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It’s Time To Stop Blaming Internet Explorer


Earlier this week we published two articles by Louis Lazaris: one on why old browsers are holding back the Web1 and another encouraging Web users to upgrade their browsers and use modern browsers other than IE2. This article presents another perspective on this issue. Nicholas C. Zakas, a well-respected member of the developer community, goes into specifics of why we should focus on the good parts of our job so we can tolerate the bad ones and why fixating on circumstances that you can’t change isn’t a recipe for success. Do you share Louis’ or Nicholas’ view? Leave a comment.—Ed.

A couple of days ago, Smashing Magazine published an article entitled, Old Browsers Are Holding Back The Web. The author of this article, Louis Lazaris, suggests that “old browsers” are holding Web developers back from creating beautiful experiences. Old browsers, in this case, apparently referred to Internet Explorer version 6-9. That’s right, the author groups Internet Explorer 9 into the same group as Internet Explorer 6. He goes on to list some of the things that you can’t use in Internet Explorer 8 and 9.

(Note: Louis Lazaris makes a statement that even although IE9 is a huge step forward from previous versions of Internet Explorer, it’s already missing some of the important features that other modern browsers have and does not have auto-update like other popular browsers do, so it will become outdated relatively soon. According to Microsoft auto-update policy, only those users will be upgraded to a newer version of Internet Explorer that have on automatic updating via Windows Update turned on.—Ed.)

Articles like this frustrate me a lot. For most of my career, I’ve fought hard against the “woe is me” attitude embraced by so many in Web development and articulated in the article. This attitude is completely counterproductive and frequently inaccurately described. Everyone was complaining when Internet Explorer 6 had a 90%+ marketshare. That share has shrunk to 6.3% today globally3 (though Louis cites 0.66%, which is true in the United States). Microsoft even kicked off a campaign to encourage people to upgrade.

I can understand complaining about Internet Explorer 6 and even 7. We had them for a long time, they were a source of frustration, and I get that. I would still never let anyone that I worked with get too buried in complaining about them. If it’s our job to support those browsers then that’s just part of our job. The truth is that every job has some part of it that sucks. Even at my favorite job, as front end lead on the Yahoo homepage, there were still parts of my job that sucked. You just need to focus on the good parts so you can tolerate the bad ones. Welcome to life.

But then the article goes on to bemoan the fact that so many people use Internet Explorer 8 and that Internet Explorer 9 is gaining market share. First and foremost, I would much rather support Internet Explorer 8 then I would 6 and 7. Microsoft forcing most people to upgrade from 6 and 7 to 8 is an incredible move and undoubtedly a blessing.

Internet Explorer 9 Link

Internet Explorer 9, on the other hand, is a damn good browser. The only reason it doesn’t have all of the features as Chrome and Firefox is because they rebuilt the thing from scratch so that adding more features in the future would be easier. Let me say that again: they rebuilt the browser from scratch. They necessarily had to decide what were the most important features to get in so that they could release something and start getting people to upgrade from version 8. If they had waited for feature parity with Chrome or Firefox, we probably still wouldn’t have Internet Explorer 9.

The constant drumming of “Internet Explorer X is the new Internet Explorer 6″ is getting very old. Microsoft has done a lot to try to correct their past transgressions, and it seems like there are still too many people who aren’t willing to let go of old grudges. There will always be a browser that lags behind others. First it was Mosaic that was lagging behind Netscape. Then it was Netscape lagging behind Internet Explorer. Then it was Internet Explorer lagging behind Firefox. People are already starting to complain about Android 2.x browsers.

What makes the Web beautiful is precisely that there are multiple browsers and, if you build things correctly, your sites and applications work in them all. They might not necessarily work exactly the same in them all, but they should still be able to work. There is absolutely nothing preventing you from using new features in your Web applications, that’s what progressive enhancement is all about. No one is saying you can’t use RGBA. No one is holding a gun to your head and saying don’t use CSS animations. As an engineer on the Web application you get to make decisions every single day.

Progressive Enhancement Link

Louis briefly mentions progressive enhancement as a concept that doesn’t even enter into the equation. Once again, this is indicative of an old attitude of Web development that is counterproductive and ultimately lacking in creativity. The reason that I still give talks about progressive enhancement is because it allows you to give the best experience possible to users based on the browser’s capabilities. That’s the way the Web was meant to work. I’ve included a video of that talk below in case you haven’t seen it.

It’s not actually old browsers that are holding back the web, it’s old ways of thinking about the Web that are holding back the Web. Fixating on circumstances that you can’t change isn’t a recipe for success. The number of browsers we have to support, even “old browsers”, just represent constraints to the problems that we have to solve. It is from within constraints that creativity is born4. The Web development community has evolved enough that we should stop pointing fingers at Internet Explorer and start taking responsibility for how we do our jobs. Let’s create solutions rather than continually pointing fingers. We are better than that.

Yes, complaining is useful to get people to listen. Microsoft is listening, so continuing to complain doesn’t do anything except perpetuate an attitude that I would rather not have in Web development. Let’s give them a chance to right the ship without retrying them for past transgressions perpetually.

Footnotes Link

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Nicholas C. Zakas is a principal architect at Box, as well as an author and speaker. He worked at Yahoo! for almost five years, where he was front-end tech lead for the Yahoo! homepage and a contributor to the YUI library. He is the author of Maintainable JavaScript (O’Reilly, 2012), Professional JavaScript for Web Developers (Wrox, 2012), High Performance JavaScript (O’Reilly, 2010), and Professional Ajax (Wrox, 2007). Nicholas is a strong advocate for development best practices including progressive enhancement, accessibility, performance, scalability, and maintainability. He blogs regularly at and can be found on Twitter via @slicknet.

  1. 1

    I must admit, I have caught myself constantly complaining about IE in the past, but you sir, have given me new perspective. Thank you for this eye opening article.

    • 2

      Andreas Møller

      July 12, 2012 3:22 pm

      In that entire post, the only thing i can support is that ie9 actually is a fine browser… i will probably never recommend it, but i have no issues with supporting it.
      On the other hand, the statement that the multitude of browsers is what makes the web beautiful is to me outright stupid. No its not, as a developer you want control over your site, and the difference in browsers are getting in the way of this goal. I dont blame ie 6, or 7, or 8, The problem is not that they exist, its that people still use them.
      I believe that the problem is mainly that we as developers keep supporting them. The average user doesn’t know any thing about browsers, and will not upgrade his browser if things are working just fine. Its on us to tell him that the web has gone under some major maintenance, and he needs a new browser to keep using it.Its an evil circle: We support older browsers because they still have a market share, and they maintain a market share because we keep supporting them.

      When it comes to html5 and css3, I think WWWC has a tendency to overstuff their standards a bit, maybe if half of the html5 features was moved to html6, we would have market wide support by now. We cant really blame the browsers that they are not supporting something that isn’t really a standard yet.

    • 3

      There’s actually one thing, one decision, that Microsoft should have made, and it didn’t: AUTO-UPGRADE the browser.
      Actually that’s the main issue developers have with MS. The fact that IE9, and after being rebuilt from scratch, still does not auto-upgrade, makes it the next IE6. Imagine 5 years from now, where would Chrome and Firefox be? and how many developers would be complaining about people who still use windows 7 and can’t upgrade to IE10 (or just don’t bother upgrading), and how many additional working hours it would mean to make your app IE9 friendly. Microsoft will continue to hold back the web for years to come.
      One decision Microsoft, that would have made all the difference.

      • 4

        As to the Auto-Update thing. People seems to forget that IE is run heavily in the enterprise where the same IT managers want control over what people are running. Auto Update would be a horrible idea in this case. REMEMBER, Microsoft’s main customer base, you know the people who use IE for more than just Facebook and Twitter, are businesses, and they DO NOT upgrade overnight and most certainly do not want their end users automatically updating

        • 5

          You mean as in I just completed the last site upgrade from a client from XP to Win 7?
          “Always at least 1 version behind to get stability”

      • 6

        There are many reasons why users don’t upgrade; inertia is certainly one which can be tackled through education, but there are others, too.

        The richness brought by different browsers, as alluded to by Zakas, is very real. That IE can be so easily embedded in applications – way before Webkit came on the scene – is one reason why the Web has exploded to what it is now. For business to truly embrace the Web, they need the stability that Microsoft offers with IE; rolling out an update, no matter how small, is a major, costly task for an IT team at a corporate. IE, as a Microsoft product, brings confidence with it for corporations.

        And let’s face it – IE9 is a damn fine browser. And you know what? So was IE6 when it launched – it was light years ahead of Netscape Navigator, had almost universal market share and made developer’s lives much easier for a while. It pushed the Web into the mainstream.

        Another ironic thing is that many IE bashers bemoan its proprietary nature. Its market share in the past has made IE a standard in itself, albeit a de facto standard. Let’s not forget that IE’s filters are fore-runners to many CSS3 features. Now that the IE team has embraced W3C standards, there’s a complaint that it isn’t keeping up with proprietary technology!

        IE today brings stability to the market, and forces to truly consider whether the latest whizz-bang feature is truly necessary. If it doesn’t work in IE, or needs a workaround, we have to justify it to ourselves or our clients – which we should surely be able to do with every design decision.

        There is a very dangerous rhetoric being spouted by Lazaris and others. Ironically, the anti-IE voices are threatening innovation and openness – the very things they purport to rally against. IE has brought many great innovations, and MS has wrapped them in a very usable UI – compare with Netscape Navigator before it or even Firefox today; IE can be easily picked up and used by anyone, whereas Firefox still has an element of ‘geek chic’ about it.

        To support IE is to embrace progressive enhancement. Want those curvy corners and multiple backgrounds and geolocation? Go ahead, add them for Webkit-based browsers – but don’t make your entire design dependent upon them. To do that not only excludes IE users, but those of browsers with assistive technology, users of devices with embedded browsers and users who decide to turn some features off (e.g. offline storage, javascript, custom stylesheets and so on). To exclude IE is to enter into a design methodology which will exclude others and do your visitors, customers and yourself a disservice.

      • 7

        This is the core problem. Quick release cycles and browser auto-upgrading (and not through Windows Update either) are absolutely essential for the future sanity of all web developers.

      • 8

        The problem with that is Microsoft has a special responsibility compared to the other vendors: The enterprise. Microsoft gives them a stable set of features. Enterprise wants a stable platform, so Microsoft cannot force a browser to upgrade (although home computers with Windows Updates on, which it is by default, do) for everyone.

      • 9

        Obviously your a web dev, and not an IT administrator at a large company. IT Admins must be in control on the upgrade process in order to ensure that the systems are in a known, working state.

        While I can see the benefit of auto updating software, you must recognize that there are problems that can be introduced, and therefore IT admins must excercise control updates.

    • 11

      I agree that everyone should stop complaining unless they are complaining in the form of a letter of constructive criticism directly to Microsoft. I still do not like IE. It sucks, but I am not worried about it.

      • 12

        Sending letters to Microsoft will not do anything. They have been aware of their terrible browser for years now. Its the fact that they lost market share that they started to take it seriously. One of the reasons they lost market share is because we have either complained about it online or educated people around us about how terrible the browser is and that there are clearly much better options. So they make the switch to another browser AFTER hearing about it.

  2. 13

    I completely and absolutely agree with you Nicholas!

    What’s wrong with old browsers it’s not that they’re out-of-date but how we use them. Sure we had a lot of troubles with IE6 and 7 that lead many of us near suicide but hey, neither the first versions of Firefox were so good as now it is.

    Internet is evolving and we must evolve with it. Progressive enhancement it’s just the first and best thing that we, as web professionals, have to apply to our next project.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I firmly believe that you’re spot on. A death campain against Internet Explorer 6, 7 and perhaps even 8 shouldn’t give us any blame but I must admit that IE9 it’s many step further and so much close to the commonly called “modern browsers”.

    Thanks again. Respect.

  3. 14

    No use crying over spilled milk. But that doesn’t mean that Microsoft doesn’t make poor decisions at every turn.
    I would relate it to StarWars and how it was an important part of my childhood imagination. But now SW was ruined by jarjarbinks and GL’s poor idea of what kids like today. Not to mention the apparent necessity to market said movies to kids. As if their parents had never heard of SW and didn’t know it was awesome. But I have digressed from the start, Microsoft/MS have also been an important part of my upbringing but their software is simply crap and always has been, ever since we had other options. They have good ideas but their implementation of said ideas is always shortsighted and plain lacking.

    That said, I feel like it’s important to have these big companies who make big mistakes so the smaller (or other) companies have something to gauge themselves on. We need a stupid person to make us feel smart.

    • 15

      What we are really talking about here is Microsofts’ poor planning. All of their products have a competitor that makes a better product. The only reason MS is successful is because they made moves first.

      • 16

        That’s not true. Office and Win7 are great software products. Fair enough if you don’t like it but that is far from they are badly made. And no offence, but I find Google docs pretty limited in comparison. “Oh, I want to work on my 20k word dissertation in a coffee shop with no wifi… wait, I can’t”

      • 19

        @alex, it is easy to fling mud at other peoples work and call it poorly designed and crap. Do I love IE and sing it’s praises from the roof top, not at all, I recommend chrome, but with the release of IE9 I am reevaluating that.

        Microsoft is faced with a unique challenge their core mission was originally to deliver the personal PC to every person in the world, and I believe that they have done a great job at this. This also means that their software must meet the needs of every person in the world. Excel revolutionized the way business was done and it is still the defacto standard for business. As of the latest version, things that should be easy, are generally easy. More advanced tasks, take a little learning to do, heaven forbid that an application requires you to understand it.

        Nut I digress the original point of this article is people should stop complaining about things and find solution. A sentiment I agree with completely. I am not a fan of Apple, as at my core I am software developer. This does not mean that I ignore them, I find ways around the issue that work for me and my users, I really like XenApp server as it is really good for this. I work in the world of enterprise software and could easily dictate that everyone use windows, but that is not professional. I find this even more true on the web, were as a professional it is our job to support our users and the technology they embrace. We can make suggestions, recommendation or pleas at times, but ultimately, if we want their usage and/or business we must meet them were they decide to meet us, sometimes that is IE6, but i still cherish the opportunity to server their needs.

      • 20

        Why do you down vote this post? – It’s simply true.

    • 21

      Can you explain: “But that doesn’t mean that Microsoft doesn’t make poor decisions at every turn” and “their software is simply crap and always has been”. I find that hard to believe, you must be misinformed. This post is not even about companies! Your comment is just wrong.

      • 22

        Are you saying you like IE? Microsoft made it and its simply crap, the same with Word, or WIndows, Outlook, or ANYTHING else they make, while it is sometimes a great idea, it’s usually created with very poor standards. So MS has created a lot of software that was great in theory and first on the market. If you compare any of their products to their competitors, you will see that the ONLY reason MS is more successful is because they had the idea first and not because their product is better. MS Office vs Google Documents, Outlook vs Gmail, IE vs Chrome, etc., etc., etc.

        • 23

          For one thing: I don’t use IE, I’m a Chrome fan. I use IE for dev purposes.
          Second: You’re argument of “Microsoft makes bad products therefore IE is bad” is just wrong. MS does some pretty good things too (SQL Server is damn good, Win 7 is the fastest selling OS ever, the Xbox is a raging success) but my point is all of that does not matter here! Have you even used IE9? Have you seen the demos from ? Everything there is comparable to most webkit demos.

          PS: Just because you don’t like MS products doesn’t mean they are badly made. Outlook for instance is way better than anything out there as email management, RSS reader, automatic journal entry, calendar, tasks, reminders etc. all in one.

        • 24

          so? don’t you think that creating the great ideas first, even when the first tries are crap, is not valuable???… you can’t compare MS Office ’cause MSO was born 15 years ago (or more) and GDocs has… how much? 3? 4? Dunno.. And MS right now is pretty damm good, dont you think, its quite easy, and powerful!
          I know that MS has been wrong for several years, the whole period between (but not including) XP and Seven, was a black hole in Microsoft, but now we have IE9, we have W7, we have Office (again, the last ones were pretty good..). And even when MS is throwing W8 to the garbage, it’s having a change of mind, in how it deals with us, the users, and with us, the developers.
          So, if you stop hating, and if you are capable of being objective.. you ‘ll see that not everything is black in MS..

          And, NO, what we are talking about is about how we cry and blame our surroundings, for things WE KNOW we have to do.. Thats all! I, personally, think that this is right… until IE6.. GOD i hate it so much!!!! (and IE7 is not far away, either..)

        • 25

          Dominik Marczuk

          July 12, 2012 11:48 am


          I wouldn’t go that far into criticism against Microsoft. Windows 7 is a really good OS, no matter what Tim Cook and Linus Torvalds would want you to think. It’s stable, it’s easy to use, it’s relatively fast, although resource-hungry. Outlook can’t really be compared to webmail clients. I would rather you invoked Thunderbird (which I do consider to be better, by the way). MS Office vs. Google Docs comparison shares the same defect. But even if you want to compare these two, you really do have to realise that the feature set of Google Docs is just plain LIMITED in comparison to any desktop solution, not necessarily MS Office. And that’s not because it sucks as a piece of software, but rather due to the technologies used to develop it. A web app will never be comparable to a desktop app, period. Plus, have you seen the “Googlighting” video made by MS? It’s mostly a joke, but it presents a really valid point: Google Docs’ feature set can change at any moment and the licence is a laugh. Do you know Google owns your docs? How about the Docs to Drive upgrade that’s soon going to happen? Oh, I don’s suppose you’ve tried using Google Docs with your router down, have you?

          That being said, I do agree IE browsers are deficient and SHOULD be complained about. They’re not standards-compliant, buggy, they require additional work that would otherwise let us developers have more spare time (for the same money!), they can’t be installed under Linux or OSX.

          IMO, one of the things that impedes “normal” development of IE is Microsoft’s zero bugs policy. A new piece of software is released when all bug reports have been dealt with. That means prolonged periods between new releases. That in turn means incorporating new features is slow and by the time they make it to the new product, they’re commonplace among the competition. Tough luck for us.

          My recipe for success: support IE8, add a nice black “IE7 and earlier are not supported” screen for the older versions. Example: That keeps *MY* clients happy and I don’t work extra hours ;).

        • 26

          Hey Alex,
          If you hate Microsoft, say like it is. Don’t throw garbage.

          — @ “MS Office vs Google Documents, Outlook vs Gmail, IE vs Chrome, etc., etc., etc.”

          So you are actually comparing Desktop Products with Web Based Products? Isn’t this what people call “Comparing Apples with Oranges”.

          — @ the same with Word, or WIndows, Outlook, or ANYTHING else they make

          So you are saying that “Word and Outlook”, two of the most widely used applications are crap. Try re-evaluating your definition of “Crap”.

          • 27

            Hey together!

            Well i think what alex is trying to tell is (its at least how i think about this IE-story):

            Microsoft had a lot of good ideas at first. Its just a fact. As some people already said, they never reached a nice and perfect implementation when they throw their software etc. on market. The Software is okay but was always complicated to handle.
            I think i know what im talking about cause i used/use several OS like Windows7, Linux/Ubuntu and iOS. When I was young i started at first with windows in the mid 90s. As long as you dont know anything else you wont miss anything of course.
            The first time i was using Ubuntu and iOS i was trying to do things in the way i know from windows (i.e. installing software, handle the OS etc etc etc…) i really was wondering as i saw how much easier it is and how smoothly everything works.
            As i began to do some webdevelopment i got “behind the scenes” of the most used browsers which was the point i was starting to have one question all along: “why is microsoft/IE not fu***** able to develope a browser which doesnt need some special fixes all the time.”
            I mean they obviously wanted to be something special (as almost every brand). But the way they do it is just a “negative speciality”. I never heard someone talking about IE like “wow, this is really cool, did you see the new feature………….”
            IE is just not up-to-date. I dont know much about the IE10. But in the past everytime there was a release of IE, all other browsers were much closer to the future because they think ahead. But IE was just adepted to present standarts. This is why i also think IE is holding back the web. It was one of the first and one of the best browsers as we all know but sometimes it looks like they use this as main argument for their work.
            Nevertheless i hope and wish that IE will become a strong and powerfull browser again :)

            I hope you wont be angry about my little superficial knowledge. What i wrote is just my personal impression and view of the things. So i also apologize about some mistakes in my grammar and words.
            conclusion: no one’s perfect ^^

          • 28

            Just because something is ubiquitous doesn’t mean it’s particularly good. Windows is a vehicle for Office. Windows is dominates both enterprise and consumer spaces primarily because there hasn’t ever really been a strong competitor (still isn’t). It follows that whatever Microsoft puts in front of their users is going to greatly benefit from their market dominance. These products don’t have to innovate or compete on merit, they win simple by virtue of being Microsoft products on the already dominant Microsoft platform. Until very recently this was the case with ie too.

            Office is a shiny, complex piece of crap. Outlook too.

  4. 29

    Hi Nicholas,

    Completely agree with you. People just look for an excuse to complaint. I remember the same thing about IE > 9. Every year we hear the same over and over. Flash is another example of people repeating what they hear. Also, there are people that go even further complaining about Firefox for example, because the browser is not supporting a CSS3 feature that Chrome already has. This is just ridiculous!

  5. 30

    Nice reading, but doesn’t change the fact that Microsoft doesn’t have motivation (money!) for creating better browsers, and ie9 is shit. “they rebuilt the browser from scratch” you said in bold, and yet they are doing exactly the same mistakes all over again, there’s nothing on this world can justify that. writing an article for sake of saying something different than others doesn’t change that fact, does it?

    • 31

      How do you know this? “Microsoft doesn’t have motivation (money!) for creating better browsers, and IE9 is shit”.
      Microsoft have been developing IE at a loss but still make big improvements. You should know if you actually used IE9 instead of following the masses. IE9 is quite good and in some regards better than other browsers.

      PS: Google is making Chrome out of motivation (or as you say it: money) to gain more users (i.e. more ads i.e. more money).

      • 32

        Microsoft’s demotivation from doing “right” browser is coming from mindset of the company,
        It’s not “seen” as a direct source of revenue, therefore they do not waste time on it, one step further, they actually thought that, if they update incrementally and fix bugs on existing browsers, it will hurt them, therefore they JUST released major versions over 6.

        And, please, before asking “how do I know”, think yourself, justify why do you need to upgrade whole operating system to get ie9.

        • 33

          And how is Google Chrome a “direct source of revenue”? They just care more about us, sure… it’s not about the money, like in any company.

          I don’t think IE6 doesn’t have automatic updating because MS don’t want us to have it, that’s silly. They don’t have it cause it was 2001 when it was released and nobody though of it. Google learned from them what a pain it is to upgrade and offered a browser with automatic updates. You know… much later, after we learned about it. Great move I might say and easier to do than change existing software.

          With your logic might as well blame [some random pharmaceutical company] for not having the cure for cancer today.

          As for “justify why do you need to upgrade whole operating system to get ie9” I want to say that there could be a lot of reasons. Maybe the hardware acceleration is not possible on XP, maybe the install needs some specific configuration, maybe … who knows. And who cares, why wouldn’t you upgrade your 10 year old OS. You update your computer every 2 years anyway, and all new computers have the latest OS.

          • 34

            @Will, I’m sorry buddy, but when you said “Google just cares more about us… it’s not about the money” I had to throw my head back and give a good “hahahahahah…”.

            Points to make note of that you were actually accurate on: Microsoft and other PCs have pioneered things like digital Word documents and Internet browsers. The software worked at the time, but how do people EXPECT it to transcend 15+ years? The answer is it shouldn’t. To me, this warrants something to COMPLAIN about. Google has not done anything new or innovative in these fields. They took what everyone else has already done, and applied a big budget on making it better than the competition. Believe it or not, Google has a knack for not being original.

            IE has been a terrible browser for two decades, and with a company budget that Microsoft has that IS SOMETHING TO COMPLAIN about. Others have complained they “have listened”, and you’re partially right. Again, it took them two decades of still trying to shove proprietary browsers at us to realize this. Being a front end developer for the majority of my life I can attest that developing for IE browsers has not been a pleasant experience.

            Rant being said, I do look forward to future releases of the IE browser and DO think Microsoft is coming around. But that does not mean I don’t have the right to complain about the time I wasted dancing around their crappy old browsers.

            People hold less of a grudge then you think, its just a matter of budgets, deadlines, and accommodations that had to be made. As people are wising up to browsers, IE will have to compet or else their market share will disappear.

          • 35

            And how is Google Chrome a “direct source of revenue”? They just care more about us, sure… it’s not about the money, like in any company.

            LOL what?!

            You don’t seriously believe that do you? SMH

          • 36

            I’m sorry, maybe some people don’t get sarcasm… I should explain.
            My point was to address the previous fact “Microsoft doesn’t want users to upgrade their browser because they don’t make money out of it”. Read the whole thread again please (maybe add a sarcastic tone).

    • 37

      Bing as the default search on every installation of IE? Seems like the motivation (money!) is right there.

  6. 38

    I hate to admit it, sometimes you can build something that works cross browser, but check IE6 or 7 and it’s broken. And it’s broken because IE6/7 is rightly unforgiving with your HTML. I find that new browsers try to fix your HTML for you, remove tags that are broken, or styles that are in correct (noticed when checking HTML via firebug). And fixing it in IE6 helps other browsers.

    And i have found fixes in IE6 are generally only { _display:inline; } to get it working. Keeping HTML and CSS clean and simple for the most part will work cross browsers with little hacks required. Not all websites need to be HTML5 showcases.

    But I still wish IE would crawl into a corner and die.

    • 39

      Completely agree, a lot of problems coming from IE6/7 are to do with bad code, and even when problems do arise, it’s not that difficult to fix, like you said, just using { _display:inline; } works a treat.

      • 40

        Right and you would know because ?

        if your css dates back to 1947, sure there’s no problem with IE 6 7 , same for your js.

        Indeed, if you try to do nothing but html1.0, those browsers are just fine.

        We’re in 2012, css3 html5 ajax are the core web technologies, and they don’t work properly on ANY internet explorer version.

        • 41

          HTML5 and CSS3 are fringe at this point, not core. They aren’t standards. Microsoft is doing us all a favor by waiting a bit to get the standards right, rather then experimental features that have a good chance of changing.

          Besides, it all depends on the scope of your project. If I’m doing an experimental site for myself, yes I can play around and whine about MS’s lack of features.

          If I’m doing a site for a politician (which I have recently) I’m going to go to the standard, HTML4 and CSS2 which is accepted and works across almost all browsers.

          • 42

            Well good for you, I’m not in websites but in applications that use a browser as thin client, that fact makes V8’s speed extremely relevant, and almost every single feature that chrome offers useful.

            Now what you don’t seem to realize is that your html4/css2 is an inferior choice driven by compatibility issues, as believe me your site would be much better and cleaner if it was 5/3 instead.

            So why not take an active part in the ecosystem, offer chrome frame to ie users and use modern stuff so we can ALL move forward and eventually have a decent programming experience around the web tool.

          • 43

            “I’m going to go to the standard, HTML4 and CSS2 which is accepted and works across almost all browsers.”

            tell me more about “almost” please,
            pleeeeeezzzeeee enlight us, what is “almost”?

            doing a favor eh?

    • 44

      I have to disagree. For a long time i made intranet apps that only had to work on IE, and in fact they did only work on IE, after each IE upgrade I made changes to support the new IE, and… suddenly other browsers almost fully work without additional effort. That means that IE6 was indeed reading code incorrectly. It also means that IE9 is nothing like IE6! I am really happy to have IE9 today, even though I would prefer if it supported some stuff that other browsers already do, and if it would upgrade automatically to IE10, and if IE10 and IE11… would come out faster.

      Bottom line: IE9 is very good, very easy to support. IE6 was not rightly unforgiving with your HTML.

      • 45

        Good points. IE6 was ok for when it first came out, it wasn’t the best but it worked for the internet at the time. The problem with it was how long its life-cycle lasted, that’s all. The problem was less with IE and more with companies adopting standards like banks and insurance agencies making proprietary “IE only” applications. This is what caused The Great IE6 Depression as I call it.

      • 46

        “and if IE10 and IE11… would come out faster.”

        This is nitpicking, and nothing against you, but it annoys me that people think you can’t upgrade/add features to software without adding a major version number. Why couldn’t it just be 10, 10.1, 10.1.5, 10.2, etc? As long as the upgrades come, who cares about the major version number? Shouldn’t that be reserved for large overhauls?

        • 47

          You read what he wrote wrong, Zach. He mentioned he wanted automatic version downloading, implying users would get the browsers and features faster.

          • 48

            I’m not disagreeing with auto downloading. I just nitpicked one line about versions.

    • 49

      When I discover something is broken in IE6/7, I first look to see if it’s bad code, and often I can make the code valid and fix its appearance in old browsers in one stroke. But sometimes it doesn’t work, and I end resorting to browser specific hacks (like the _display:inline you mentioned).

      This doesn’t mean old IE browsers are actually better at enforcing good code – it does just as much as any browser to try to render pages with mistakes. The reason why it is different is because old browsers have inconsistent methods of rendering bad code.

      In HTML5, there are guidelines for how browsers should render bad code. This is a huge improvement, in my opinion, because it separates browser compatibility from code validation. The best way to make sure code error free is still to validate it – seeing how code fails in various old browsers is not a precise way to find coding errors, and a it’s a pain.

  7. 50

    Might be aging myself here, but, we use to have to provide an alternative for those who did not have Flash. No one does that now (well a really low percentage if there are people who do do that). I see this all the time because I have a browser without Flash installed for testing purposes.

    People don’t use the no script tag either. They just assume everyone has scripting turned on.

    Using hacks is not the solution either. When we went from IE6 to IE7 there were tonnes of VIP sites that were broken.

    Showing notes like “Get a real browser” just send people away. Designers and developers need to understand that not everyone that uses the net is a Geek, hence they don’t have the latest greatest browser or other “cool” stuff.

  8. 51

    “Let me say that again: they rebuilt the browser from scratch.”

    So? IE9 has made gains, but from a rendering/standards support angle (which in my opinion is the only area that matters in this kind of discussion, just saying before someone goes “Hardware acceleration!11”) it is where other browsers were a few years ago. IE9 deserves to be lumped in with those other browsers.

    Why did they feel the need to rebuild their engine from scratch… why not just use WebKit? It’s vanity. IE9 could have been where other browsers are TODAY as opposed to 2-3 years ago. And this attitude that we’re supposed to just forgive and forget because they made some changes is really harmful I think. It took a long time to give IE the stink that it has and it is extremely well earned. If we start muddling the message now and telling people IE is okay again, we’re putting ourselves in a vulnerable position where IE could gain back marketshare and Microsoft could get complacent again. Furthermore, what exactly has Microsoft done to earn this forgiveness? It took them losing an extreme amount of marketshare to even make this effort. It’s too little, too late. Their other fix was to put out a condescending ad campaign to try to shame people into silence about how crappy IE is: (Trigger warning: this might make you rage)

    “…just represent constraints to the problems that we have to solve. It is from within constraints that creativity is born.”

    This statement almost makes me physically ill. This completely washes away all the pains and ridiculous hacks and workarounds that developers/designers have had to use because of IE over the years. Remember when you couldn’t even use alpha transparency in a PNG without installing some convoluted library? We worked with these “constraints” for far too long, and we had no choice. You sound like someone with Stockholm Syndrome.

    The move to html5 and css3 has been so long and difficult for modern browsers, and even now I still can’t write standards based semantic markup without having to worry about installing a bunch of workarounds for IE.

    This still affects me on every single project I do. I’m so sick of it. I’ve been making websites since 2005 and “will it work in IE? How can I cascade these fixes to each specific browser?” has been something I’ve had to think about on every single project I’ve ever done. If IE ever moves into a space where that’s no longer an issue, then maybe we can start talking about not complaining about IE anymore. But guess what? Nobody will be complaining then.

    • 52

      You should be ashamed as a developer. Basically, you’re saying “I don’t like part of my job and I wish it would go away”. Grow up, of course there are things that we don’t like. You know what? Don’t support it!
      Besides, Webkit is not perfect and one of the reasons it’s so good and getting better is because of competition. There would be no Chrome upgrades if everyone used Chrome.

      • 53

        “Basically, you’re saying “I don’t like part of my job and I wish it would go away”.”

        Nope, I’m saying it shouldn’t be part of my job. That’s the whole point. Being a web designer/developer should mean being able to write standards compliant code and have it work, barring perhaps a few experimental effects that maybe use vendor prefixes. IE is the main reason that is not a reality, period. I don’t get what your argument here is, that because things are this way we aren’t supposed to dislike them/want them to change?

        “You know what? Don’t support it!”

        That’s not always a viable option when working for clients or for an employer. Hence the sentence “We worked with these “constraints” for far too long, and we had no choice.”

        Your counter argument seems to be “Suck it up” instead of actually addressing problems. My criticisms are valid and this is a real problem, and that isn’t a valid response. Collectively as an industry we’ve been sucking it up for a very long time.

        • 54

          So vendor prefixes are ok even if they work differently from the industry standards but you get mad if you have to implement hacks for a 10 year old browser when your job requires you to? It’s 10 years old! Of course it needs hacks.
          And btw, I don’t use IE, I use Chrome. Complaining about it is ok but saying we should scrap it completely instead of finding solutions is just not the way forward.

          • 55

            I qualified my support for vendor prefixes. I’m okay with them being used to test out experimental implementations of features from new standards.

            Regarding fixing for IE, you might have a compelling point if IE6 wasn’t seen as a bad browser only a few years after its release. That also doesn’t explain how 7 and 8 (and 9) were bad too. When I said that fixing for a browser specific rendering problem wasn’t my job, I was talking on a large scale. Every engine does have its quirks, and every so often I will have to fix something for Gecko but it is rare and usually limited to one issue. And it doesn’t happen on every single project.

            It’s their job to make a rendering engine that conforms to standards. This has never been about one or two issues when you code a page, it’s about viewing your page in IE and it being completely broken. Yes, you learn to avoid certain things to save you grief as time goes on, but what kind of awful habit is that? Forming code habits based on a bug in a rendering engine that wasn’t fixed because Microsoft had a bad attitude/awful release cycle?

            “Complaining about it is ok but saying we should scrap it completely instead of finding solutions is just not the way forward.”

            Actually, scraping old programs in favor of new ones has to be the way forward. For IE in general, until they produce a product that is truly on par with competitors in a rendering sense, AND manage to keep up for a length of time, it should still be considered a problem.

            And frankly, the evidence doesn’t point to Microsoft being willing/able to do that. The fact that they’re touting HTML5 support as a feature despite lacking very basic stuff and that you can’t get it on XP doesn’t show that they truly get it.

          • 56

            I give you that. Their life cycle is awful and not having automatic upgrades is even worse.

            However your taking it to the extreme. Yes, IE6 is bad and 7, and 8. But IE9 is comparable to other browsers with a good browsing experience. Plus IE10 is coming this fall. There is no reason to go ‘all webkit’. That was the problem with IE6:

          • 57

            Oh and btw, IE6 rocked when it was released. Just how webkit rocks now.

        • 58

          “It shouldn’t be part of my job” Do you pay yourself? If not, you don’t get to decide what should be part of your job. Your job is to support whatever browsers your employer/client tells you to. If this is too hard or too demeaning for you, go find an employer/client dumb enough to let your personal preferences dictate how they spend their money. Failing that, try digging ditches.

          • 59

            Congratulations on completely missing the point. A browser is supposed to ship with support for the standards, that is the job of the people who develop it. A few quirks here and there are fine, but IE has completely missed the mark consistently for over a decade.

            My job is to write clean, semantic code according to the same standard that the browser is supposed to abide by. It shouldn’t be having to continually make up for the failings of a rendering engine. That’s what I mean by that phrase that you so delicately cherry picked.

            Also I love how you’re acting like I’m entitled for wanting to spend my time writing clean, modern code without having to worry about supporting a browser that is 5 or 10 years old. That’s right, it is my moral failings instead of the colossal failings of Microsoft. Also your implication that this is simply a “personal preference” (and a weird one at that) is pure gaslighting.

            It may have been the case in the early 2000s and before that browsers rendered wildly differently, but it is not so anymore. Rendering engines may have their minute differences, but the vast majority of what anybody writes will render correctly in Gecko and WebKit. This is not the case even with the most current Trident iteration.

          • 60

            Steve (Ballmer) Jones over here definitely thinks in profits over innovation. You are what’s wrong with the web development world. I bet you’re one of those “everyone gets a trophy for trying” kinds of people. By your logic, we shouldn’t be using Vista or Windows 7 because our clients should dictate how we work and clearly they don’t care about development STANDARDS. I personally believe all contractors should include an IE tax “You need this website to work with non-HTML5 compliant browsers, +8%”.

          • 61

            Marcello di Simone

            July 12, 2012 5:25 pm

            If that’s the way you would describe your job, at least ask your employer to place your desk on a cotton field and to give you a nice whipping from time to time.

    • 62

      Thanks Daniel, that’s exactly my point of view.

    • 63

      In a way I agree with you. I’ve been doing it since 1993 (Geocities woohoo) and can tell you you’re always going to be dealing with this.

      The best way to get around it is:

      1) Stop trying to make the site look the “exact same” in every browser.
      2) Stop showing the client photoshop mockups. If you do this then they’re going to expect the design to look “exactly” like this.
      3) Present your concepts/mockups in the browser. Send them the link and let them look for themselves.
      4) Offer an adaptive style sheet, and show them the site adjusting itself on an iphone/android/tablet.
      5) Educate your clients about why using new technology and “forgiving” the slight differences in older browsers is a good idea.

      Once you get over the “exact” thing, you’ll be much happier and more productive.

      • 64

        Completely agree with your points, Ian!

      • 65

        My current “solution” is a perfectly gorgeous version in chrome, that is usually very fast to port to firefox, and then a “bugfix css” for internet explorer, that is more or less ugly compared to the chrome version, but just works.

        I think it’s fair to have crappy support on crappy browsers, i’d even go as far as calling it graceful degradation.

  9. 66

    IE is like a zombie for me. Dead looong ago and still crawling. Every time I see the IE logo or worse-case I have to start this “browser” I remember: Isn’t there a W3C standard? And WHY is there a standard? Ok IE 6… it was the “early” web. But IE 7, 8, 9, even 10 and 11 the number doesn’t matter. They never fit the standard.

    I love to design and programm websites, it sometimes was a big challange to get the right results for every browser. Now we have another challange to fit all devices. For customers you have to optimize the site for every modern browser, that’s no question. But I’m soooo tired to put my time in the website for some annoying IE fixes, workarounds or hacks. Sorry but this is no (modern) browser for me. Who drives a car whitout wheels? You stuck all the time but you still have this car more then 10 years?

    I did not know they build IE from scratch – makes me even more laugh. In our business, technology is growing and changing very fast. Now tell me how can such a crappy product survive that long? I know because of the “PC evolution” a lot of IE’s are out there, and still a lot of IE version 6. They loose their market share, thankfully. Do you have another reason for that?

  10. 67

    The fact of the matter is, as designers we must work with all manner of browsers in order to give our clients the best possible audience for their sites. If my client says a large part of their audience uses IE6 – so be it …

  11. 68

    Hi ! First of all, thanks for the read, and for the last 2 or 3 articles on SmashingMag, they were such good writes. SmashingMag, keepin’ up the good work. ;)

    Secondly, even if I understand your (Nicholas C. Zakas) point of view, we must admit that *the* browser which is constantly pissing us off since the dawn of web is Internet Explorer, whatever version. It used to be IE6, or even IE7, and sooner or later it will be IE8 or IE9.

    But actually I’m not blaming Microsoft for those browsers, because they use to be good browsers in the past, right. I’m blaming Microsoft for their poor and not future-proof way of managing their products.

    The fact is that every Internet Explorer version is made to stay for like 10 years (IE6 launched in 2001), and that’s the problem, especially in an age where you get lost or outdated after a few months of inactivity.

    Internet Explorer is the only major browser which has 5 completly different versions on the way. If no mistake, Firefox has 2 major versions (3.6 and 4+), Chrome has only one, Opera has 2 (11- and 12), and Safari has 2 as well (4 and 5). And 5 for IE (6, 7, 8, 9, 10), each one with its own bug, and its own support of every single feature.

    And finally that is the problem. Not Microsoft browsers but Microsoft policy. Microsoft should auto-updates their browser so there is no more IE6, no more IE7, no more IE8, and soon no more IE9 (even if I have to admit IE9 is not a bid deal to deal with for now, but it will in the future).
    This is the way product policy should be handle : when you build a product clearly superior to the old one, either you update the old one, or you take it back from sell (or acquisition).

    So Internet Explorer is clearly holding back the web, but not necessarly because of its lack of features, because of its lack of updates.
    Having said that, the Internet Explorer’s team seems to be slower to build up new features into their browser. I don’t say they suck, I’m just saying they look slower than other browsers’ teams. Even if IE10 looks great, it’s clearly way behind Chrome or Firefox latest. But, that’s not the point. :)

    See you !

    Edit : oh, by the way, sorry if there are some mistakes in my post: I’m French. :)

  12. 69

    Vincenzo Acinapura

    July 12, 2012 8:42 am

    People that made Internet Explorer 8 demonstrated not to be good software engineers (or, perhaps working at Microsoft makes software engineers dumb). That number of bugs and incorrect interpretations of the standards is not acceptable.

    It is normal, as you said, that people complains about a mediocre piece of software. But I think is not normal for a software house to keep that software around for 10 years. That’s the point. 6% of the Internet (including clients I work for) is still using IE6, sorry, for me this fact is enough to hate Internet Explorer (and people using it) for the rest of my life. Luckily every remaining browser on the market is better.

    @Daniel: Stockholm Syndrome. That’s Right.

  13. 70

    You say that “..if you build things correctly, your sites and applications work in them all. They might not necessarily work exactly the same in them all, but they should still be able to work.”. Then, think about text/box shadows, rounded corners, PNG transparencies and many other things that force developers to implement hacks (even so, it doesn’t look the same), because they are simply not supported in IE < 9, not to mention sluggish Javascript performance.
    That translates into many development hours. The logical option would be to offer a 30% discount in exchange of dropping support for older browsers, and that's something I'm considering seriously.
    Admiteddly, IE9 is somewhat better, but the adoption rate is very slow, as it runs only with Vista and newer OSs, and a lot of people still uses XP, and they will not upgrade until buying new hardware.

  14. 71

    I admit I spent years trash-talking Internet Explorer in its stagnant phase, but I was quick to take back my scathing remarks once 9 and the 10 beta were released. They’re not perfect, but they’re colossal upgrades from 8, and they even have some advantages other browsers lack.

    The problem with 9 and 10 is that all those millions of people who don’t upgrade to Windows 7 are stuck with IE8, which isn’t enough because, though much better than 6 or 7, its limitations are still quite challenging to code against. IE upgrades are free, but Windows upgrades certainly are not; however, Firefox is still available for Windows XP SP3, and the last time I checked, Opera worked as far back as Windows 2000, so if you’re still using Windows XP, I will recommend a non-IE browser. It’s quite frustrating to have to cater to people who use 10-or-more-year-old operating systems, but that’s still the reality for many of my clients, since I often work with tradespeople and Mom-and-Pops who have older systems.

    Many people have taken this IE hate too far, though, and made it personal. Microsoft apologised and made better browsers after 6 and 7, so let’s let the past be the past.

    • 72

      I completely agree and I have met many developers who simply don’t want to see or hear anything about Internet Explorer, simply to go with the masses. They say “Chrome is not perfect but that’s understandable because it’s Chrome. IE9 and 10 are a huge improvement but it’s too little because it’s IE.”

      • 73

        Get back to modern tech, you’ll realize that even if ie9 is 10 years better than ie 7 8 whatever, it’s still 5 years behind chrome, as firefox is 2 or 3 years behind chrome as well.

        IE is still not on the same scale as ff / chrome, and ff is getting worse by the year, as if all the talent had left for webkit, or as if someone had paid mozilla to turn it into the next IE.

    • 74

      For me, this highlights the real problem with Internet Explorer. Regardless of how much better 9 or 10 may be (which they are), IE is built by a company who’s real interest is selling Windows and Windows-related products. With XP still holding around 30% market-share, their decision to not allow IE 9/10 upgrades is really holding back the web. As they continue to release new versions of their OS, I simply can’t trust that current Vista users might be stuck on IE 10 or Windows 7 users might eventually be stuck at IE 12 if they choose not to upgrade. There’s an obvious conflict of interest here and Microsoft is clearly doing what’s best for them, not the web in general.

  15. 75

    I was wondering whether someone will voice out the counter arguments for those two articles earlier by Mr.Louis. It has been a great educative read for a budding developer like me. And yes I agree with you that with constraints the true creativity is born.

  16. 76

    Great article and thank you for taking a stand against all the IE bashing going on around here. I sincerely hope developers and designers adopt the perspective you’re talking about and stop with the incessant whining. Back in the day I used to be a huge IE6 basher … some of the most colorful insults in our team were reserved for IE6 … but now I take everything in stride.

    If you’re using a framework, writing clean CSS and not trying anything groundbreaking, supporting old browsers really isn’t that hard.

  17. 77

    “Why fixating on circumstances that you can’t change isn’t a recipe for success.”

    I agree, but I may disagree on how to alleviate that fixation. Some parts of your article suggest one should stop complaining and just accept things, even if one of those things is supporting IE6. I think one should stop complaining, too. But I think they should find closure and relief through the act of dropping support for browsers that have aged beyond the point of reason. Not every developer will agree that IE6 has gotten to that point, but I feel that that is because that sect of people never will. IE6 could a quarter of a century old. If even 10 people were still using it, those developers will look down on anyone who doesn’t factor it into their projects.

    “I would still never let anyone that I worked with get too buried in complaining about them. If it’s our job to support those browsers then that’s just part of our job.”

    Keyword: IF. Just borrowing from my comment on one of those older articles: “Base it on each case. Are you making something a lot of people at some company will visit? People stuck in some Microsoft intranet where IE6 is all they can use? Or are you making an online store for a local car decal shop that would be fine and dandy without IE6 support? In the end, it depends. It depends more on the site, whom it’s for, and who will be visiting it most.” In short, I don’t agree that IE6, or maybe even 7, should be supported just because even 1 person on the planet uses them or just because they exist at all. One group of developers will say I’m being a disservice to the profession, another will say I’m trying to express tough love to put the final bullet into a a browsers that’s so old that continuing to support it goes from lingering dedication to bordering on ocd. Both sides have a point.

    • 78

      I still get people with an ie 5.5 user agent hitting my website… should we be developing for them too?

  18. 79

    Jesse Kivivuori

    July 12, 2012 8:51 am

    Have to say that this was good reading in a while.

    I totally agree and this article reinforce my opinion for IE. I must say that I have agreed IE existence a long time. I dropped IE7 support a while ago because the lack of border-box(of course there is a polyfill for that but it’s kinda dirty approach). It’s THE feature that make me as a developer a happy developer. IE8 can handle it so then I can tolerate IE8.
    When I develop I first make it work with Chrome. Last thing I do I check site with IE and ad few fixes to the layout if needed. If I have border-radius etc. and it lacks on IE8, I will not take that much pressure on.

  19. 80

    One thing I don’t see mentioned often in these articles is the corporate aspects of upgrading, I’ve been in several big companies that are bound to old versions of browsers as they have apps developed by contractors that only work with something like IE6. There generally isn’t budget to replace these as they may have expensive in the first place, and corporate interests don’t really care about web standards as employees are at their desks to work. Even if an employee is allowed something like Chrome on their desktop, they’re still using IE primarily.

  20. 81

    I agree, but only in part. I think that a big frustration (and part of the problem) that hasn’t been fully discussed, is the idea that clients and marketing hacks are perpetuating the problem…

    I still have would-be clients and wannabe marketers sending through briefs for, “A pixel-perfect, web 2 design for 1024×768 screens.” And, no matter how much you try and educate them about current best practices and trends, they often just want what they want. Worse still, when they get it, the certainly don’t want to have to pay more for it (responsive design, for example).

    We can’t expect to sit and b*tch, moan and complain on a designer/developer-only forum like Smashing – that doesn’t often see any readers from outside the community – if we’re going to educate the general public about where the web is going.

    Start educating clients, marketers and users on their level. Big name players like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Amazon and the like have only made very small steps towards muscling users onto newer browsers – but they can’t afford to lose revenue (neither can Yahoo, Teylor) so they keep supporting them.

    Start offering users real incentives to move to newer browsers, rather than the promise of “a better web experience” – they don’t know any better. A couple of folk have already started doing this on e-commerce stores with “modern browser coupons”.

    I don’t know. I just don’t think that this is necessarily the forum for the conversation anymore…

  21. 82

    “they rebuilt the browser from scratch” – Seriously, who cares. If I built a browser from scratch and it was equal to an old version of Firefox(Firefox 2), no one would give me credit for making a sub-standard browser, it would first have to equal the other browsers before I would receive any recognition. IE9 hasn’t done this and they don’t deserve recognicion for that. “Oh IE! Well done for being one of the earliest browsers and almost catching up to the rest of the modern browsers, you’ve done a really great job!”

    I don’t complain about IE7+ as browsers any more since it’s trite. I will support them and find ways to do the impossible, however, LTE IE9 aren’t modern browsers.

  22. 83

    I admit that Microsoft has come along way with ie and I can’t wait for it to fully compete in regards to standards with other modern browsers, heck I even hope that ie becomes the most awesome browser ever, because truth is that would make my life much easier… but…

    You said, “No one is saying you can’t use RGBA. No one is holding a gun to your head and saying don’t use CSS animations. As an engineer on the Web application you get to make decisions every single day.” Actually yes, the client is holding the gun to my head. They are the ones that say, “Why is it looking like this on my home pc (firefox lets say) and like this on my work pc (ie7 lets say)? And then the extra hours starts piling up. We have to push towards improving browser education, most people are ignorant to the fact that there are better browser, lets show them that there are, but be nice about it.

  23. 84

    I’m about 50/50 on this. Yes, if we have the time/budget, we should be supporting as many browsers as possible. So rather than complain, we should be proactive to the problems. So I see your point.

    But my clients won’t.

    They want to pay for a website to be built, not to have multiple websites built (which, let’s face it, is essentially what we’re doing). When we’re trying to support some of these legacy browsers with hacks, and overrides, we’re spending a good deal more time just to make things compatible (or as Louis Lazaris said, not being innovative). If the customer sees a significant market-share advantage to targeting a particular browser, then they can justify the cost. But it’s hard to convince anybody that they should just invest additional capital to get their site functional, when that’s already what they’ve paid for.

    It’s a balance between being cost-competitive and being functional, and older browsers are the battleground for this balance.

  24. 85

    Well, at last :)

    It is not common in the web development circles to have a voice of reason. Usually developers rant about technologies that is making them do some actual work :) (supporting IE 6…7..8….. for example)

  25. 87

    I agree with some of the points you make, but i have to say that from a designer/front-end developers point of view, IE8/IE7 (and IE6 but i haven’t used or optimized for that in ages) ARE SHIT, it is really hard to explain til a customer, why somethings just dosen’t look, behave or feel the same in IE7/8 as it does in other browsers.
    They (the customers) all want cool stuff and features on their website, but lets face it, there are just somethings that are a lot harder to accomplish on IE8/7.

    One of the things that causes me the biggest headaches it the poor font rendering in IE7/8, and 8 times out of 10 the customer is just not satisfied with the answer “…well it’s your old browser that is the problem…”

    But IE9 on the other hand, i’m actually ok with, it has some shortcomings and stanges behaviors some times, and the CSS3 support is not that great, but it’s nothing a little workaround or fallback cold can’t fix.

    So i my opinion when “Jaffer Haider” wrote:
    “If you’re using a framework, writing clean CSS and not trying anything groundbreaking, supporting old browsers really isn’t that hard.”
    That’s true, but a lot of times the customer want’s stuff that amazes them and are groundbreaking! we shouldn’t stop exploring new things, or stop trying to “raise the bar” on every new web project. We should encourage users/customers to upgrade their browser and let old and outdated software DIE!

  26. 88

    Allow me to give you another perspective on the issue:
    “Microsoft’s tying of Internet Explorer to the Windows operating system harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice.”

    Microsoft has been a bully and a tyrant, abusing its market dominance and customers ignorance to produce lousy software, holding back (multiple) markets, including the browser. Now, we can’t do anything about its market dominance, but we can sure work with customers ignorance by publishing posts, talking to them, etc.

    I find it hard to give credence to a vendor who has abused its power for so long. So they re-wrote the browser from scratch? After the years they held the market back? Oh, let’s all cheer for their good wishes. The only reason MS is rewriting their software is because they’re left out of the game, the game of innovation which captures the hearts, minds and code of influencers.

    This is MS’s DNA. Remember what they said about iPhones (people like buttons, it will fail) or iPads (no one will use it). Well after the market turns away from them, they’re “embracing” innovation. If they aren’t constantly threatened by public opinion, their products scrutinized and criticized, they’ll just resume stagnation.

    Complaining is a harmful attitude, we should go and get things to work. On that I agree. But it may also be a way of educating, consumers and Microsoft, that opinion leaders still find their products sub-par, and that with choice, they just won’t use it.

    In this case, complaining is EXACTLY what we should do – demand high quality service from vendors who expect us to use our products, so that they can increase their revenue.

    • 89

      Come one man … are you serious … Let’s hit on Apple next … those bastards … they are supplying all kind of software with their operating system – movie player, music player, Safari, other iShits … etc…

      You statements are you childish … Let’s tear apart Linux distributions for comming with some software and not other.

  27. 90

    I couldn’t more thoroughly disagree with this article. More specifically, this quote:
    “Fixating on circumstances that you can’t change isn’t a recipe for success.”
    Inspired me to write this comment, because I feel as developers, its our duty to invoke change across the web.

    My aim and I’m sure its shared by many, as a web developer, is to provide a great user experience to those browsing the internet. When it comes to implementing an outstanding feature of a site that has to be reduced down for users of older versions of IE, we are knowingly providing a worse experience for some people.

    And what possible reason do the users of IE have to upgrade if we keep catering for their every need. Its likely that many of those users aren’t even aware that a better browser exists.

    We will never get away from cross browser compatibility and dealing with browsers that cant do things others can. But there should be a cutoff point and you can guarantee I will moan at everyone and everything until that’s a reality.

  28. 91

    I think the thing to remember is that our community is slowly deteriorating because of brand favoritism. You know, Apple vs Windows, Sony vs Nintendo, The Beatles vs The Stones … such situations never result in worthwhile discussion but get stuck in continuous and meaningless bashing.

    IE9 is still a rather limited browser, but only because it lacks support for an ongoing list of non-standards. Apart from that, it’s a solid and well-behaved browser.

    People also seem to forget that even the newest version of Safari, FF and Chrome have their own list of regrettable bugs. Be it age old css2 solutions (Webkit just now fixed a very simple bug with floats, margins and overflows – something that actually works seamlessly in IE7 – while Safari is still suffering from it) or flaky implementations of css3 propositions. Sure enough we have css3 animation and pseudo-element support in Webkit, but combine the two and nothing happens. Basic implementations usually work just fine, but once you want to do something a tad more challenging you start to run into bug-ridden edge cases.

    Progressive enhancement really is the key. Make sure that the information on your site remains accessible in a quick and usable way, no matter what browser people are using (I myself use the 1% rule – everything above gets support). Suggesting people to upgrade can’t hurt of course, but stuffing it down their throats is even more irritating that flash ads. Browser preference is either due to personal taste or technical limitations and it’s not something that web developers should decide for others. That’s part of what the web is all about.

    • 92

      Has anyone considered that there are a large number of highly locked down users out there that can’t change their browsers? I work for a government department that until recently has locked it’s workstations down so tight that everyone bar a select few were forced to use IE6/7 to access websites for their work. Until government bodies actually have a strategy for updating technology effectively there is always going to be a requirement to provide backward compatibility for the huge number of public sector workers enslaved to obsolete browsers. In short, forgive the little guys who may not have a choice in browsers, it’s the bureaucracies they work for that need to make the updates!

  29. 93

    I think a lot of it is down to IE’s release schedule and method of updating.

  30. 94

    I have a netbook with only one core, a 10 inch screen, and no gpu, – it runs windows XP. Over time, MS has offered via their automatic updates the ability to install the latest version of IE up to the point where my hardware is not good enough to do so; thus I am running IE 8. My computer is also not capable of running Windows 7. At present, I am able to use IE 8 to purchase anything I want on the Internet; e.g. Amazon, eBay, and all the other big boy sites. If you want me to buy something from you, and you don’t support IE 8, you are not going to get my money. At some point your company’s financial people may decide that it is worth while to tell your current people to support IE 8 or to hire some new people to support IE 8. What’s important – having some fancy thing that doesn’t impress me, or making money?

    • 95

      You sir, should try chrome.

      It runs far faster and better on your joke of a computer. (really, whoever decided you could ship atom and XP on the same box must’ve been laughing at the poor users)

      So what’s important to you ? remaining a tech agnostic ? buying overpriced crappy netbooks ? or getting your shit bought online cheap and fast ?

      That’s the whole discussion here, why you should be using chrome, for your own damn benefit as a user, for your data security and for compatibility with ALL the friggin web.

    • 96

      Another thing that gets ignored by web users (that L. hinted at) is security.

      I can tell you how many times I kept having to restore disk images on office computers that were using IE8 that kept getting infected. My bosses logic ran that we need to stay with IE because it was easier for IT to manage.

      I bumped these users to chrome, against the bosses wishes at first. No more restoring disk images all the time now. He is a believer finally and my coworkers love chrome.

      There really is no good reason to stick with IE8. I’m sorry. Unless i didn’t have to support it, I would never, never user it.


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