IE, Why Do you Hate The Internet

The title is of course a play on John Stewart asking the guys on crossfire why they hate America, but I guess it’s not really that funny. Once again I’m prompted to action by something Scoble said, in a way anyway. Robert has done great things by getting various facets of Microsoft to put up blogs to tell us what they are up to, and in reading a post and a comment he made, I started to reply, and decided to post things here instead.

Robert said

Look at the lessons I was taught with my iPod rant on Sunday: build a great product and people will flock to you. Is the IE team working to make sure their product is best of breed in the marketplace? Yes.

And I had to ask how exactly? IE hasn’t had any fundamental changes in years, has been passed by by such features as tabbed browsing, etc etc, and the latest update only is there to fix the glaring security holes that have been found in the last few years. As it’s been said (many times, many ways), IE is going to be tied into the OS and won’t see an update until Longhorn (last I heard anyway), causing huge problems for developers.

Why you ask? (Developers, developers, developers, Microsoft loves developers!)

Because of IE’s bad CSS and standards compliance, and the fact that it’s still “supported” on Mac OS8/9/X, but in it’s broken (css, standards) state, when the programmers I work with write good clean code they have to throw it away to support the lowest common denominator, which in this case case, is IE. So we throw away lots of cool features because when our clients ask for support on IE under OS9 (which dealing with school boards, we have a lot of), we have to support the latest browsers, which in OS/9s case, is a pretty damn old copy of IE.

So what will the IE team be doing? Their Blog is less than helpful in gaining insight into what they are doing. A bit on security issues, their favorite dhtml sites, some lovely praise for the windows OS, red sox talk, the JS debugger (crap I’m sorry to say), and various other things that give no indication of what the heck they are going to do to help people in my position.

I want the products my company produces to look good, to have sexy modern interfaces that will wow our customers. I want the programmers I work with to be able to write code once and know it’ll work on the browsers we support without major modification (some will no doubt always be needed for the really funky stuff I fear). Right now we can’t do that and I attribute this squarely on the shoulders of the IE Team.

Lets be honest here. There won’t be any new updates to IE for a very long time will there? It’s been said so many times, the IE renderer supports a billion languages, versions, and testing it in the wiz-bang microsoft test facility takes years for a single change. Are the changes required to give proper standards support coming anytime soon? I really doubt it, and that makes me sad, because it causes more work for me, the people I work with, and makes our products not nearly as good as they could be. Hell, even saying “support only IE” won’t work because writing code for IE 6 (windows) still varies greatly compared to IE 5.X (latest on OS/9 and OS/X). You guys almost did us a favor by not supporting IE on the Mac anymore, which would have meant we could write for IE6/Mozilla, which would have been a bit easier, but later reversed the decision and re-supported IE 5 on the Mac.

So I ask again, how is the IE team working to make sure their browser is the best?

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