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How Internet Explorer Wages War Against Usability

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I’ve been brushing up on my AJAX skills to prepare for a phone interview with Yahoo. This reviewing brought old gripes to air, and convinced me to publicize my long held belief. This belief may seem like an overstatement, but bear with me, and I think you’ll find I can make my case. Internet Explorer is NOT COMPATIBLE WITH THE INTERNET. This is my honest opinion.

I understand that a statement like that, made anywhere outside a forum atmosphere, requires proof. Therefore, I will enumerate my examples.

  1. CSS – Internet Explorer only parses CSS in the most hacked and sloppy manner. The box model is mangled, and proprietary tags are accepted to make up for the lack of support for standard methods. Any skilled designer will tell you that you code for Mozilla and hack for IE compatability later.
  2. HTML – Internet Explorer created proprietary tags for purely stylistic purposes, where as HTML is meant to be a style-free language
  3. Javascript – Internet Explorer does not support the standard Document Object Model, and has many custom tags, rather than supporting the standards to which everyone else adheres.
  4. Embedding Media – Internet Explorer requires custom, non-standard, tags to embed media.
  5. PNG Images – Internet explorer does not support PNG’s Alpha transparency, severely limiting designers’ freedoms with custom interfaces.
  6. AJAX – the basic xmlHTTPRequest, upon which AJAX is based, is not supported in Internet Explorer… instead an ActiveX hack must be used.
  7. Proprietary Elements/Scripting – Internet Explorer purposefully degrades the concept of a usable internet by releasing, maintaining, and promoting proprietary elements and scripting languages

Now for the big question: Why does Internet Explorer purposefully attempt to cripple the Internet? Money. Microsoft wants users of the Internet to feel obligated to use Internet Explorer because it (and it alone) supports all these “amazing features” (read: garbage). On the other hand, Microsoft cripples designers by making usable, portable design so difficult to hack for “IE compatability” (read: bastardization) that many designers opt for IE-only design.

Some readers may think, “What’s so bad about IE only design?” For those readers, I remind you that Microsoft recently pulled support for the Macintosh version of IE, and that there never was a version for Linux. Not only that, but support for even proprietary features differed vastly between Mac and Windows, and security flaws were/are abundant in both.

Now, Microsoft is set to introduce a new monstrosity on the world – IE 7. This new version appears to be the same mismatched beast of incompatability, but with a new twist: an interface that is basically a wholesale ripoff of Firefox. Please, stand up and say “NO MORE.” Switch browsers. Use Opera, Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape, Lynx, ANYTHING EXCEPT IE! Help designers, like me, build an accessible Internet experience.

Get Firefox!

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About gschoppe

  • Umm… I hate MSIE as much as the next guy, but that “ActiveX hack” for using XMLHttpRequest objects was where AJAX was born– back when Outlook Web Access was first released. Firefox and Safari and others cloned XMLHttpRequest quite awhile later.


  • propriety elements/scripting. can’t disagree there, though it would have been cool if dhtml behaviors were added to the standard. the concept is extremely powerful. hell, it’s even elegant….a word i don’t often use around microsoft-land.

  • As a web programmer / designer and so on who has never been a Windows user, I’ve always been puzzled by the draw to IE. It has never been a good browser, in my estimation, and responds better to hacks than to published standards. So I’m on board with you sir: Firefox is fantastic. If you’re running Linux, Konqueror is quite nice as well. Come to think of it, I was a big fan of Galeon before Firebird (now Firefox) hit the scene. Anyway, yes, dump IE ASAP.

  • Umm, the real origin of AJAX was netscape’s Live Script, which developed into JavaScript back in 1990 or so, layer.load() was the tool that allowed AJAX style requests.

  • i don’t really care who created the term XMLhttpRequest. Internet Explorer only implemented it as an ActiveX component, which meant only their browsers were able to use their version. The syntax used by all other major browsers is standardized… IE needs to either code for standards, or stop introducing new features

  • I’m not so technical, but do have an observation that may be of use. I have a Sony laptop with only XP & Word & IE to speak of. My 7.86GB C Drive is being moth-eaten slowly by IE, I’m sure of it.

    (Yes, yes, I delete the Temporary Internet Files etc — it ain’t that. I have no big downloads. Only have text files.) I’ve kept a log of each sign-on & sign-off for about four months & have watched the moths nibble about 10-20MB a session. (I have a good EZ pest control.) It’s eerie.

    I didn’t even notice until my C Drive got down to about 700MB & fear set in. I’ve been jettisoning various programs (like Quicken) & all picts to give myself an MB Vitamin Boost, but I’m down to almost the bare bones now. (I’m going to try a free download of Partition Magic & see if I can steal some gigabytes from my robust & stable D Drive.) It’s got to be IE.

    Hope that gives you hotter shots another tidbit to add to your quiver.

    My theory is that most people don’t notice this cruddy IE erosion because they have gigabytes to burn.

  • Manual semi-trackback (concerning IE 7 usability):