Do you use Internet Explorer? Do you enjoy suffering?

Get Firefox

This is hardly a novel point of view, but I simply have to pile on my share of dirt to the dessicated corpse of web nastiness that is the Internet Explorer browser. By all accounts it is still the most popular choice out there, which is truly disturbing. Firefox is an open source alternative that is superior in every respect, and that is before you you start in on the universe of extensions (or forked alternatives such as the very promising Flock).

Why this highly unoriginal post, and why now? As Alan mentioned in his wrap-up post, during our workshop IE users had a terrible time with just about every activity, from adding del.icio.us bookmarklets (IE users required to download and install a .exe file!) to using the wonderful Flickrlilli search of Creative Commons licensed images (which was completely non-functional in IE). No exaggeration, at least half of the personal help that participants needed was directly attributable to this browser.

So today, while prepping for the social software session at the upcoming BCcampus Spring Workshop, I took a moment to write the organizers and request Firefox be installed on every machine (naturally, they were already on it). IE has gone from being a nuisance to a full-blown liability.

Use Firefox. Use Safari. Use Opera. Use Lynx. Donate your computer to a worthy charity and use paper and pen. But please move away from IE.

7 thoughts on “Do you use Internet Explorer? Do you enjoy suffering?

  1. I dunno…I use both, and I like a good MS beatup as much as the next guy…but I guess I still see this as a design issue. If designers (and companies) are building sites optimized for one browser, it’s their fault that the other 100 million people not using that browser can’t enjoy their site or web app.

    Can’t really blame people who get used to IE because it’s what came on their machines, and maybe they don’t even know how to download new programs…never mind figuring out why they’d want to replace a piece of software that works fine for what they’re doing.

  2. My intention wasn’t a gratuitous MS bash. I know some incredibly smart people who work for Microsoft, and some of their software is great (I prefer Entourage to Mail, for instance).

    But on both your points I have to quibble. If you talk to web designers, IE drives them nuts, as it is the browser with the worst adherence to agreed web standards. When I watch designers build pages in our office, first they build the page to W3C guidelines, then they test it in IE, then they swear a lot, then they spend a ton of time tweaking and hacking so that IE doesn’t break the pages.

    On the second, the pervasiveness of the browser just illustrates the perniciousness of MS integrating the browser into the operating system so tightly (which was illegal, and opened the browser up to a raft of security vulnerabilities). And the fact that many people still don’t know there are better options (most don’t even know what “tabbed browsing” is) was a motivation for this post. Based on what I saw last week, the browser is not working “just fine”, it is locking its users out of some of the coolest stuff happening on the web. How many IE users have given up quickly on de.icio.us because they couldn’t make it work right? And they’ll never see Flickrlilli (unless something changes).

    I honestly think I could make a bigger contribution to UBC’s online use by doing fewer social software workshops, and more Firefox ones.

    But I appreciate your perspective J, as ever. I didn’t mean to come across as mean-spirited, but man, that workshop last week was frustrating.

  3. I almost never use IE, for all the reasons you’ve cited. Every since Andy did his great sermonette on Firefox a couple of years ago, I’ve been right there. I do have a couple of issues with the mighty Fox, however, the biggest of which is memory usage. It’s a well-documented problem, and there are config. workarounds, but it’s still annoying when my entire machine freezes up after (okay, I’ll cop) I’ve got ten windows open.

    None of that’s a reason to use IE, however. The case against IE is the case for standards and interoperability, a case I hope Apple will look hard at as well when it comes to, say, iTunes U.

  4. I won’t defend IE. It can be a pain for web developers, ed-tech evangelists and antitrust prosecuters; no question. My flippant comment was more just a reminder that most people are not itching to beta-test the latest AJAX web-app thingamijig like we usually are. If they can check the weather, the news and their e-mail, they’re happy and won’t ever be compelled to switch…so, as developers who would like them to be able to use our sites, we have to endure our own swearing to get it right for them to.

    And although Firefox is cooler, I can’t say I’ve had any trouble using IE with any of the new web apps I’ve been checking out lately…unless they’ve got good ol’ PDFs, which regularly cause me trouble.

  5. Thanks for the Flickrlilli name check. I was interested to read that you had problems with IE. Any chance you could explain some more, as I’d like to fix if I can. I’ve tested in IE on Linux but don’t have a Windows machine for testing. Thanks!

  6. Elliott — I wish I could remember. It was during a workshop, so I did not have time to properly diagnose the problem. All I remember was that when these users did a search, a box popped up saying there was an error.

    Great work on Flickrlilli — and it’s good to discover your weblog.

  7. I agree that Firefox is totally superior to (gag! choke!) IE – BUT I had students post MP3s on an Elgg blog, and Firefox only plays the first second, while IE plays the whole file. So I have to use IE – unless you can suggest an alternative ;->

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