What To Do With IE

Yesterday Scoble asked what should be done with IE, and as usual, many people chimed in. That was for the followup of this post telling about his visit with the IE team (which also got lots of comments).

The overwhelming majority say “fix CSS and support PNG”. The overwhelming “feel” I get back from those who appear to be from MS or within the heart of MS is “why bother if it isn’t making money for us our shareholders?” That’s a sad attitude to have. Microsoft’s goal was to have “a computer on every desktop running our software”, and now they have it why bother making it better. Oh sure, Longhorn will be here in a few years and it’ll be great, even tie your shoes for you, but in the meantime, well, sucks to be you. If Microsoft was a little start up I wouldn’t have a problem. More than once at Merilus we didn’t put in cool features because the developer and q&a time associated with something that perhaps one customer wanted was just too high and would affect the bottom line, which was getting a complete and working product out the door. However, microsoft isn’t a little company.

Microsoft tells us (thought it’s evangelists and bloggers) that it’s listening to the people out there, and how it respects the developers and wants communication with them, blah blah blah, but then a (grantedly informal) poll of users and 99% of them say “fix the fucking rendering engine and support file formats that have been around and used for years” and they say “uhmm… shareholder value! shareholder value!”. No good.

I voiced this idea in the second set of comments and skoon echoed it… stop making IE. Supply a link to mozilla or opera or something, or include links to both IE and another browser and see which one people use. It’s not like including mozilla on the desktop will take away your market share would it? You give away IE anyway. Oh right, by tying IE into the OS, the IDE, the help browser, and everything else they can they force people to rely on MS for things other than browsing, and giving them a choice would mean they’d probably move away (as IE is sorely lacking in features) and use something else, and you’d still have to develop the IE renderer for development, so why give someone else the leg up?

An interesting quandry no doubt.

I’m interested in my small group of web developer type friends would you agree or disagree that IE is lagging behind (a la netscape 4.x did back in the day)?

8 Comments on “What To Do With IE”

  1. That’s not to mention that IE just tends to, like all M$ products, break itself. For two years, I haven’t been able to accept cookies on monster.com, no matter what I do. The only way to do it is set my security to 0 and let everyone have at me. Now I can’t get acrobat 6.0 to interface with IE. I uninstalled 5 (because it was broken too), installed 6 and poof. Can’t view pdf’s with IE. Opera? GREAT! On my laptop? GREAT! But not on the desktop.
    I’ll probably just switch all my bookmarks over to opera here at some point and set it to my default ’cause I’m tired of running 2 browsers for whatever I want.

  2. I think one of the main reasons I still use IE for a lot of things is that it’s so integrated. All the “missing” features like tabbed browsing, etc don’t really bother all that much at the moment.
    At the moment I use Mozilla (well, thunderbird) for email, and IE for everything else.

  3. It is, most definitely. I’ve switched to Mozilla and haven’t looked back (though I still use IE to test). Mouse gestures alone was enough to woo me over.
    That’s not to say that Mozilla isn’t bitchy either; I take issue with quite a few of their decisions with regards to web standards. But overall, they make a far better browser.
    And it seems that quite a few people are moving over… in the past year, usage of Mozilla on my site has gone from 11% to 22%.

  4. Yup, even my dad is using it (though before he was a staunch NS 4.x user). Guess he inherited my love of non-IE. Not sure if he uses tabbed browsing yet though, if not, he’ll soon see it’s power.

  5. I pay just enough attention to IE to ensure that my site isn’t entirely broken on it. Buggy but usable is usually where I leave it.
    I was also sorely disappointed to see that attitude in Scoble’s posts. We’ve been screaming for some attention to standards compliance for years — nice to know they’re still telling us to shove off.

  6. I agree with Darren, and thus my suggestion to MS is not to change the technology(per se), but rather change the ethics and community values of the IE team.
    You see, while Darren may have a few problems with the rendering engine in Mozilla, at least the ‘zilla team CARES about standards compliance. If something is not fixed, then it a) is in the process of begin fixed Real Soon Now or b) there is still debate on how to best fix it.
    Whereas in IE’s situation, they don’t fix it because they want the web to be broken. They want to remain the 800 lb. gorilla of the internet, even if it means having the crappiest browser Known To Humanity.
    What they should change is that they should take a leadership, not dominant, role in the community. Make a better product. Strive to make things better without simultaneously beating people to death. Allow others to survive and thrive. Make sure that everyone has a voice.
    This same attitude applies to EVERY problem/bug/feature in IE (and Windows, for that matter). You see, if we knew that MS cared about actually fixing problems and doing the right thing, then they wouldn’t be so universally hated.
    And if anyone here believes that this will happen, please contact me about a certain bridge in Brooklyn.

  7. Engel – ayup. I don’t think that they so much want the web to be broken as don’t care if the browser is broken because hey, 95% of the desktop users will have it on their desktop and tied into the OS.
    The thing that is starting to piss me off is the double standard nature of MS. They have evangelists like scoble trumpeting how much they care about the community, how they’re listening to developers, how they’re trying to be better, and at the same time saying that if it doesn’t increase shareholder value, why do it…. We’re still waiting for xpsp2, and even with it I doubt it’ll do much good for a while because it won’t help people installing xp from their original disks, and will only really help OEMs who she xp preinstalled (assuming they are installing xpsp2). Who gets an OS cd with their brand new computer these days anyway?

  8. It’s about resources, but not about money — at least not totally.
    And, every company has to listen to its customers and then make a business decision based on that feedback. That doesn’t mean that that feedback isn’t valued, listened to, and fought over.
    I guarantee you that the top execs in the company are reading my comments right now. I know, cause they’ve sent me emails about them.