to devote resources to web compatibility, they specifically targeted web compatibility for the next generation of network-based apps, not leased because corporates are mainly still on Windows 7, so all the Edge "goodness" isn't available. Enterprise apps have lifecycles of at least 5 years.

    Microsoft has had to recognise its failure by releasing Office for Android and IOS, once it realised that people would happily pay for it.

    Back to Microsoft's browsers: IE 9 did include a significant rewrite of the renderer but IE 9 - 11 were hamstrung by all that ActiveX compatibility. Edge has dropped this, but as the CERT reports show, still share enough code with the older versions to be vulnerable to many attacks. It's now playing catch up for features but, as so often with Microsoft, you can never be sure it will continue to devote sufficient resources to the project. Fortunately for them, it looks like most of the stuff that was missing from HTML has now been added and a more gradual development path is possible.

    The debt we owe to those at Mozilla and Opera and later Google who fought for open standards cannot be understated. Without it we'd still be developing browser-specific sites and be dependent upon shit like ActiveX and Flash for advanced interactivity. Anything that smells like that kind of lock-in is not going to get a look-in for the next few years.

    1. VlaN

      Re: Microsoft's continued slide into irrelevance

      Microsoft, as it turns put, is actually trying to make Edge more relevant and now will give it its own updates separately from Win 10.

      https://software.informer.com/Stories/microsoft-to-separate-edge-from-windows-10-updates.html

      I get what they are trying to do: being dependant on system updates makes the browser really old, really fast. Considering the way the 10 is updated, it gets even worse. But the question is: what good will it do? Edge is a piece of sh~t, Windows updates or not.

  12. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    All was going well until this

    IE is Microsoft’s window onto their ever-growing cloud application suite.

    Nope, not going there. No way, no how. I took early retirement just so that I can consign using anything made, sorry crippled by MS to the waste bin of history.

    No more going to the carefully save URL on the sharepoint server only to get '404 page not found'.

    Yep, i saved the link correctly as my screenshot showed. Report problem to IT Support. Ever heard one of those endless cheeful Indian 1st Level Support people groan? This used to happen so much that my department setup its own Git repo for everything. We stll put stuff into Sharepoint but we never ever went there to look for it.

    Sorry, El Reg, I have better things to do with my life now than fight the MS Lunacy that gets released to the unsuspecting world.

    Thank god they don't release IE/Edge for Linux or MacOS. There is a haven of safely there for us who are done with MS.

    If anyone from MS is reading this,... don't you dare release your shite browsers on the above platforms. You will get so much stick that any bad news you may have read about W10 was a mere ripple when compared to the shitestorm that will come your way.

    I'll carry on using Firefox (ESR stream) and Safari for the odd times that FF gets it knickers in a twist.

  13. Philip Storry

    I use Chrome because Google has accomplished for the consumer what Microsoft does for the corporate user.

    They built a platform that allows you to roam.

    When I sign in to Chrome, my bookmarks and history follow me. On Windows, Linux, Android - it doesn't matter. It all just follows me. Oh, and where applicable, so do my browser extensions. Log in to a machine I haven't used for a while? No worries, Chrome will soon be the familiar place it is everywhere else for me.

    Microsoft does provide roaming profiles for companies. But they haven't really wholeheartedly grabbed the idea of having an account in the cloud that their software uses for this. They're partway there, but they seem to want to segment their products into "professional" ones that do roam, and "consumer" ones that don't. Internet Explorer (and Edge) seem to be stuck in the "don't" pile.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "I use Chrome because Google has accomplished for the consumer what Microsoft does for the corporate user.

      They built a platform that allows you to roam."

      At the price of them being able to see what you're doing. Is this kind of ability worth having Big Brother looking over your shoulder most of the time?

      1. Philip Storry

        @Charles 9 - yes, it's a fair price.

        They have pretty strong privacy policies. They're huge - so big that it would be very difficult to defend against an attack from them. But as a threat, they're negligible - they have plenty of good reasons to treat my data well. Reputation, legal requirements, etc... So I'm not that fussed by it.

        And often, the very things that people think are bad about this are actually a benefit for me.

        Way back when Opera first went ad-supported, in version 5, I was a registered user. I was also one of the people asking for the ability for registered users to toggle the adbanner bar in the UI. (They never did provide that.)

        The ads that Opera served were of two types - generic casino/entertainment ads that were animated and flashy and somewhat annoying, and Google ads that were just text - hence unobtrusive. But the Google ads were also targeted, based on the page you were on (not on tracking you, as I understood it). So when you're shopping for something, you always had this set of alternative options in that banner, which was sometimes what I wanted.

        A lot of people couldn't understand why I would even want to toggle the ads on or off - but they were sometimes useful. And making my computer more useful is the only good reason for any change to my computer.

        Google's services do make many people unnerved. But when I look at what I get from them, I think it's a fair exchange.

        1. LDS Silver badge
          Big Brother

          "They have pretty strong privacy policies."

          Joke of the year, and it's only April...

    2. LDS Silver badge

      haven't really wholeheartedly grabbed the idea of having an account in the cloud

      It's exactly what they did with Windows 8. And the idea of storing my data in the cloud in ways outside my control still worries me...

    3. nematoad Silver badge

      "When I sign in to Chrome, my bookmarks and history follow me."

      You know that's the bit that worries me. If it is able to follow you around that means that it must be stored somewhere. In this case with Google, and that is a company that I try to avoid at all costs. My bookmarks, history etc. are mine, not something for someone else to mine, package and sell.

      Chrome may do all you say but for me the snooping is a price too high.

      I use Palemoon. Firefox without all the cruft.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        If it is able to follow you around that means that it must be stored somewhere.

        Sure, but the storage can also be encrypted so that only your user can read it. Opera pioneered this years ago, and Firefox also offers it and I do something similar with Signal. I don't use Chrome personally but I can understand that users with multiple devices appreciate this kind of service.

        I know Google stores all the data on us it can, but I also think they're pretty shrewd about what bits they think they can make money from: GMail is probably far more interesting for personalised ads than browser extensions and bookmarks.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Hopefully you learn from the internet.

          Rule #1 Anything can be hacked and security is temporary, which leads to

          Rule #2 Anything on the internet is public display. You can hide them now but one day it will get leaked. Yahoo account leaks is just one example.

          Rule #3 There is no cloud. It's just someone else's computer. That someone else rules everything you put on their computer. Encryption, cloud storage, backups, policies, laws, rules? It's their computer, you don't get the final choice. Apple can easiest pull out your info when needed whenever they need to. Unless it is end-to-end encryption, someone else will be able to do whatever under their power.

          Also Google's personalized ads business is stupid. Given any random person has been searching for a lot of fashion products and one time searches for "phone got wet", why is google still serving fashion product ads?!?! And serving phone ads after confirmed a new phone purchase is also stupid. Seriously, that person just brought a new phone, they don't need another one, scanning GMail for personalized ads is stupid. Duckduckgo can do their business without personalized ads because they knew exactly this.

          staying as AC for calling stuff stupid.

          1. Havin_it

            @AC

            Firefox accounts do use end-to-end encryption, so your 2nd and 3rd "rules" are moot. And if the data "being on someone else's computer" still bothers you that much in spite of this, the server software is all open-source so you can host it on your own computer if you want.*

            * I did this myself and have to admit it is quite a battle to set it all up correctly, so in the end I asked myself why I was bothering and got a Firefox account instead. #NoRegrets

  14. phuzz Silver badge

    I use all of them, well, Firefox for my main browsing, Chrome for streaming stuff (it seems to be more reliable than FF), and Edge when I just need a page open for a long time without it interacting with my 'actual' browsing.

    I think Edge gets a bad rap just because it's an MS browser. It works, it doesn't do anything flashy, it just shows web pages.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >I think Edge gets a bad rap just because it's an MS browser. It works, it doesn't do anything flashy, it just shows web pages.

      Depends who you are - while they're fond of mentioning it was the first browser to score 100% on the HTML5 browser accessibility test it doesn't actually work with any AT - JAWS, NVDA, Dolphin, Nuances' offerings - no joy. The newest Edge version (with Creators) doesn't even support Narrator.

    2. Vic

      I think Edge gets a bad rap just because it's an MS browser. It works, it doesn't do anything flashy, it just shows web pages

      I crashes frequently[1], it changes focus at random when closing windows[2], it ignores certificate decisions I've already taken[3], it doesn't respect the settings I've given it[4], ...

      I'm hoping the boss will let me change this machine quite markedly. W10 is bad enough, Edge is appalling.

      Vic.

      [1] Usually when I try to open a new tab or window with a few PDFs already open - but not normally from the "open in new tab/window" option on a link

      [2] When closing a maximised window, I would expect to see the window underneath it - the one I was using previously. But over the last few days, Edge seems to want to give me something else I'd been using at another time...

      [3] I deliberately have an invalid certificate on my server. Edge will accept this for some time - occasionally, even for days - and then will suddenly throw up a certificate warning. The certificate hasn't changed...

      [4] The BBC site is the worst for this at the moment: it wants my location. I don't want to give it my location, and have explicitly disabled that in Settings. But Edge insists on telling me every single bloody time that the BBC wants my location, and I'll have to enable that in Settings....

  15. Bob Vistakin
    Pint

    "Chrome helpfully stepped in."

    Understatement of the decade. Made me laugh though - cheers!

  16. noboard
    Facepalm

    "The whole concept of a browser has already slid into irrelevance, then: it’s just that Microsoft seems to be the first to realise it. "

    Any one else think of Bill Gates when reading this part?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IE8

    I use IE8 for testing purposes and I am always impressed by its design and the quality of its rendering, particularly of text.

    I have to ask what went wrong in later versions - why have an address bar the width of a postage stamp? Why make half-hearted attempts to copy Chrome, but persist with your 1990s style bookmarking system? Why do pages look worse then they did in earlier versions, and why so jittery?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Internet Explorer, still the heart of Microsoft's problems.

    Compare TFS web interface to say BitBucket Server. They look and feel like generations apart.

    Atlassian's feel modern and responsive and like a real app, Microsoft's looks like dogshite, and uses static HTML content. It's horrible and clunky. Why? As it needs to work with Internet Explorer, that's why.....

    Same with other Microsoft web based stuff. Office365. Pretty horrible, coded to work with IE, and full of horrible workarounds. Sharepoint, ditto...

    Microsoft are stuck between a rock and a hardplace. They can't abandon IE, whilst the refuse to release Edge on anything but Win10, and their web apps will continue to suck until they abandon IE.

    Either that, or they have the balls to take Internet Explorer behind the shed, but a bullet in it, and tell users to use Chrome or Firefox instead on platforms where Microsoft isn't supporting Edge.

  19. td0s

    I'm certain microsoft would still be forcing activex controls down our throats if they could get away with it, that alone is enough of a reson to avoid all their products.

    I developed a website in 2015 which had to support IE6 because of activex controls, this is a ludicrous situation, and obviously not entirely microsofts fault but it's a world they encouraged and then dumped, much like their approach to most products it seems.

  20. idiotsavant

    Dev Tools

    Chrome, because I use the Dev Tools a lot and find them better than IE/Edge, especially when extensions are added.

    Nothing wrong with the Firefox equivalent tools, but I needed to pick one. Jumping back and forth from Chrome to Firefox for web development and debugging is just confusing - the tools are just different enough that I can't find what I'm looking for.

  21. Franco Silver badge

    Personally I use Firefox. It's not as good as it once was, the occasional random UI changes being particularly annoying, but I couldn't use Edge for the most part as it doesn't yet have a good adblocker. Opera on mobile for preference.

    I WILL NOT use Chrome on general principle. I don't see how an article that takes a backhanded swipe at Microsoft for their own (indefensible) attempts at a one browser state cannot even mention Google's drive-by download tactics which are (IMO) a large part of why they have such a large market share.

    1. keith_w

      I am glad someone brought that up. I was planning to if someone else didn't. I was recently at a client's who was using Chrome, when asked she replied "What's Chrome?" so I presume she got it via a drive-by download. I dislike Chrome intensely for it's nasty habit of taking over every possible extension whether you want it to or not, especially .PDF so that Chrome launches even if you are opening a locally scanned document and it takes longer than if you are opening whatever version of Adobe reader you happen to be using.

  22. Palpy

    Multiple platforms --

    -- as several other commentards mention, usually means multiple OSes. My wife is a Mac user, I uses Linux at home and must use Win 7 at work. Obviously Chrome and Firefox work across all my machines. Obviously neither IE nor Edge do so. With a bit o'tweaking I can get a consistent browser config whether I'm on the Ubuntu box, the wife's Mac Air, or the Windows box on my work desk.

    Cloudy apps? Some of my machines are air-gapped. They can't see clouds. I run desktop applications. Of course the cloud can be useful for backups... unless someone fries them for you. (Netgear said sorry, so it's all good.) And unless the services are down (again). Lookin' at you, Microsoft.

    Microsoft has a history of introducing powerful but insecure technology. Hypertext applications that run VBScript using IE's engine. Office macros, beloved by blackhats worldwide. Silverlight, ActiveX. Will the MS leopard change its security blind-spots with Edge?

    Sometimes a browser should be just a browser.

  23. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Well Firefox used to be my jack of all sites, but a recent upgrade forbade the use of the java plugin I absolutely must have for remote connecting to my workplace after hours citing "security concerns" (curiously it left the Flash plugin in place; gofigger), offering me no way to adjust that behavior Team Firefox made on my behalf, so now I have to use IE and the alternative Active X plugin.

    WaytergoTeam Firefox!

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      Flash is a bug ridden POC that is not fit anything these days.

      The sooner it goes away once and for all, the better.

      Love him or loath him, Steve Jobs made a really good decision (IMHO) to not allow flash on iDevices.

      To me, that started the death wane of flash. I signed up to a Photo printing service a few months ago. It needed Flash to upload my images. WTF moment. Deleted account 5 minutes later.

      Your VPN is probably out of the arc but IT departments are loathe to change those sorts of things. More than their jobs worth.

      So you will have to stick with IE until MS decides that they should junk it (please properly kill Silverlight at the same time).

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        You need to re-read my post. I'm not using Flash. I would like to be able to use Java. You know, that most popular language in the world according to some (rather un-credible) citations.

        I understand why the plug-ins are disabled. I just find it rather annoyingly ironic that Firefox, once a bastion of opinion on the subject of forcing choices on the user, should choose to lock out Java (with no way of unlocking it) but retain Flash (as "on" by default).

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "Should choose to lock out Java [...] but retain Flash"

          The main issue with Firefox is it became strongly consumer oriented, and utterly ignored the needs of many having to use a browser in a professional environment, where you may need Java (understanding all the issues) and even - gods forbids! - SSLv3 for some older equipment web consoles.

          They retained Flash because it's so common in bad consumer websites - not because VSphere 5.5 uses it for management...

  24. israel_hands

    I thought I was hallucinating during that article. It's almost the complete and utter opposite of the reality I experience every day.

    Browsers themselves are far from obsolete, for a large proportion of people it's the only thing they use a computer for.

    I typically use Firefox because I find it fast and stable and I like the way it works in general. The main reasons for using it over IE are a) because it works and b) because it takes less than 5 minutes to open and then another 5 minutes to load the homepage. Which is a stark contrast to IE "performance".

    As to using Office365 browser versions, I use them if I'm forced to, and they still work better in Firefox than they do in IE. I think I've only ever come across a couple of things that didn't work in Firefox but did in IE and considering the slow performance of IE it makes more sense to use Firefox day-to-day and reluctantly switch to IE on those few occasioans where Firfox gets into a pickle.

    For an article that is simply brimming with rose-tinted nonsense the highlight has to be the claim that the Office online apps are a viable alternative to the full-fat clients. They're more like cut-down trial versions than anything else and some of the stuff that has been cut out is completely nonsensical. I could understand limiting some of the more esoteric or intensive functions such as macro-building or tracking changes but things like having a reduced palette for cell-colours in Excel is fucking idiotic. No reasonable explanation I can see for them doing it but the amount of users I've had complaining about how shit the online version is drives me up the wall.

    The entire article is basically saying that it doesn't matter how shit IE is because it works with Microsoft's other shit products (a bit) and nobody uses browsers anymore so it's not important which browser people use.

  25. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Happy

    A Gigantic Technological Achievement

    ....the 'old' science was based on the impossibilty of infection without being in close proximity. Now we have 'Clouds' bringing us exciting new vistas of insecurity. How long before an AIDS like virus spreads among all those innocents who only know 'On/Off'?

  26. Tim 11

    Active Desktop anyone?

    A lot of the things described in this article already happened 15 years ago in IE4 with Active desktop. It bombed. Are things different now?

  27. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    The only place where I have IE installed is on the Win7 VM that resides on my Mac at work. And even there, I have FF installed as an alternative.

    Every other device that I own/use runs on MacOS (main home and work machines), Linux (an old netbook that I find occasionally useful), iOS (big tablet), or Android (small tablet and phone). So, while I like to think that I'm platform-agnostic, I *DO* have my limits!

    That said, Safari is my most commonly-used browser, with Opera second (as someone else noted above, the built-in VPN is nice to have on occasion). Firefox comes in third, with Chrome being used on my phone only because it doesn't choke on the "real-time" (HAH!) bus-tracker that our local bus system uses. (Safari also handles it well, but it's easier to pull the site up up on my phone that dig the 'Pad out of my pack.)

    So, yeah.. Edge = not happening, while Chrome = MOSTLY not happening.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    I use most of them...

    Edge works better with one cloud platform.

    Chrome, well SRWare Iron to be precise for some things.

    Firefox for the platform I look after

    IE for our intranet.

    Not a single one work wells with everything.

    Edge can screw up with some buttons and input fields

    Chrome, decides not connect to legacy kit due to old encryption protocols...after all plain text is better than out of date protocols.

    Firefox, is now stuck on a old version because they decide to no longer support Java, but the other browsers don't work correctly.

    IE because the intranet fails to render properly.

    So basically every single one has issue

  29. Walter Bishop Silver badge

    IE saw off NCSA Mosaic and Netscape Navigator?

    "I’m old enough to remember the browser wars of the 1990s, when Microsoft arrived late with IE yet still saw off NCSA Mosaic and Netscape Navigator."

    I remember it differently. Only because Microsoft licensed NSCA Mosaic from Spyglass and renamed it Internet Explorer 1.0. After giving an undertaking to pay Spyglass, Microsoft then proceeded to 'give it away'. Subsequently, after much litigation Spyglass went broke. ref ref

  30. BitDr

    A surreal article...

    A strange read.

    This sentence from the article;

    "IE is Microsoft’s window onto their ever-growing cloud application suite."

    should be rewritten to read;

    "The browser is Microsoft’s window onto their ever-growing cloud application suite."

    I started to see it as an advertorial when sentences like this one;

    "Google have an excellent suite of cloud-based office application of their own, but my Office 365 world seems to work pretty well with Chrome too – which is handy given that these days there’s not a Microsoft browser for non-Microsoft platforms (IE for Mac bit the dust back in 2003, after all) so it lets me work with my cloud apps on non-Windows platforms."

    Lets analyse this shall we? It starts off complimenting the competition, then gives them a sideways complement/insult, instilling doubt by saying that they (the non MS browsers) "seem to work *pretty well* with Office 365". This is a classic sales technique, compliment and never directly criticize the competition. You can then cast doubt on their products but also praise, heck, even you use the competition's products! Then another sideways compliment to the competition while building yourself up "it (Chrome) lets me work with my cloud apps on non-Windows platforms." Then give yourself a soft slap on the wrist for not doing a better job in the past, while continuing to implicitly praise the competition "there’s not a Microsoft browser for non-Microsoft platforms (IE for Mac bit the dust back in 2003, after all)".

    Now go for the sale, but do it in a round-about way, by asking a question about their own product as if the reader was considering using it but was fearful. That question is this: "But can I be certain that Microsoft’s offering will work with my Office 365 world? " See how the question is about the fear of Microsoft's product not working with another Microsoft Product? Usually this is stated the other way around, but not here, and it is a sure sign that you're now being sold to.

    The alarm bells had been sounding for awhile by the time I read that "integration between the Microsoft browser and the Office 365 cloud" was "native and seamless". This is designed to instil confidence in the prospect, but to the critical thinker the question "Isn't that the whole idea of browser based applications delivered via the World Wide Web to eliminate the need for tight integration with the underlying OS"? springs to mind. The answer to this is "yes" and the motives to tightly integrate now must be looked at with some suspicion.

    Oh, and one more thing. As far as I can discern there was no "theft" involved when it comes to the subject of Microsoft losing browser dominance on the web. They lost fair and square, and through their own inaction. Google created a better product and supported it equally well on more platforms, including Windows. Microsoft's failure to see the advantage of doing this is telling of their corporate culture, one of vendor lock-in and leverage the installed Windows base at all costs. Asking "what actually is “the browser market” – and is there actually one any more?" illustrates where they want things to go, back to tight OS integration. I think making the browser an integral part of the OS has no upside in the homogeneous World Wide Web, no advantage at all, but for the vendor promoting it there would be much to gain.

    The Internet is a secular place, lets keep the church (the Operating System) separate from the state (the web & web-based apps). I'm not a big fan of renting my software and keeping my data on someone else's machines, I prefer to have a choice, to be able to use both if I want to, or just one if I please. The best one will eventually win out, and I think it will probably be a blend of both, but it doesn't HAVE to be... I'll decide for myself; but only if I'm able.

  31. JLV Silver badge

    How safe is IE?

    I suspect the core browser is relatively safe under most condition. So, not significantly worse than Chrome or Firefox, though not as good as Firefox + anal NoScript.

    However, historically, MS has always pushed tight integration between products/OS/data (weren't we treated to a little HTA-runs-wo-protection-on-Word recently? Very 90s stuff)

    Because of that I don't know if there is enough of a moat between IE or Edge and the underlying Windows OS. I suspect it is way better than in the old days, but I do know that Firefox or Chrome are not treated preferentially by Windows.

    If the browser's protection (and NoScript) fail, there is an extra layer where Windows might possibly/maybe/blue moon catch the attack and I expect that extra layer to be even more porous with IE/Edge because of MS's desire for integration.

    That, and I plain don't like Edge, for example that you have to jump hoops to display a bookmark toolbar by default - I don't want to rely on a search wizard all the time.

    Firefox 1st, Chrome 2nd, Vivaldi 3rd. Edge a very distant 4th.

    I.e. (no pun intended) the Windows Explorer blending into Edge/IE referred to in the article is not a feature in my view, it's symptomatic of extra risks.

  32. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Pale Moon

    Pale Moon.

    No Google spying.

    No MS spying.

    No adblock whitelisting

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All article can be summarized like this:

    Microsoft is using again its browser as a lock-in tool.

  34. sisk Silver badge

    IE and O365 compatibility

    But can I be certain that Microsoft’s offering will work with my Office 365 world?

    Erm...No, actually. Microsoft has broken IE compatibility in O365 at least twice that I know of. That's actually the entire reason we finally added Firefox to our system images around here instead of simply allowing users to install it if they needed it.

  35. This post has been deleted by its author

  36. W. Anderson

    A myopic and unrealistically narrow perspective on Microsoft IE.

    Some admissions of reality have been excluded from Mr. Cartwright's musings.

    One, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Edge browsers have suffered substantially more bugs and breakage than Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. At least if one goes by results of Browser reliability and security reports from credible organizations.

    Two, the author keeps referring to the Microsoft world, which my understanding of his explanation refers almost exclusively to Office365 and onlineMicrosoft applications. This again is inaccurate, since - according to Microsoft, about one third and climbing of their Azure Cloud services are running some distribution of Linux or the FreeBSd operating system (OS) to support Docker Containerization and non-MS applications, that are equally accessible from Chrome, Firefox, Vivaldi, Safari or any other HTML5 browser.

    The European Union, including soon exited Britian, many Asian, South American, a few African countries has "officially" adopted the Open Document Format document standard, via Office suites built to that technology specification (Office breaks that compliance) and available via Cloud based versions.

    Microsoft, nor IE/Edge play any part in that equation, unless the writer's thinking is restricted to USA alone, that is usual position for many technology writers who extrapolate everything here in USA and from Microsoft as being automatically relevant or indispensible to the rest of the (real) world, which is not space between New York and California.

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: A myopic and unrealistically narrow perspective on Microsoft IE. @W. Anderson

      "One, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Edge browsers have suffered substantially more bugs and breakage than Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. At least if one goes by results of Browser reliability and security reports from credible organizations."

      Which organizations are those?

      Judging by cvedetails website MS browsers seem to have less security bugs than Chrome or FF.

    2. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: A myopic and unrealistically narrow perspective on Microsoft IE.

      "One, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Edge browsers have suffered substantially more bugs and breakage than Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. At least if one goes by results of Browser reliability and security reports from credible organizations."

      You have that the wrong way round. Google Chrome and Firefox have had way more vulnerabilities and holes over time than both Edge and IE.

      See for instance

      http://www.cvedetails.com/product/3264/Mozilla-Firefox.html?vendor_id=452

      http://www.cvedetails.com/product/15031/Google-Chrome.html?vendor_id=1224

      and

      http://www.cvedetails.com/product/32367/Microsoft-Edge.html?vendor_id=26

      http://www.cvedetails.com/product/9900/Microsoft-Internet-Explorer.html?vendor_id=26

  37. DougS Silver badge

    People need to stop using fucking Chrome!

    I'm starting to see pages that don't work properly with Firefox and only work when I load them in Chrome. Stupid web developers must be ignoring Firefox, just like they did in the bad old days when IE had most of the market.

    I wish the general public knew how much data Google was stealing from them via Chrome. Given the outrage at the FCC allowing ISPs that collect browsing data there would probably be similar outrage if people knew Google was doing exactly the same thing to them if they used Chrome!

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    It's funny how the governments works...

    Actually it's not, it's very weird at times. Hypocrite even.

    So back in the days Microsoft provided their browser with Windows and that was obviously "bad". Even though having this browser allowed you to immediately grab something else to install if you wanted to.

    Nowadays Google is pushing hard for ChromeOS. An "operating system" which runs fully from the web. Of course you'll need Chrome in order to use all this.

    Now, I realize that you can't fully compare these two examples one on one. But the bottom line is still that Google also provides many services which are only usable (sometimes just better usable) using Chrome instead of another browser. So how is that not "bad" considering the dominance which Google has these days?

  39. Bob Vistakin
    Boffin

    IE will always be needed

    How else can you download Chrome on new Windows installs?

    That's literally the only thing I've used it for this decade.

  40. nilfs2
    Linux

    Linux guy here

    I love the build in Opera's VPN feature, it is becoming my browser of choice, I use Firefox mainly because Ghostery and other add-ons, and Chrome for work related stuff because O365 web version likes Chrome better than the others, O365 works even better on Chrome than on IE/Edge!!.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old Microsoft had a browser

    IE IE O!

  42. Daleos

    Why must there be only one?

    I use IE, Edge, Chrome and Firefox daily, often with two or three open at the same time. I don't care what anyone says, there is no best browser. Each is good at some things and bad at others. IE still has some great Add-Ons I can't find on other browsers, especially, business type ones, Firefox has a load of plugins but it's more clunky than IE these days. Chrome eats more RAM than any other app I have on my laptop. Edge is fast but it's practically useless for as a research portal due to it's dumb 'sharing' features that doesn't even include saving a link as a shortcut or save the file as a html file.

    It doesn't matter if you're running Safari, Chrome, Edge or Firefox, someone somewhere is squirreling data away about your habits. There's no way out of it. You can mitigate it somewhat by obfuscating the data as much as possible. My chosen techniques is to use multiple browsers and use each one for a different task with different logins.

    As a simple example. I've set up my IE with all my work logins and Chrome with all my personal ones.

    Facebook is 'sandboxed' in Opera where it can't interact with anything else. Sorry Opera for relegating you as the babysitter for Facebook but if there's any company that needs constant supervision, it's them.

  43. iansmithedi

    Firefox good for not being tracked and ace plug-ins?

    I love the choice of plug-ins for Firefox on PC. It makes life more bearable. I can "fix" Facebook feed, automatically donate to charity, enlarge pictures by hovering over them, block ads, check my spelling and grammar automatically, download videos from a page, and probably loads more I don't know about.

    The sync between PCs works well too.

    I just don't use it on my phone (yet) as it seemed a bit slow.

    But I like being independent of Microsoft and Google.

  44. FlippingGerman

    Edge

    I used Edge when my SP4 was new, for the first few months. It was OK, but it lacked addons - they're come now, but are a bit rare - and was buggy. I also didn't enjoy it was much; it's noticably slower for some things, like new tabs. It handles touchscreens much better, though, and has faster Flash performance.

  45. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Follow the money

    Google's main source of income is "Big Data" ie: selling your data to other people. Chrome is an excellent way for them to record an even more detailed look at what you do online in much the same way that FB does.

    There doesn't seem to be a perfect web browser, but M$ and Google are at the bottom of the scale.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019