Internet Explorer

Lately a lot of talk has been going on around Microsoft’s web browser Internet Explorer (IE). This is my contribution.

First I want to go back in history. The first graphical browser NCSA Mosaic 1.0 was available in 1993 (I was one of its happy users). After a little bit of hesitation Microsoft jumped on the internet train with their Internet Explorer. Between that moment and the year 2000 Microsoft came with 6 versions of their IE browser.

At that moment they had a huge monopoly in the browser market because of their monopoly in the OS market, and they sat back and relaxed.

Now, three years later (30% of the time since the creation of the World Wide Web!!!), we are still stuck with the same version, and it looks like we will have to deal with it for two more years, since Microsoft announced that they will only deliver their browsers together with Windows, and the next version of Windows (Longhorn) is scheduled for 2005.

I think they are making a mistake. It is true that they have the monopoly, but more and more people are switching to other browsers. Furthermore, technology is advancing.

More and more sites appear that make use of features that IE doesn’t support, giving users a less than perfect browsing experience. At this moment the majority of the sites still uses code specially tweaked for IE, but little by little site designers start using standards compliant code. And everybody knows that conforming to standards is not Microsofts strongest point. Their philosophy is ‘what the monopolist uses is the standard’.

That is why IE6 does not fully support CSS2, a standard created two(!) years before they created IE6.

But this is not why they are loosing users. After all, users don’t care about these things, the web designers have to make sure their pages are coded well. But IE6 is also behind on the user interface side.

Mozilla has nice features as a pop-up killer, an image manager to block unwanted images and a site navigation toolbar which lets me navigate through this site using the arrow keys on my browser.

Everybody is free to choose their browser, but I prefer a more modern browser than IE, which misses one third of the development of the Internet. At home I have installed Mozilla Firebird which has an install file of only 6 MB. Although is is still beta software, it runs perfectly on my old computer and gives me a lot more browsing pleasure than the browser installed by default.

Jeroen Sangers @jeroensangers