Lockergnome: Why You Should Dump Internet Explorer

Wednesday June 16th, 2004

Chris Pirillo wrote in to tell us about a new article on Lockergnome entitled Why You Should Dump Internet Explorer: "The time has come to dump Internet Explorer. I know, I know — you may have heard the same thing before from those that think it's cool to hate Microsoft; but I'm not one of those guys. I'm actually an MCSE and I happen to like quite a few of Microsoft's products. Rather than lump me into the Microsoft-basher category, consider for a moment why you use the browser you use, and humor me by entertaining the notion — if even for a second — that switching to another might be worth your while..."

#1 I never needed to dump Internet Explorer...

by dtobias

Wednesday June 16th, 2004 12:00 PM

...because I never started using it in the first place! I went straight from Netscape 4.x to Mozilla.

#16 Re: I never needed to dump Internet Explorer...

by arielb

Thursday June 17th, 2004 10:04 AM

me too-though it took me a while before moz was at the point that i could dump 4.8 for good. Now i use mozilla and don't even think about it unless I'm at a site which wants to install something like windows update. But once i'm through with that-why bother browse with IE?

#2 Great approach.

by Gnu

Wednesday June 16th, 2004 2:41 PM

I pretty much feel the same way. It's about time less people saw switching away from IE less as mindless anti-Microsoft rhetoric and more as using the better tool for the job. I don't mind MS and don't see them as some evil corporate entity trying to take over the world, but their insistence on haphazard ActiveX advocacy, lackadaisical approach to Web standards, and flagging innovation in the mail/browser arena forced me to switch to Mozilla products.

#3 Mozilla...

by SomeGuy

Wednesday June 16th, 2004 7:02 PM

Mozilla is simply a superior web browser.

IE is... ancient.

And BTW my Windows system is still 100% IE free. (95 OSR2 with a hack so it did not install IE 3) Mozilla runs great on it.

#4 the taste of a new generation

by Jonny_R

Wednesday June 16th, 2004 8:07 PM

I really like Mozilla, especially the Firefox browser. Before I started playing around with Seamonkey around version 0.9.whatever I thought IE 5.5 was the cat's meow.

If Internet Explorer had true standards compliance, tabbed browsing, and the popup blocking (it has it now) without all the vunerabilities (damn those useful search bars!), I wouldn't tell everyone I know to stay away from it. I think it has gotten to that point. Mozilla Firebird, Safari, or even Opera is a much better choice.

Personally, I disdain the fact Microsft is not bringing their product up to par with W3C standards or to match the Mozilla Foundation's efforts, especially since there are products or websites that soley rely on the IE browser. There should be some effort not to buy/use those products until some change has been made on the part of Microsoft.

#5 windows only issue

by benhuot

Wednesday June 16th, 2004 9:36 PM

Internet Explorer is only being developed as a part of new versions of Windows. So unless you are always using the latest M$ products, this is not an issue. If you are using Windows then obviously you don't care about open standards or security, so I don't really see the point.

#6 Re: windows only issue

by Smigit

Wednesday June 16th, 2004 9:53 PM

"If you are using Windows then obviously you don't care about open standards or security, so I don't really see the point."

did you mean Internet Explorer? Saying all windows users dont care about standards and security would be a big call because i most certainly care, as do many others.

#7 Re: windows only issue

by slxception

Thursday June 17th, 2004 1:36 AM

"If you are using Windows then obviously you don't care about open standards or security, so I don't really see the point."

I think you're stereotyping that all windows users don't care about standards or security. Actually, this isn't the case. Most Windows users have no choice (or think they have no choice) on their OS. They only use Windows either for gaming, or for work, or some other reason. However, one can still care about open standards or security on Windows, if one uses a different web browser such as Mozilla.

#22 You are misinformed

by adipose

Thursday June 17th, 2004 3:31 PM

I use FreeBSD and Win2k. I take great pride in keeping my machines secure, and none have ever been hacked. Win2k continues to be the best client OS I have ever used. It is light, stable, and has application and driver support that no other OS has. I eagerly await the day where I find a *nix desktop useable. Every year I try Gnome and KDE again to see if I can stand using them as a client desktop, but although many older bugs are fixed, newer ones always crop up that are simply unbearable, and the bloat keeps increasing.

I update my win2k boxes occasionally, but mostly I rely on myself to keep them secure. I don't use IE (I use Firefox) and I protect my network with a carefully configured firewall (currently pf on FreeBSD). I also have to update my FreeBSD box on occasion because of OpenSSH holes that arise. The fact is, no OS is totally secure, and all take some work to make safe. Windows may have more than its share, but through care and diligence, it can be fairly safe as well, while I reap the benefits of years of MS's work to get people to support their OS.

Your assertion that windows users don't care about security is simply wrong; many of us do care, and achieve it. Of course we hate MS for their sloppy programming and disinterest in stopping up security holes, but we know how to deal with these things. Some of use use windows where it makes sense (as a client) and use *nix where it makes sense (as a server). If *nix ever makes sense as a desktop, I'll switch in a hurry, because I love open-source and support it as much as I can. But I will not use a buggy, bloated, feature-rich but detail-lacking desktop like Gnome or KDE unless I really can't find the $150 to buy Win2k.


#37 I couldn't agree more

by antistatic

Thursday July 1st, 2004 6:06 AM

Indeed windows 2k and the following are the most efficient desktop OS-es, while *nix and the like are THE server OS-es. I reapeatedly tried to switch to a desktop environment based on linux (be it KDE or Gnome). Too slow, too buggy, to bloated. There is no viable linux alternative (in terms of both production time and real efficency) for Photoshop/Autocad/3ds max. That is ground zero, without them, any desktop is useless to me. This goes the other way around, without high responsive security and easy configuration, a a server is useless to me. So, it's simple win2k, xp, 2k3 are desktops, linuces and *nices are servers.

#8 I still need IE

by hobbes78

Thursday June 17th, 2004 4:05 AM

Mozilla is pretty good now, but I still need IE around. My company's intranet home page doesn't work very well with Mozilla. Among other sites, the main Portuguese streaming audio site (cotonet) doesn't work in Mozilla. HTM read is supported in the latest Firefox nightlies but no write functionality is in sight. And I can't get reed of Outlook either, as no synchronisation is available with my Windows CE PDA neither in Mozilla nor in Thunderbird.

At least for me the time hasn't arrived yet.

#9 Re: I still need IE

by hobbes78

Thursday June 17th, 2004 4:06 AM

I meant MHT, not HTM, of course.

#10 You'll always need IE.

by pcx99

Thursday June 17th, 2004 4:17 AM

From a post I made on the newsgroups in a guy who's request to have mouseover tooltips on images for ALT tags get brushed off because it wasn't w3 compatible:

Don't bother. If it isnt' w3 they've got no interest in putting it in which is why mozilla will continue to be an also ran. When Microsoft was busy putting word perfect, netscape, and visicalc out of business they did it by matching the competition feature for feature. Shoot, word even had "Word for Word Perfect Users" as an option on the help menu. You could migrate from word perfect to word without breaking a sweat, fingernail, or keystroke.

Mozilla on the other hand will always be a broken product to end users because they will hit page after page after page that is broken or doesn't work the way it should **BUT WORKS GREAT IN IE** and it doesn't matter to them that it's not a w3 standard, it doesn't matter one little bit, not one little iota, ya wanna know why? Because it works in IE and IE has 97% of the market share because the browser is free and comes included with the OS.

So who is going to install mozilla, going through the download, and the install, and the system resources to get a browsing experience which is broken or at best sub-par? A developer maybe who wants to remain compatible with the other 3%, the computer geek who wants to be different maybe, the guy who believes MS really is the anti-christ and the root of all evil and destruction in the world ( and he uses Linux ), and a few other types.

Mozilla is a great browser, but it will never be widely accepted until it bites the bullet and offers an IE compatibility mode and this includes little things like tooltips, support for IE cursor styles, even searching the DOM if an error is thrown because a user used objectname instead of document.getElementById("objectname").

Thunderbird on the other hand is truly a killer app :)

IMHO of course.

#11 Re: You'll always need IE.

by BorgHunter

Thursday June 17th, 2004 4:42 AM

I have seen a grand total of...wait for it...two pages that did not work with Mozilla that did with IE since I switched to Mozilla a year and a half ago. Yes, two. Neither of them I really wanted to visit, and both of them made extensive use of crappy JavaScript.

#12 Re: Re: You'll always need IE.

by pcx99

Thursday June 17th, 2004 6:05 AM

You obviously don't play around in the blogsphere or in intranets that use DHTML as a user interface. In fact I will go so far as to say that mozillia is passing up a fantastic once in a decade opportunity to take the lead back from IE because it won't offer IE compatability and then extend DHTML to make developing intranet and web applications easier. I read a very interesting article yesterday on slashdot that argued (successfully IMHO) that MS had lost the API wars to the developers who choose to develop to web standards (SQL database, backend scripting -- php, asp, jsp, and then DHTML/Javascript/Java). MS saw this of course which is why they stopped developing IE and DHTML because if they continued the DHTML/Javascript would become the new interface API for 99% of all the developers out there and that's platform independance and it's not MS. It's a really interesting read I highly recommend it ( ) But until mozilla offers 100% IE compatibility (so developers don't have to go back and waste time redeveloping old stuff) and then starts offering something better, mozilla simply isn't going to be able to captialize on this golden opportunity.

#13 Re: Re: Re: You'll always need IE.

by mlefevre

Thursday June 17th, 2004 7:04 AM

You make it sound like an easy thing to do. Microsoft has far more resources available than Mozilla. Suppose Mozilla prioritised IE-compatibility - other Mozilla/Firefox development would grind to a half for a year or so. Then, mid-2005, we have a browser that's nearly compatible with IE6 (you're never going to get 100%). Then Microsoft comes up with Longhorn and moves the goal posts (as you say, this is obviously something they'll do), and Mozilla spends another couple of years trying to get compatibility with that. Result is that Mozilla ends up chasing Microsoft - always being a while behind, and never 100% compatible.

To have any chance of being a successful strategy, Mozilla would need to achieve that 99% compatibility with IE 6 _at the same time_ as moving forward with their own stuff and standards. AIUI, the programming involved uses pretty different concepts, so you're not going to benefit from much sharing of work - the IE stuff would be a pretty much separate "IE-mode". Mozilla is working on a budget of a couple of million over multiple years, plus some voluntary contributions, while Microsoft has billions to throw around - trying to mirror their development and do more on top is never going to work.

#14 Re: Re: Re: Re: You'll always need IE.

by pcx99

Thursday June 17th, 2004 7:19 AM

No, I know it's not an easy thing to do but the point is that the Mozilla/Firefox team isn't even *TRYING*. File a bug that says there are no tooltips with alt tags on images and you get smacked down (even insultingly so) because ALT tooltips aren't part of the w3 standard. In reality however there is already a feature in firefox to do this because there is an IMG tag which does have w3 sanctioned popup tooltips so exactly how many millions of dollars would it cost to tie the ALT tag into that same tooltip function? Probably about an hour to implement it on all versions and then do some minor tests and the return on investment would be a hundred fold.

The biggest obsticle to incorporation into corporate internets with web applications is that IE javascript allows you to reference an object by objectname.action while mozilla forces you to use document.getElementById("objectname").action (or assign a variable). Granted IE's version is a horrible corruption of javascript but because it was quick and easy and obvious, lots of back office apps use that and mozilla breaks those apps. But hey, how difficult would it be to catch the error by referring to the objectname directly and do a behind the scenes getElementById just to see if that corrects the error? Really not that difficult and it would make mozilla incredibly palatable for corporate intranets and back office developments.

In short, guarantee backward compatability with existing applications and web pages is worth the time and effort because developers will embrace what lets them get by without having to go back and revise all their old apps. If mozilla works with their existing web apps and then offers nifty tools and gizmos they can use to develop the ui of their next web app, well then mozilla my be a manadatory install. But if you're the IT guy and see mozilla doesn't work with the old apps (even if it doesn't because you were a sloppy programmer) what are the chances mozilla will be deployed next year instead of IE -- right, zero.

Until the outright hostility to anything not w3 is overcome in the mozilla decision making process I honestly do not see the browser being anything more than a niche oddity in the near future which is unfortunate because there is so much potential there.

If you have any doubts about how MS won the browser war just remember to check your server logs -- to this day IE still reports Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0 ) why Mozilla doesn't "get it" I have no idea.

#17 ALT tooltips

by dtobias

Thursday June 17th, 2004 10:05 AM

The ALT attribute is intended as a replacement for an image when the image is not displayed (e.g., in text browsers like Lynx). The TITLE attribute is intended for supplementary information such as might be displayed as a tooltip. Rarely does the same text make sense for both of those uses simultaneously.

#28 Re: ALT tooltips

by pcx99

Friday June 18th, 2004 4:27 AM

It's not exactly rocket science to display the alt tooltip if there's no title tag and to display only the title tag if there's both a title and alt. Doing this preserves the w3 title tag while providing compatability with all those IE designed pages that use ALT as a help tooltip to explain what page icons do.

#29 Re: Re: ALT tooltips

by Smigit

Friday June 18th, 2004 5:22 AM

what then will happen to those that are designing sites that dont want show any tag, but due to the browser not sticking to the standards it gets shown? There should a a system that caters for the ppl that want the tag and those that dont, and the standards cater for such flexibility. It isnt rocket science for the original designer to use the right tags if that is what they want to be achieved.

#18 IEs are not compatible with themselves

by cyfer

Thursday June 17th, 2004 11:10 AM

Hi, do you know that IEs are not compatible with themselves? Different IE, versions or platforms, perform different a lot. Some of the difference between them are bugs, some other of the difference are so big bugs that called features.

And the other thing is that MS doesn't publish their IE standards, and nobody outside know what they did in their IE. Other developers trying to develop a IE compatible browser or web developer like me could only guess.

And here you ask for 100% IE compatibility, but you mean Moz should be compatible with one of the IE4, IE5, IE5.5, IE6 or IE5.x for Mac? Or you want the moz decide which version of IE it should simulate by AI? I heard someone claiming the mozilla is a bloat ware... Or the user should decide which IE his/her moz should simulate, and there will be a UI component so the user could selecct? Ahrrrr... someone else is complaining the UI complexity of mozilla...

And do you want to have ActiveX in mozilla? So someone could sneak in and install some spyware?

No joking, 100% IE compatibility is meaningless. if you are a web developer, try to learn more about the web; if you are just a user of mozilla, you can email the webmaster of the website say, "hi, your page is broken in mozilla!". that will help yourself either.

#27 Re: IEs are not compatible with themselves

by pcx99

Friday June 18th, 2004 4:26 AM

for the last several years IE 5.5 and IE 6.0 has pretty much been the only browser out there so it is the defacto standard and 97 some odd percent usage makes it a very tough standard. When Netscape had those kind of numbers even the high and mighty microsoft had to bend and do things netscape's way until they got enough market share to start doing things their own way.

#23 Re: Re: Re: You'll always need IE.

by SimonG

Thursday June 17th, 2004 5:36 PM

Can't agree with this. I develop DHTML GUI rich apps in the enterprise space, with IE6/Win as the target browser. And yet, I support moz 100% with literally no effort at all (even though very few people in this company use it). Supporting IE5.5/Win however is a major PAIN, mainly because of its broken box model. IE5 or lower I block and tell them to upgrade. I am no not too far from blocking IE5.5 and forcing an upgrade to IE6. I am now using SOAP from the browser to access a bunch of corporate web services, and the IE soap api is absolutely horrible, whereas Moz's is great (I'm in the process of replicating the Moz api over xmlHttp requests so I can use it from IE as well). Moz also provides great extensibility with XBL - which I can't use as I need IE compatability.

My point is, Moz easily has compatability with IE6. The problem is that intranet developers typically have their heads up their arses, and even when given a sole browser target of IE6, don't understand about simple things such as document types, strict mode, and in general, W3C standards. If they did, they would get a free ride in Moz, and achieve cross platform deployment in one fell swoop.

Legacy sites - well I'd leave them be and let them fail in moz. But anything new - developers can support moz with such minimal effort, its astounding they don't. And when I say support - it just means fire up the damn browser and test your app in it!!!!

#26 Re: Re: Re: Re: You'll always need IE.

by pcx99

Friday June 18th, 2004 4:23 AM

"My point is, Moz easily has compatability with IE6. The problem is that intranet developers typically have their heads up their arses, and even when given a sole browser target of IE6, don't understand about simple things such as document types, strict mode, and in general, W3C standards. If they did, they would get a free ride in Moz, and achieve cross platform deployment in one fell swoop. "

And you just made my point why mozilla will need backward IE compatability if it's ever going to crack the backoffice, because most developers do have their head up their butts and because IE was effectively the only browser around for two years that's what people coded to. Sure it's real easy to make sure your new pages are cross compatible now but who the heck wants to go back into two years of crappy web pages and make sure they work ok in mozilla? Who the heck has time for that? And sorry, but when that legacy site is serving up your customer contact list you just can't let it fail :-/

#19 Don't blame the browser...

by Deaf

Thursday June 17th, 2004 2:03 PM

Probably 99% of the problem is that web developers are not coding correctly. The ALT attribute is an accessibility tool. It is used to show text in place of the image within text-only browsers etc. However due to IE's IMPROPER use of this attribute, people now associate the ALT attribute with tooltips.

It is really not a browser issue but a coding issue. If then just use the TITLE attribute instead if they wish to have a tooltip created then all is well in margaritaville.


#25 Re: Don't blame the browser...

by pcx99

Friday June 18th, 2004 4:19 AM

And as I said, if you're the sloppy web developer evaluating browsers for your corporation and IE works with all the crappy spagetti code you churned out over the last two years and mozilla doesn't, it doesn't take a genius to figure out mozilla probably won't be deployed in that corporate office.

And the point of the ALT attribute isn't that IE executes it improperly it's that 97% of the browsers out there (IE) recognize it and execute an action and thus has become more of a standard than w3 will EVER have the power to create.

And it wouldn't exactly kill the mozilla devs to display an alt tag if there's no title tag as a popup, not in the least.

#30 Re: Don't blame the browser...

by DavidGerard

Friday June 18th, 2004 7:34 AM

Ah, actually, no. ALT making a tooltip was a feature introduced by ... Netscape 4.0.

#31 Re: You'll always need IE.

by scorzonera

Friday June 18th, 2004 7:38 AM

"Mozilla on the other hand will always be a broken product to end users because they will hit page after page after page that is broken or doesn't work the way it should **BUT WORKS GREAT IN IE** and it doesn't matter to them that it's not a w3 standard, it doesn't matter one little bit, not one little iota, ya wanna know why? Because it works in IE and IE has 97% of the market share because the browser is free and comes included with the OS."

It's more likely because most people don't know the difference between IE and Internet (according to a vast amount of a particular kind of users: IE = Internet). "Browser?? What do you mean? What's a browser?!" It would even surprise me if they have any notion on what an OS is.

Anyway, if (the majority of the) people want to use IE, let 'm. I don't care.

However, it's a growing trend on on-line forums (related to security or software) to ask questions about how to get rid of a highly unwanted toolbar, trojan or other malware that was (automatically or not) installed on their system via IE. And more and more they get the advise to use an 'alternative' for IE, as a countermeasure for known *and* future exploits for (un)patched security holes in IE. Even my national government (the Netherlands) now advises on their security-alert/advise web site to use an alternative browser to avoid getting infected with a certain trojan. People are starting to get aware, slowly but surely.

BTW: During my time as an IE user (a long, long time ago), I encountered just as many sites that didn't work (for whatever reason) in IE as I encounter now with Mozilla. Just a few, hardly worth mentioning actually. At the same time I gained a higher level of on-line security, privacy and in general a more userfriendly browser experience when I switched. Even developing my hobby-web sites is now a breeze. When it works in Mozilla, and not in IE, it's easy to use some (not much) well documented IE-workarounds to get it to work in that browser as well (I try to avoid using hacks, but in some cases I don't mind). Working the other way around (as I was used to do) took quite some more time and headaches.

And if your on an Intranet, go ahead, use IE. Who cares? I wouldn't recommend using or developing for closed-source software, though. But hey, it's a free world...

So, I really do not see the need to waste time and resources developing crap to support some other crap. Useless short-term thinking. Better to use all of our time and resources (developers and users alike) to inform people about what they are using or developing and why it's a bad idea, or not. In the long run, we will *all* benefit from that.

#15 pet peeve with UI redrawing

by buff

Thursday June 17th, 2004 8:11 AM

There is one big issue I have with GTK Firefox on linux. When complicated pages are loading the Firefox UI seems to freeze-up until the page loads. It would be nice if I could continue to switch tabs while the large page loads. Is this a threading problem with the UI native widgets in GTK or is it a Firefox problem. Anyone else find this annoying or see this on Windows or Linux?

#21 Re: pet peeve with UI redrawing

by alcatraz52

Thursday June 17th, 2004 2:34 PM

It's a FF prob, I see it on Linux, & Windows 98/XP.

#20 exactly what is the use for tooltips anyway?

by smkatz

Thursday June 17th, 2004 2:10 PM

Can anyone point out what functionality is broken by a lack of tooltips as I surf old webpages?

If it was that important, they could use <title>.. but I've no mission-critical usage of either.

#24 Re: exactly what is the use for tooltips anyway?

by pcx99

Friday June 18th, 2004 4:16 AM

Many sites use tooltips as a pop-up "help" to explain what certain icons do.

#32 Re: Re: exactly what is the use for tooltips anywa

by WeSaySo

Friday June 18th, 2004 11:26 AM

Forgetting about W3 stuff and all that, if someone needs to mouseover an icon to understand what it means, then the icon in question is horribly broken. An icon should be self-explanatory and should never rely on a user activity for identification.

#33 Re: Re: Re: exactly what is the use for tooltips a

by mikemarco

Friday June 18th, 2004 1:35 PM

Generally speaking, this is true. But this ideal is rarely achieved in practice (if you can name every icon in Microsoft Word or, I salute you, but I certainly can't), and tooltips go a long way towards helping out the user. Anyway, the point still stands--the ALT attribute is the wrong tool for the job, and TITLE should be used instead.

#34 Two reasons why people won't switch

by RenHoek

Thursday June 24th, 2004 9:12 AM

I've helped numerous people with their computers, got them online, etc. I'm a fervent Mozilla user myself and always advise it to my friends. However there are some of my friends who cannot be swayed for 2 simple reasons.

1) "Not all websites work with <Browser X> but EVERYTHING works with MSIE!"

Unfortunatly this is largely true. I hate my current bank for not putting together a decent website too.

2) "It's what I use at work, it's what I know how to use."

The lazy.. However I myself don't like to fidget around with stuff all the time if I have something that reasonably does what I want. Certainly with the precious little spare time I have.

So unless Mozilla becomes a standard itself, or until be get such a destructive trojan to go around, people are not going to bother with choosing and learning how to use a better browser. :(

#35 RoboForm -- HTTP Authentication Password Support

by trparky

Saturday June 26th, 2004 9:04 PM

I like Mozilla, but one of my MUCH NEEDED add-ons for my web browser called RoboForm must have HTTP Authentication Support to make me use Mozilla like I use Internet Explorer.

#36 Re: RoboForm -- HTTP Authentication Password Support

by trparky

Saturday June 26th, 2004 9:05 PM

I use CPanel and WHM a lot, so I need HTTP Authentication support.

#38 Re: RoboForm -- HTTP Authentication Password Suppo

by SamHan

Wednesday July 21st, 2004 7:48 AM

Does this mean RoboForm cannot be used with Mozilla? I need my RoboForm!! :-)

#39 Re: RoboForm -- HTTP Authentication Password Suppo

by SamHan

Wednesday July 21st, 2004 3:38 PM

What about this? Does RoboForm not work with Mozilla?