Why is Microsoft’s IE Inferior?

Someone asked me how to explain to his friend who is adamant that Internet Explorer is superior to other browsers available, why it isn’t so superior, and why Mozilla Firefox is truly the best browser to use right now. Here’s my best response after going through some familiar sources that I’ve bookmarked over the course of designing this site:

First of all, Microsoft won’t completely support standards, even though they’re on the W3C committee, helping to create those standards (or supposedly they are supposed to.) For one thing, they won’t support the proper standard box model, instead going with their own. This is a very big issue. Opera, Gecko-based browsers like Mozilla/Firefox/Netscape, and KHTML-based browsers like Safari and Konqueror all support the standard box model, and standard float model, but all versions of IE, all the way up to the newest one doesn’t.

This mean that designers coding their site using standards and whose code validates properly, will have to use CSS hacks in order to force IE to display properly. This is the biggest problem designers face today trying to make their design work and look the same in all browsers.

Microsoft has been holding back standards for years, and a representative gave a really lame excuse as to why. The thing is, how do regular surfers to websites know what they’re missing, if they don’t know what they’re missing? If 90% of the people in the world that uses IE today discovered that they aren’t viewing webpages the way they were meant to be seen by the designer, they’d be pissed and use a different browser.

The article above also has more on why Internet Explorer is the worst browser to use right now. Even companies like Adobe and Macromedia have hopped off the bandwagon, and are using Opera now because they’ve realized IE is just plain bad.

Other bugs and incomplete features:

  • No support for attribute selectors (Windows/Mac)
  • Incomplete support for PNG (Windows)
  • No support for the W3C event model (Windows/Mac)
  • No support for adjacent selectors (Windows)
  • No support for border-spacing (Windows/Mac)
  • No support for position: fixed (Windows)

Taken from this page: http://www.webstandards.org/opinion/

Even more bugs: http://www.positioniseverything.net/explorer.html

Compare that to the amount of bugs in Gecko browsers: http://www.positioniseverything.net/gecko.html

Microsoft also doesn’t have a Text Zoom feature that enlarges/decreases the text size when the webpage is using absolute px sizes (like font-size: 11px;). Opera supports it, as does Mozilla, and Netscape. This means those who have visual impairment or are 50% blind, can enlarge the text and see the page easily if the text is too small for them. This is an accessibility requirement, and should be a standard feature in all browsers.

It all boils down to one thing — Microsoft does not fully support web standards. Why are web standards important? Web design is still in its infancy, and so is the internet. Web standards allows everyone to follow the proper route to deliver pages to visitors properly. It promotes accessibility (so those who are blind, disabled, or injured can still surf the net), it decreases markup amount and thus bandwidth and related costs, it makes designing webpages faster and easier, and debugging in different browsers simpler.

Just because the web is made up of people using IE browsers, doesn’t make them superior. Microsoft has been resting on their laurels for years, not admitting to the multitude of bugs and problems in the IE browser. Millions of people don’t realize that they are using an inferior browser, and can’t see what they’re missing. As I mentioned above, if they knew, they’d upgrade to a better browser.

For examples of what you can do with advanced browsers that has complete support for standards and CSS, visit http://www.csszengarden.com using both Firefox 0.7 and IE6, and you’ll see what you’ve been missing all along.

Finally visit my site, http://www.goodblimey.com, using both browsers, and you’ll see a subtle yet nice difference between the two browsers. It’s not because I code for a specific browser, but because I use standard code (XHTML 1.0 Strict) and proper CSS code, which IE6 doesn’t fully support. Even using dotted borders isn’t supported by the latest version of IE. Another thing is that it doesn’t support :hover on non-link elements. A big bummer.

I believe Firefox is the best browser to use right now because it offers complete standards support, supports most if not all CSS1 and CSS2 specifications, and even includes preliminary CSS3 support, and it has the least amount of rendering bugs of all browsers. As a web designer, following web standards, it has opened my eyes to just how inferior of a browser Internet Explorer truly is, and I hope to get the word out that people are missing out on what the future of the internet is really supposed to be. Microsoft doesn’t want to be a part of that picture, at least not until Longhorn is released, and that’s a tentative question mark right there.

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