Casual web users probably find this chart amusing, but my fellow web professionals know how close it comes to the truth. Today, I’d like you to take note of the giant yellow section in the top, right-hand corner that indicates, “Time spent trying to get the bastard to work in Internet fucking Explorer.”
In case you don’t already know, Internet Explorer is an abyssmal web browser. Here are just a few reasons why.
- It’s insecure. Due in part to its popularity and in part to its security vulnerabilities, Internet Explorer is frequently targeted by hackers as an easy way to spread viruses. I’m not a desktop support specialist, but every time I help someone out with their computer, I advise them to download something else for their web browsing, if only out of security concerns.
- It creates more work for web developers. CSS is the language that controls how websites are supposed to display. On almost every website I build, I have to make special CSS to deal with improper implementation in the three most popular versions of Internet Explorer. Yes, that’s custom styling for each of them individually. Internet Explorer is the only browser that needs such special handling. Multiply this by the number of websites being created by web developers every day and we’re talking about centuries of wasted man hours.
- It doesn’t automatically update. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox both update automatically. Thus, if security vulnerabilities or bugs ever crop up, they’re patched rapidly in every distribution of the software connected to the internet. This is how it should work. Internet Explorer doesn’t do this; if you get an update, it only comes as an update to your core Windows installation. As proof, look at the larger percentage of users still using Internet Explorer 6, now two full versions behind the main software. If anything has lead to Internet Explorer’s pervasive security and compatibility problems, it’s this.
- It’s always playing catch-up. Tabbed browsing, for example, really came into vogue in the past few years, but for the longest time, Internet Explorer has refused to embrace it like its competitors. Sure, it’s got tabs now, but its implementation of tabs is terrible compared to Chrome or Firefox. One gets the sense that Microsoft wants to dictate what users want rather than listen and truly innovate.
- It’s only popular because it is the default on computers running Windows. Period. If people were given the choice right from the start, Internet Explorer would have lost the browser battle long ago. The fact is, most people don’t even realize they have a choice.
If you use it, chances are good you don’t know any better; after all, it’s what came on your computer. Let this be your wake-up call. You have alternatives. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are outstanding, completely free, more secure, and offer an all-around better user experience than IE.
I believe in this strongly enough that I’ve signed Ward on the Web up as a supporter of IE 6 No More. If you visit Ward on the Web in IE 6, you’ll get a special message telling you that you need to upgrade.
Personally, though, I don’t think that goes far enough. Internet Explorer has a bad enough history that the most up-to-date versions should be suspect. Thus, I proudly advocate that not only IE 6, but all versions of Internet Explorer, should be discarded in favor of better alternatives.