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"Browsers Still Matter"
move away from IE, IT depts are urged
tedster




msg:593299
 11:33 pm on Jun 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

The widely distributed E-Week magazine just ran a commentary
urging businesses to move away from IE.

Ironically, Microsoft achieved this dominance for Internet
Explorer at a time when it has let its browser stagnate to the
point where it is probably the least-capable browser on the
market today.

...a great deal of innovation and useful features in open-source
browsers such as Mozilla and commercial products such as the
Opera browser. In comparison, IE 6 has basically the same code
base as IE 5, which was released in 1999.

E-Week Story [eweek.com]

Good to see this kind of coverage. Change may still happen.

 

futureX




msg:593359
 2:12 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

FutureX:IE is not exactly scraping the barrel, it has everything users need to browse the web, what new advancements would require Microsoft to upgrade?

A lot of it is under the bonnet. The average user simply isn't aware that IE is getting things wrong or missing code it simply cannot render. Only yesterday I emailed Eric Meyer (CSS guru) because he'd set the fonts on an old page to use ems. The result in IE is a ridiculous variation in font size depending on the Text Size set by the user. The default when IE is installed is "Smaller", making Eric's page unreadable.

My point is though, that something like 98% of web users use IE, and so people optimize for that. Why would normal users pay the price of "lazy webmasters" coding mistakes, a normal user would think "hey this looks crap, i'm going back to IE".

Another thing I noticed was raised above was the obvious points about w3c and pages rendering different in browsers, people always seem to link this together, they seem to think that automatically if something isnt w3c compliant then its going to look crap in at least one of the browsers, which simply isnt true, I personally dont put too much stock in validation. But I wont say anymore on that subject.

ricfink




msg:593360
 3:46 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

To the original post:

Maybe what's hanging a lot of people up, including me, is the idea that a browser has but a single purpose: to browse web pages. As if web pages were this homogenous, single thing.

But browse WHAT pages, WHERE, and for WHAT purpose?

I know for a fact from personal experience that for certain purposes and environments, IE is absolutely, positively more capable than other browsers like Moz or Opera. In a Windows only environment it's tight integration with the OS can offer great advantages. And it has scripting capabilities that have no equivalents in any other browser.

However, for the PUBLIC Internet - in many ways I can see Opera as being superior.

I was thinking, is it fair to say that IE is the least capable INTERNET browser? In the sense that it's standards support is quirky and incomplete and it's UI feature set is limited compared to Moz and Opera?

With the Model T, Henry Ford convinced himself that he had the ultimate automobile for all time. Summed up by the oft quoted, "Our customers can have any color car they want, as long as it's black!"
And it was this thinking that frustrated a yearning in the marketplace for variety. Vehicles that looked different and served different purposes. The wants and needs of a family of four are quite different from those of a single male aged 21. In just a few years, the Ford Motor company was reduced to being an also-ran by General Motors whose marketing philosophy was rooted in variety.

We might not be far away from a time when the average computer user will want (and need) more than one browser on the desktop.
What's the most capable browser for dial-up connections where caching and read-ahead ability is important?
What's the most capable browser for those with sight impairments?
What's the most capable browser for those who spend more than four hours a day online?
What's the most capable browser for families with small children?

One size does not fit all. And the day might not be far off where users will launch a different browser - depending on where they're going and what they want to do - in the same way they change their shoes.

I dunno... just thinking out loud and trying to stay on topic.

plumsauce




msg:593361
 7:41 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

IMHO, EWEEK seems to have a certain slant towards
open source.

Last April, they created quite a stir when they published
a claim that digest authentication is broken in IE and IIS.
The article included a response from the Apache Foundation
that since IE was not compliant with rfc2617 then Apache
would not be changed to accommodate the problem.

If Apache is in the "business" of growing market share
as a web server, then it is somewhat puzzling that they
do not want to accomodate interoperability with the
overwhelming market leading browser.

In the process of developing a new isapi filter for
digest authentication on iis, we had occasion to
obtain and examine copies of the network traces
for the actual tests carried out by EWEEK.

Our conclusions were:

A/ the tests were less than exhaustive or rigorously
controlled,(in our opinion)

B/ all the browsers tested had individual response
anomalies that were at odds with rfc 2617

C/ the IE/IIS interpretations of the rfc were the most
compliant of the bunch

D/ all browser anomalies could be accommodated using
conditional coding

As a third party developer, we had no access to either
IE or IIS source code. But we could and did observe
the behaviour over the network and read the relevant rfc's.

EWEEK was offered the information to publish a followup
clarification in January, 2003. We have never heard
back from them.

The original claim was slashdotted, yet nowhere can
there be found any clarification of the issues. Just
links back claiming how evil Microsoft is.

My point is that religious zeal can cloud good judgement.
After all, if a server vendor(Apache) understands what
a client is doing wrong, why not code around it? Until
Apache can do digest authentication with IE browsers,
basic authentication is going to be the only option.
You can't mandate a switch in browsers all at once,
but it is at least feasible to upgrade a server under
your control.

If you are in the business of web publishing, should
you really care what the client uses and are you in
a position to change that?

cminblues




msg:593362
 8:50 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

After all, if a server vendor(Apache) understands what a client is doing wrong, why not code around it?

Perhaps, because the people that made the client, claims no errors on his side.
I mean that we know, from the past, the Microsoft's attitude not only to breaking the standards,
but also to introduce new ones.

So, why Apache people would have to correct something that Microsoft do not admit as error?

Hester




msg:593363
 8:52 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

We might not be far away from a time when the average computer user will want (and need) more than one browser on the desktop.

Excellent point. The problem is that most users haven't heard of Mozilla or Opera. And why would they bother to change when they have a browser built in to Windows already?

One good thing Moz and Op allow is skins. Sadly I agree the default skins for Moz are horrendous - one is even the same as Netscape 4! The first thing I do when installing it is download the Orbit 3+1 theme. That looks great. However, I hear Firebird has a new skin, which I look forward to seeing.

Netscape 6 had a great flat colour look when they were developing it, but when it got released, it was a hideous purple 3D affair that I simply cannot stomach. There were many alternative skins available though. But when Netscape 7 was released, none of them would work! So now there are only TWO skins for that browser. The second one is an awful kiddies skin in bright yellow.

A lot of people seem to dislike the new Opera skin with 3D buttons, but I quite like it myself.

Me wonders what IE7/Longhorn will look like...

penfold25




msg:593364
 8:58 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I just think we are all lucky that IE was forced to use Java, i remember a while back when Microsoft wAnted to scrap it off IE but then were forced to keep it on.

Imagine if Microsoft did that,...
actually i dont wanna think about it

Josk




msg:593365
 9:29 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

TheWhippinpost:
>Josk; No, i'm not going to specifically name each, or for that matter any of them individually 'cos it'll just split the debate into yet further strands, plus I don't wanna open myself up for ridicule ;¬)

>Suffice to say if you know IE in any depth, you'll know there is stuff available that isn't supported by the w3c.

Um...I thought that I made it clear in my post that I've stopped using IE because I don't see any clear advantage of using it... Since you don't wish to support your choice, I still can't see any reason for supporting IE.

I'm not trying to bash you, flame you or anything such. Just trying to work out why anyone who knew that there was a choice would use IE. And that, I think, is the crux of the discussion. 95% don't know there is a choice so they don't use it. People use what they know, what they are familiar with, even if its outdated.

penfold25




msg:593366
 9:35 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

The way IE is integrated into the desktop makes it a hell of a lot easier than any of the other browsers. Plus i remember using netscape products years ago, they were so much faster then IE and had more features but now since computers are so much faster people cant tell the difference anymore.
Also since most ppl are on a 56k connection they cannot be bothered going to look for and download latest versions.
Why bother, it does exactly the same thing, its like a portable phone, in the end it does the same thing.

I dont like microsoft, but IE is fine for me, causes mostly problems so why fix it when it aint broke.

Its the same reason as why should ppl stop using google....

tedster




msg:593367
 9:39 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

People use what they know, what they are familiar with, even if its outdated.

Agreed -- and that's why I draw so much hope when a publication like e-week starts recommending that IT depts look at the alternative browsers. A lot of improvements can begin at work and then migrate to the home PC.

penfold25




msg:593368
 9:54 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

i actually disagree with that, my personal belief that ibm compatible pc's took off initally was because of pc games and that kids copied other kids who then encouraged there parents to buy them pc's(even though they persuaded them it was for education). I never used netscape because of the business world, i never used DOS because of the business world. It all came about i believe because there was clear advantages in using it.

Why did CD's take off immediately.....because it was clearly way better than CD in sound quality, but its real core benefit was not having to fast forward to listen to next track, just skipped tracks.

I believe people dont buy things because things are better or faster , but rather for the core benefit.

Hester




msg:593369
 9:55 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I dont like microsoft, but IE is fine for me, causes mostly problems so why fix it when it aint broke.

Because it is broke. I'm tempted to make a definite list of all the bugs in IE. Bugs that won't now be fixed. At least the bugs in Mozilla and Opera etc have a good chance of being fixed.

TheWhippinpost




msg:593370
 10:23 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Um...I thought that I made it clear in my post that I've stopped using IE
No, I didn't see that post, or more probably don't remember it!

I'm not trying to bash you, flame you or anything such
No I know.

Since you don't wish to support your choice, I still can't see any reason for supporting IE.

What choice?

I hold to my original reasons - To specify each unsupported item would lead to a potential splintering of the thread and besides, there are too many to mention. All i can suggest is if you're interested, pop along to MSDN where it's all well documented.

Josk




msg:593371
 11:32 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

> No, I didn't see that post, or more probably don't remember it!

Oops. That was the bit I was expecting you to read my mind for. Sorry. I stopped using IE for my main browser about a year ago, and keep for testing websites on. I occasionally use it on friends machines and am amazed they put up with it.

> What choice?

Your choice of advocating using IE as a browser.

> I hold to my original reasons - To specify each unsupported item would lead to a potential splintering of the thread and besides, there are too many to mention. All i can suggest is if you're interested, pop along to MSDN where it's all well documented.

Well... In a discussion that where people are pointing out the advantages of using Mozilla, Opera and goodness knows what else, I'd have thought some points disproving the original articles' premise that IE should no longer be used solely would be useful. Indeed other posters have given points for using IE. I'm just interested in yours, and increasingly bemused why you don't give any.

Searching MSDN...? Would love to, but I don't have the time... Can you give a specific url?

Hester




msg:593372
 12:26 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

My guess is he means all the filters and transition effects listed here:
[msdn.microsoft.com ]

Interestingly enough, Mozilla has its own set of filters you can apply, including some not listed above.

Then there are dozens of DHTML demos on MSDN which look great. I particularly like this one for creating dynamic tables:
[msdn.microsoft.com ]

These behaviors show the power of DHTML and are a great example of how you can add functionality to an ordinary HTML page and still have it display fine in older browsers.

TheWhippinpost




msg:593373
 12:32 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

>> Can you give a specific url? <<

Well, you can start here [msdn.microsoft.com...] and work ya way through the left hand menu, though if you're short of time, good luck ;¬)

Indeed other posters have given points for using IE. I'm just interested in yours, and increasingly bemused why you don't give any.

I have given some.

<added>Soz Hester, didn't mean to steal your thunder there old boy ;¬) </added>

Josk




msg:593374
 1:07 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

That's certainly interesting, and I'd agree that these are useful. Although I would argue that these are features that the user is never going to see, except through some clever browser based system. Also, relying on attributes and elements that are only available in one browsers does lead to lock into that browser. (Which Microsoft want). I'd be fine with this if Microsoft could enhance the end-users experience as well.

My main reason now for using Mozilla on Windows is the gui I get onto the web. It makes my browsing fast and efficient. Why can't Microsoft follow suit.

My second point would be that these attributes are IE only. My impression was that a web-browser was the interchangeable part any all users should be able to use the same site, o/s notwithstanding...

trismegisto




msg:593375
 1:30 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

rcflink said:
they would find out just how difficult many, many people find it to use a computer.

I partially agree with this; and this may be the reason why most of the people stays with the default browser of their systems: IE, and never ever care to change for another browser or even upgrade explorer.

The one to blame here is Microsoft, maybe they are interested in developing other things right now other than web standards (consumer electronics or whatever); but i can’t believe that the most powerful software company is not capable of employing 50, 100 or n number of programmers to focus exclusively in explorer to fix its bugs; i mean, they CAN do it, but for some reason, they don’t want to. They are interested in keeping the web just like its right now, and nobody knows why. Just imagine if explorer had the capabilities of Mozilla or Opera, the average user experience would be enhanced (for good).

This may be a good topic for another thread:
TheWhippinpost:
How many years has HTML 4 been out? How many years CSS1?...and it's still only very recently that ANY of the browsers are getting close to finally getting it right! Maybe there's a message to the w3c in there, ie... that what they set out is hard to understand or difficult to implement.

Yeah; why is this happening? This may be another variable in the ecuation…

Hester




msg:593376
 1:30 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Dave Massy from Microsoft echoes the company policy on this page [msdn.microsoft.com] from MSDN entitled "Internet Explorer 6 and Standards":

Microsoft believes very strongly in Internet standards and the standards process, and is committed to implementing appropriate standards when driven by customer demand. However, standards compliance is part of a larger effort that includes many constituencies. By innovating, and driving customer requirements into Internet Explorer and then into the standards groups, we'll make the Internet a richer platform for all users.

He adds:

The position is very clear—because a standard exists, that does not mean Microsoft will automatically implement it. Microsoft will implement appropriate standards that we believe are useful to our customers.

Looking at the first quote, this clearly shows that new ideas are going first into IE, such as filters. Then secondly into standards groups, who I take to mean the W3C. Shouldn't this be the other way round?

ricfink




msg:593377
 1:43 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hester mentioned that people can't use what they don't know about.
Exactly - I've beefed in these pages before about Opera's lack of marketing smarts. (Sorry to phrase it that way, but I think it's true.)

There should be three different versions, or levels, of Opera, each with a different class of users in mind.
Pricing, as always, is key.

I think the name Opera might be an impediment, but that can be researched and changed, if necessary.

I'm absolutely convinced that they could improve sales tremendously with a re-thinking of what kind of customers they are attempting to serve, along with an advertising push.

Millions would give it a try - as long as they are assured they will have IE to fall back on if they don't like it.

Those guys have a good product, I wish they would start thinking outside the box a little and figure out what to do with it.

Hester




msg:593378
 1:55 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Come on, their hands are tied. Or rather, you get IE free with Windows. How can Opera Software possibly get past this stumbling block? Advertising?

I'd say it's been word of mouth (or web comments) that have pushed these alternative browsers so far. Mozilla is "Open Source" meaning they could never hope to advertise in the way Microsoft can, if at all.

The point to realise though is that the programmers of Mozilla and Opera are keen to make their browsers available to as many platforms as possible - even Linux. By taking a "one platform only" approach (or more if you allow for Windows CE and other one-off developments) Microsoft are victims of their own success. Besides, it appears they don't care about all the niche markets. So long as they dominate the main one.

vincevincevince




msg:593379
 3:26 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

there are only two ways anyone can beat IE now:
1 - some really really nice crowd-pleaser features
2 - legal proceedings against microsoft to force them to distribute alternative browsers with windows, and have an option at install time

plumsauce




msg:593380
 6:06 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Cminblues wrote:

After all, if a server vendor(Apache) understands what a client is doing wrong, why not code around it?

Perhaps, because the people that made the client, claims no errors on his side.
I mean that we know, from the past, the Microsoft's attitude not only to breaking the standards,
but also to introduce new ones.

So, why Apache people would have to correct something that Microsoft do not admit as error?

ANSWER:

First, with regard to digest authentication, IE is
the MOST compliant with the relevant rfc.
I thought I had managed to make that clear without
flogging the other browsers. Senior people from
both Apache and Microsoft are listed as authors
on rfc 2617.

Second, Apache is in the "business" of operating with
client browsers. They work with other browers that
are more badly broken, but they refuse to code around
a very minor difference in interpretation of
the rfc.

In fact, after exhaustive cross referencing of the
rfc's, it appears that it is Apache that has taken
a shortcut that breaks interoperability with IE.
The shortcut involves the action to be taken when
an override is indicated during the checking of
the transmitted MD5 hash.

I was dancing around the assertion that,
IMO, it is Apache that is broken in it's compliance
with the rfc and not the other way around. Microsoft
does not need to admit to an error, because it
does not exist except in the minds of the
Apache Foundation.

In my experience, IE digest authentication works
perfectly against third party software that has
been coded to the rfc. So, if it does not work
with Apache ...


My real point is that EWEEK was apprised of this
situation and did nothing to followup on its
initial assertions.

jrs_66




msg:593381
 7:14 pm on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

ricfink--

Could you please elaborate on these 'tools' that IE provides which Mozilla doesn't? As a software engineer myself, I spend many an hour trying to trick IE into complying with standards. I find myself lowering site quality in order to get IE rendering pages correctly, similar to the old Netscape 4.X. Maybe these 'tools' are what I've been looking for...

ricfink




msg:593382
 1:42 am on Jun 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

vince, hester-

Hey, nobody's going to BEAT IE. But I believe that a niche market alongside IE can be carved out with a little ingenuity. They need to piggy-back ON TOP of IE.
There are so many users that even 5% who are willing to spend $10 for a browser that blocks pop-ups can translate into a lot of money.

I had some ideas today about how to go about it.
First, Opera is badly in need of some set-up Wizards. I swear to god I just don't have the patience to figure out all that stuff on my own. It took me a week to find out what "mouse gestures" meant.
(But I know their scripting features!)
Second, how about a setting called "Shadow Mode"?
You know how Netscape has that feature that keeps a stub version of the application running in the background so that it launches faster?
Well, in Shadow Mode, Opera would also run in the background and act as a shadow to IE. It tracks what IE does and it goes - or is totally ready to go - to wherever IE is. And when you install Opera, it creates a menu item or button somewhere in IE that says - View In Opera.
I mean, why not?
It may be a little nuts but they're getting nowhere fast, anyway. What's to lose?

I mean, look at Apple. Even though, in my opinion, there is now not a spits worth of difference in terms of ease of use between the two operating systems, Apple still bills itself as the OS that's easier and friendlier to use. And because they are the un-Microsoft, their commercials clearly target those who fancy themselves as rebellious and contrary.

AND IT WORKS.

jrs_66: I'll sticky ya about your question. Depends on what you're looking to do.

gastello




msg:593383
 10:53 pm on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>I have a nice reversal for all the folks that cap on MS and IE. If you want to make a statement, sniff for IE and send all your IE traffic to the Opera download page.

Opera is not bad, but does lack support for some fairly basic CSS2 rules, like proper padding for list-style images (latest tested 7.11). Also has issues with proper rendering of margins and padding in general. Mozilla or the new netscape would be a much better choice, and not just for this.

Also, many average users care very little, if at all, about browsers, that is if they even know what a browser is. Most [average users] simply don't know they have a choice, and the IE "e" icon simply equals "Internet" in their minds. I am often asked to help out setting up computers for friends, etc, so I wipe (hide?!?!) IE whenever I can, replace it with Netscape 7 or Mozilla, and tell people that these browsers are newer, faster, better, etc. Seems to work. People also like tabs and built-in popup blocking.

TheWhippinpost




msg:593384
 11:15 pm on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Welcome along gastello.

I am often asked to help out setting up computers for friends, etc, so I wipe (hide?!?!) IE whenever I can, replace it with Netscape 7 or Mozilla, and tell people that these browsers are newer, faster, better, etc.

So what d'ya tell 'em when they complain that sites don't look right? Surely that's doing them a dis-service!?

Hester




msg:593385
 10:27 am on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

First, Opera is badly in need of some set-up Wizards. I swear to god I just don't have the patience to figure out all that stuff on my own. It took me a week to find out what "mouse gestures" meant.

All the Opera features are clearly explained in the Help screens. Or you can look at their website. There is no need for any set-up wizards IMO.

Compare also the ease with which Opera can delete all your private data, such as bookmarks and history, from just one easily accessible screen. Whereas IE means navigating through various tabs and buttons in the Tools menu.

You know how Netscape has that feature that keeps a stub version of the application running in the background so that it launches faster?

Doesn't Opera also do this? But without an icon in the corner?

And when you install Opera, it creates a menu item or button somewhere in IE that says - View In Opera.

Well I don't know about that, but I've noticed "Edit in Mozilla" appearing in my IE menu!

The reason Opera aren't tackling IE directly is probably because it's available for more than just Windows. So they maybe see it as a waste of time. Since when did IE run on Linux, PDAs, Macs etc? :-D

futureX




msg:593386
 11:59 am on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well as far as this thread has digressed, I spent yesterday making my first HTML 4.1 VALID & CSS2 VALID design. The more I learn and the more designs I branch out into the more valid my HTML gets, so this time it was a doddle to make it valid, so maybe I will do it from now on, just to be safe ;)

Now, shoud I sell the design or use ih... hmmm...

gastello




msg:593387
 11:31 pm on Jul 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

So what d'ya tell 'em when they complain that sites don't look right? Surely that's doing them a dis-service!?

This has not been a problem yet. Neither for myself (I always use the latest stable Mozilla), nor for anybody else whom I encouraged (forced into =) using Gecko based browsers.
If somebody does complain, I will tell it like it is: the website was poorly built.

The reason Opera aren't tackling IE directly is probably because it's available for more than just Windows. So they maybe see it as a waste of time.

Not sure how one affects the other, really. What would be a good idea, though, is to release new versions cross-platform, as opposed to having OP7.11 for Win, but only OP6.xx for Mac. Although this is probably dictated by demand.

Since when did IE run on Linux, PDAs, Macs etc? :-D

Not that it really matters, but on Macs since 1996, IE 2 [blooberry.com]. On PDA's most likely since Windows CE was first released.

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