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Doug's Mailbag: A Hate Letter to Internet Explorer

One reader gets it all of his chest on why he does not like Microsoft's Web browser:

I used IE in 1996 on both Mac and PC, even thought it was a slow and horrible browser that crashed often -- and no, it wasn't the Windows 95 machine (even though that crashed often as well).

Move forward to 2012: IE is still a slow and horrible browser. And it still crashes. I seriously doubt IE 10 will reverse this trend even though it is already being hyped by Microsoft. Oh, I'm sure IE 10 will be the latest and greatest according to all the writers and experts, but give it a few months for the new smell to wear off and take another look. As for Mac users running IE, I do not personally know of any.

The only thing I think IE has going for it is its two main historically consistent features that every user can count on: slow speed and crashing (which many blame on the Web sites they were on).

Add to that the fact that there is a cumulative security patch for IE every two or so months that both rebuilds the browser and also resets some of your IE settings during the process, and you have easily got what I consider the worst browser available. I don't care what anybody else says in favor of it, it is a horrible browser! If you run a network like I do, you can count on having to push the proper IE template settings out to the entire domain all over again every time there is a cumulative IE update released.

So what is IE good for? Microsoft updates and the few corporate Web sites that require it for them to work properly -- and absolutely nothing more. Don't believe me? I know of two huge corporations (that have to remain nameless) that are currently in the middle of a three-year, $8-million rewrite of the entire corporate Web site and all its applications to upgrade and get away from dependence on Internet Explorer. Wasted time in these environments and wasted productivity equals wasted money. One of these corporations has already done a benchmark study and the results show that by switching from IE to Firefox, the employee time savings and productivity increase alone will amount to about 2.5 months of payroll every year -- way more than paying for everyone's annual vacation time.

When IE 9 was first released, every tech writer out there was hyping how fast it was. Well, the only thing it beat Chrome or Firefox on for speed was Java page loads (and there is a lot more to a browser than Java page load speed), and it wasn't in reality all that much faster. That speed brag lasted for about three or four weeks. How does it compare now?

Why do so many people use IE? Simple -- it comes for free with the computer they bought, and many users either don't know that there are other choices or they are too cautious to try something else. For the past 15 years, everyone I have ever introduced to Netscape, Firefox, Chrome or Opera have permanently switched, use IE only for what absolutely requires it, and have never looked back.

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Posted by Doug Barney on 05/23/2012 at 1:19 PM

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Reader Comments:

Sat, Feb 2, 2013 dd

It is apparent none of the commenters are developers...If only you realize the pain and agony your love of IE inflicts on developers the world over!

Wed, May 30, 2012 Tom S

Dana - Same here, IE9 works well for us although I do occassionally use FF but mostly because setting the screen colors works as expected in FF but not in IE9. Also you mentioned you couldn't find the "File tab in the Menu Bar", what did you mean? My menu bar has File, Edit, View, Fav, Tools, Help.

Tue, May 29, 2012 Dana Taylor Iowa

Dave - I'm not sure what versions of IE you were using but I have not experienced any of the issues you described in your post. I tried several versions of FireFox after i heard how great it was. It crashed daily. I tried several versions of Netscape. Same thing except that sometimes I had to reboot to clear everything up. I tried Chrome and, like most Google products, it seemed to be an unfinished beta product. I even tried Safari and also found it to be lacking. And, anyone that authors software or web pages for a specific browser should be fired on the spot. I am currently running IE-9 and am very happy with it except for the fact that it is missing the "Send" option and "File" tab in the Menu Bar. Maybe there is a setting I have missed but so far it hasn't been worth the effort to rectify it. I can always cut and paste the URL into an e-mail message.

Thu, May 24, 2012

Hmm,,, what sites cause it to do something weird?

Thu, May 24, 2012 Richard

I agree with the author. I can't stand IE. Its always doing something weird and then I bring up the same web site in Chrome or Firefox and viola! It works. Ie is a big pain as far as I'm concerned....

Thu, May 24, 2012 JC Seattle, WA

I abandoned Firefox several years ago due to its memory leak that never seemed to be fixed. Chrome may be faster, though I'd like to see some numbers. I've gone back to IE after using both FF and Chrome. Doesn't really matter to me as it's almost impossible to properly administer Chrome in an enterprise environment. GPOs are extremely limited and every release presents a whole new opportunity for troubleshooting and time wasted by end users who've had their browser experience completely change from the previous version. I just wasted most of an entire day trying to figure out if I could remediate the damage done to the user experience in release 19.0.1084.46 only to have it apparently resolved in release 19.0.1084.52; < 7 days after the previous release. Since 9/27/11 I've tracked 20 new releases of Chrome. Each release behaves differently on installation and how it responds to GPOs. The last four ADMX templates provided by Google were corrupt. In my view IE is boringly stable which is something we can take to the bank since resources aren't regularly squandered simply trying to get some functionality out of the browser. Bash IE all you want. I see no compelling reason to change even though we're being forced to (decisions driven by Gmail not functioning properly in IE/FF/Opera, etc.) As far as I can tell Firefox and Google don't understand enterprise computing. You wouldn't believe the confused looks I get from Google engineers when I ask about enterprise issues. Clueless. -- End of Chrome bash (for now).

Thu, May 24, 2012 Mr. X Midwest

IE can be bashed for not having a built-in spellchecker, but IE 10 will finally have a built-in spellchecker. That alone is reason to move to IE10 when it comes out. Critical for those of us using web apps who don't want to pay for a reliable spell-checker.

Thu, May 24, 2012 Mike Long Island, NY

Enough Microsoft bashing already. I use IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. I find IE to be the best. I never have a problem with it. It never crashes, updates never reset my settings, etc. Sounds like user error to me.

Wed, May 23, 2012

I use IE 9 99% of the time and you know what? It just works. The only complaint I really have is that when you want to specity the COLORS of the web page (i.e. Internet Options > Colors) it doesn't work as I would expect whereas FF does. So for example, set the background color to black and the foreground to green. Then click on the ACCESSIBILITY button and check the box that says IGNORE COLORS SPECIFIED ON WEBPAGES, and you'll see many webpages don't render as expected (this page included). But set the same color scheme using FF and it does.

Wed, May 23, 2012 Michael Schore NC

By the way, as someone who survived Browser Wars I, don't even get me started on Netscape. The Mozilla and Google crowds are doing the same thing all over again creating proprietary extensions to standards that aren't even finalized. What arrogance!

Wed, May 23, 2012 Michael Schore NC

Sounds like typical user error to me. I have tried all the other browsers out there and I'm forced to use FireFox in my job (an abomination name Blackboard is used at my school). I always come back to IE, especially since the release of IE 9. I have never had IE break in all the time I've used it. I hear a lot about this add-on or that add-on but what I want is a browser to work. If I need another functionality I will get a tool that does that thing.

Wed, May 23, 2012 Wyatt

Disagree. I've used them all and came to the conclusion that its just easier to use whatever built in tool is available, as long as the job gets done. As a sys admin, mgmt of anything besides IE is a nightmare. The 2 companies mentioned should have designed their sites to work with all browsers in the first place, you know, like a developer should. However, there is one nice feature with FF, which is greasemonkey.

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