IE8: Don't get the facts. Get Reality.

Facts are meant to be true aren't they? Microsoft, or should that be Windows since they are marketing it as "Windows Internet Explorer 8", seem to have put their own spin on the truth by providing a list of 10 reasons that IE8 is sooo much better than Firefox and Chrome. Yes, just Firefox and Chrome, not Opera and not Safari. I don't really care for Opera (have never used it), but the absence of Safari is just a little too obvious. Clearly they are aware that Safari probably beats IE8 in these 10 claims of awesomeness (and about 1000 others) and didn't want to challenge Apple. Either that or they still believe that Safari is a Mac only browser, don't laugh, I wouldn't be surprised at all. Is ignorance or denial the first sign that you have a problem?

Let's take a look at the wonderful claims being made by the peeps at IE8, text referenced from screen shots taken by Chris Messina (factoryjoe ← my favourite flickr stream) on the 19th and 20th of June 2009, (here: 19th and here: 20th).

Security (IE8 only)

Internet Explorer 8 takes the cake with better phishing and malware protection, as well as protection from emerging threats.

Ok, first problem, by only placing a 'tick' next to IE8 they are essentially claiming that Firefox and Chrome have no security features, especially to someone who just skims down the list and doesn't read their provided explanations. They do this on 6 or 7 of the other "reasons" below too.

I haven't been a full-time Windows user for almost 3 years, but back then most of the "malware" and "emerging threats" had more to do with the fact that 99% of the viruses that the scum out there were writing and distributing only targeted machines running Windows, than it did with the actual browser. Yes the browser can add an intermediate step to help prevent some of these "threats" but in many cases the user themselves should be more responsible, if they want to visit dodgy sites and download, umm, "screensavers" and other sorts of "entertainment" then they should be aware that they are putting their lovely Windows machine at risk of infection. Maybe if Microsoft had plugged all the security holes in their swiss-cheese operating system sooner it wouldn't have become as big an issue.

Even better get a Mac, you won't have to worry about IE and its highly unlikely you'll get any viruses.

Privacy (IE8 only)

InPrivate Browsing and InPrivate Filtering help Internet Explorer claim privacy victory.

Claiming victory because you left out the competitor that includes the features doesn't make you the victor. Safari has had "Private browsing" mode for a long time, and Firefox is introducing something similar in version 3.5 which should be out soon.

Ease of Use (IE8 only)

Features like Accelerators, Web Slices and Visual Search Suggestions make Internet Explorer 8 easiest to use.

Ease of use is not won by adding features that 10% of people will use, its achieved by making the software, uh durr, easier to use. From what I can tell IE8 still looks and feels like IE7, with its odd arrangement of menus and buttons splattered all over the top portion of the screen in a completely different manner to most other Microsoft software. Although they've at least continued this trend in the latest version of Office with that stupid 'ribbon' menu/palette crap. A web browser is core to many computer users need, there should be no learning curve.

Web Standards (IE8, FF, GC)

Yes, two quotes, they changed their text... wonder why.

It's a tie. Internet Explorer passes more of the World Wide Web Consortium's CSS 2.1 test cases than any other browser, but Firefox 3 has more support for some evolving standards.

...or one day later...

Firefox and Chrome have more support for emerging standards like HTML5 and CSS3, but Internet Explorer 8 invested heavily in having world-class, consistent support for the entire CSS2.1 specification.

Oh, this is priceless, anyone got a camera I'd like a photo of little IE8 playing with the grownups. Its like a high school basketballer claiming they are better than players in the NBA because they have a better free throw percentage. In other words, its bull shit.

So yes, you've FINALLY got CSS2.1 support, welcome to 5 years ago. IE8 is still so far behind its not even humorous anymore, its just sad. They (now) say that IE8 invested heavily in having world-class CSS2.1 support, great but that would have been a nice thing a few years ago, real browsers have moved on to this radical thing called CSS3, and you Internet Explorer are holding the world back by not implementing even the most basic parts of it.

For starters, border radius, Safari and Firefox (although it took until v3 for it to be 'nice') have had this for a long time, and yet with this first new version of IE in years we still don't get it. Why?

Declaring a tie is a bit of a cop out, I'm pretty sure I could put together a page that would look perfect in Safari, Firefox, Chrome and Opera and would still need some dirty, dirty hack to look 'right' in IE8.

Internet Explorer is the mortal enemy of web developers and designer across the world, and with version 8 it doesn't make things better it makes them worse. Now we have three fucking versions of IE to fight with. Wonderful.

Developer Tools (IE8 only)

Again two days, two quotes, and this time they even changed which browser they awarded a 'tick' to.

Of course Internet Explorer 8 wins this one. There's no need to install tools separately, and it offers better features like Javascript profiling.

...or one day later... (IE8, FF3)

Internet Explorer 8 has the most comprehensive developer tools built in, including HTML, CSS and JavaScript editing, but also JavaScript profiling; other browsers have developer tools available, but either require you to download the separately, or aren't as complete.

"Of course"? Are they serious? Apparently not, since they removed that bit.

Heaven forbid that us developers need to download a browser addon to check css and a js errors... regular users don't give a toss, so why clutter up their experience and add unwanted confusion by making it a bundled "feature"? Why Microsoft, why?

I'm also pretty sure that Safari's web inspector shits on, and then sets fire to, whatever rubbish tools IE8 has added.

Abuse and insults aside, it has to be better than what was in IE6/7, especially in regards to javascript errors. "Error at Line 1, Character 0" - gee thanks IE, that's useful for debugging my 4000 line javascript file, thanks. If they've fixed that issue alone it will be an improvement.

Reliability (IE8 only)

Only Internet Explorer 8 has both tab isolation and crash recovery features; Firefox and Chrome have one or the other.

And what about the reliability and crash recovery features of the operating system the people have to use if they want to use your stupid browser? Oh, they don't have any, ok...

Customizability (IE8, FF, GC)

Sure, Firefox may win in shear number of add-ons, but many of the customizations you'd want to download for Firefox are already part of Internet Explorer 8 - right out of the box.

More features does not a better product make.

Especially features that 90% of people won't use. What about the features we do want though, things that are included in Safari and Firefox "out of the box" things like CSS3, and "being not shit", are there at least IE8 plugins for those?

Compatibility (IE8 only)

Internet Explorer 8 is more compatible with more sites on the Internet than any other browser.


Are they serious? Must be, they haven't changed the wording yet. Wake up and smell reality you idiots, Internet Explorer is not compatible with websites, websites are compatible with IE.

If the world hadn't spent the last 8 years building websites and then fixing them to work with the fucked up web standards implementation in IE6/7 then nothing would work in IE8.

Also, adding "IE7 compatibility mode" or "render as IE7" or whatever the hell its called achieves nothing, we still have to test everything in all those modes because there is no way of knowing what the user is going to have selected as their default.

Internet Explorer, you are the cause not the solution, please crawl into a hole and die. Thanks.

Manageability (IE8 only)

Neither Firefox nor Chrome provide guidance or enterprise tools. That's just not nice.

...or one day later...

Neither Firefox nor Chrome provide guidance or enterprise tools.

Someone at Microsoft must have found out they had a 5 year old writing their promo material and stepped in the make that small wording change.

How about this for a reason. Regular people aren't enterprises, so enterprise tools are pointless for a large percentage of the population.

What is with Microsoft's fascination with "enterprise" anyway, its like they think it makes them sound better or something. Either that or they are just closet Star Trek fans.

Performance (IE8, FF, GC)

Knowing the top speed of a car doesn't tell you how fast you can drive in rush hour. To actually see the difference in page loads between all three browsers, you need slow-motion video. This one's also a tie.

Another tie? really? Ok, if you say so.

Reports say that IE8 is definitely quicker than IE6/7, but its not nearly as fast as Firefox (which itself isn't always that great, FF3.5 is apparently a big improvement though), and if this were a race into outer-space, Safari would be beyond Pluto before IE8 had reached Mars.

IE8 you're not fast, you probably never will be. Get over it, or simply switch to cross platform rendering engine that works. Y'know something like Webkit.

The points I've discussed above are based on what their "browser comparison chart" said on the 19th and 20th of June 2009, you can see the list here, no doubt its probably changed again, and if it hasn't it will, just give it time.

But wait there's more

The good folk at Microsoft also provide a set of 8 reasons to install IE8, they even put them under a heading of "What's so great about Internet Explorer 8?"

In summary, because if I go into detail I'll write another 2000 words, the 8 reasons are: it's faster than ever, it's easier than ever, it's safer than ever, keep up with the stuff that matters to you, see any site easily, recover from crashes quickly, surf with more privacy and make it yours.

I agree with about, umm, zero of them, but you can check out their reasons for the reasons here.

As I see it the only reason you should install IE8 is if you're currently using IE6 or IE7, and are too brainwashed to switch to a real browser. People who actually like using the internet need not bother.

What next?

Well from Microsoft we can probably count on seeing Internet Explorer 9 in 2013, and it probably still won't support CSS3 or HTML5, if we're lucky we might get that for IE10 in 2020 by which time Firefox and Safari with have release a dozen major upgrades none of which Microsoft will see as important enough to implement themselves for another 10 or so years.

One can only wonder what the Internet Explorer crew will "invent" next? In IE7 that 'invented' this new thing called RSS... or not, but for Joe Average IE7 was probably the first time he'd encountered this new fangle thing, so to him its a Microsoft invention. This time its 'Web slices', which sounds an awful lot like Safari's web clips. Just saying.

But don't just take our word for it. Download Internet Explorer 8 today to see for yourself.

But don't just take my word for it. Don't Download Internet Explorer 8 today and save yourself the headaches.