Why Web Developers Hate IE (6,7,8,9 and beyond)

browser wars One small company in Norway can produce a browser that is lightning fast works on almost any Operating System including most mobile phones but a giant like Microsoft with nearly limitless resources can’t even produce a browser in over 8 years (IE6 came in 2001) that is even remotely comparable to anybody else?

Now the IE Blog claims that IE9 will be better and they show a graph of how IE9 is worse than any browser out there (though better than IE8). They claim that it will be better in the future but how much better will everyone else be by the time IE9 comes out? Both Safari and Chrome use Webkit. Firefox and Opera use their own rendering engines.

Web apps are the present and the future. Everybody knows that. Also all web developers know that IE sucks so none of us use IE for anything except testing. IE is so bad that Google needed to launch a plugin that would make IE use Chrome to render web pages because there is no way some of their new and upcoming stuff would work in IE.

Back to the point. Why we web developers hate IE:

  1. Everything we make generally works flawlessly in all other browsers without much effort. Then we look at it in IE and it is all messed up, especially if you use anything that is a relatively new thing. That means we need to add hacks specifically for IE.
  2. All the versions of IE need their own hacks. But we can’t install multiple versions of IE on the same computer. So we have Virtual Machines or just separate computers or different members of our teams having different versions on their computers to test out.
  3. Every new version of IE that comes out makes our code more convoluted thanks to checks for more versions of IE.
  4. Sometimes no matter what you do, newer standards will just never make it to IE in the near future generally slowing down the progress of the web. Take for example the IE blog above. They add things like better font rendering, hardware acceleration (what good is hardware acceleration when it is accelerating something that is wrong?). The most important parts aka standards are ignored – see the 32/100 Acid 3 score. There is not even a mention of HTML5 etc.

If you read the comments, the most common comment is that Microsoft should give up on their rendering engine and just use webkit. I’m sure every web developer will jump for joy and host a party because the worst nightmare of their job – trying to be compatible with IE – will be gone. That is never going to happen so somebody summed it up in the comments:

IE is fairly analogous to the cockroach. You can step on it, blow it up and irradiate it, but now you have an annoyed radioactive abomination that’s going to go breed more annoyed radioactive abominations.

Thankfully a lot of major websites are dropping support for IE6 which hopefully will make those IE6 users out there upgrade or switch. But with IE9 there will be one more thing to test for. All of us developers want is for Microsoft to get out of the browser business. Why does Microsoft even bother spending millions of dollars to make an inferior product that is full of holes? Why can’t they just adopt the Google and Apple path of using a standard freely available engine and just improve the user experience? It can still be IE, but at least it will be a good one.

The only reason I can think that MS still works on IE is that it is integrated into everything – Windows, all their development tools and most Microsoft software somehow depends on IE. While I’m complaining here is one more – even Microsoft has a hard time developing complex apps that work in IE and other browsers. That’s why they have separate applications for Outlook web services for IE/non IE browsers.

4 thoughts on “Why Web Developers Hate IE (6,7,8,9 and beyond)

  1. Cory Web Dev says:

    Good god I agree with this 100% please Microsoft drop your sad excuse of a browser!

  2. Stuart says:

    If IE was dropped the cost of developing websites would be reduced considerably, making the world a better place for everybody, not just web developers.

  3. Graham C. Todd says:

    I can understand all this and do so 100%, but I am not a web developer nor do I know any, so don’t know if they share these views. All I can say is that as a Linux user I am glad my OS has web developers who feel that standards should be maintained (and while I am on this point what do W3C standards say?). Just because there are more Windows users around than use any other OS, why should the standards authorities be forced to change standards to fit in with Microsoft?

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