Why does Microsoft continue to develop new versions of Internet Explorer?

Lately I’ve been quite puzzled about the fact that Microsoft keeps on developing new versions of Internet Explorer.

Let’s consider what IE has “brought” us so far:

  • It’s infamous for being not secure. Of course the flaw in IE6 that was used to hack GMail is the best example so far.
  • It doesn’t have a javascript engine that is even worthy of being called a javascript engine because it’s just too slow to be taken seriously (see http://waynepan.com/2008/09/02/v8-tracemonkey-squirrelfish-ie8-benchmarks/)
  • It stops support for propretary “standards” (e.g., in IE8 they stopped support for VML) we web developers were forced to use because they didn’t want to adhere to the real standards (namely SVG), leaving us with nothing …
  • It has problems fading elements, especially PNG-24 with alpha. This issue has existed since IE6, and is still not solved in IE8. (note that I’m talking about fading elements, I know as of IE7 PNG-24 with alpha channel are supported without the use of behaviors and/or filters).

I could go on and on for hours, but I guess you all catch my drift.

Furthermore, it would appear the IE dev team is extremely stubborn when it comes to standard, and disappoints us web developers time and time again by not adhering to them (i.e., ignoring them completely, or bringing us their own “standards” (VML instead of SVG)).

My question is, shouldn’t it be obvious to Microsoft that they are in a browser war they can never ever win if the continue down the path that they’re on now? What’s stopping them from discontinuing Internet Explorer all together and leave browser development over to companies who have proved to be much, much better at it, or, what does Microsoft has to gain by continuing to provide this “service” called Internet Explorer to the world ?

Disclaimer: I’m dead serious. This thread is not intended to troll or flame in any way!

if your question had ended right there, the obvious answer is “yes” and this thread would be over

but here’s where the question turns completely south

why should it be obvious that they cannot win?

i have no idea what sorts of resources microsoft has committed to browser development, but i can imagine that these are sufficient to continue to make positive changes to their browser

by providing better and better versions of their browser, microsoft continues to satisfy their customers and improve their browsing experience

what is so puzzling about that?

also let’s not forget that 99.937% of all internet users are ~not~ web developers

i love internet explorer and i won’t switch


You didn’t quote the whole sentence, which was

… can never ever win if they continue down the path that they’re on now

Extrapolating from IE6 to IE7 to IE8 in terms of standards supporting and browser speed, to newer versions, I’m estimating Internet Explorer has to hit version 13 or 14 before it comes even close to where FF, Safari and Chrome are now …

True as that may be, why would a user choose for a browser that is insecure and slow, while there are multiple browsers out there that are secure and fast?

And I know, some people don’t even know what a browser is, but I know several that know what it is, and arguments like “faster and more secure” don’t convince them to use other browsers, as they like “to stick to what they know”.
like FF, Chrome, Safari and Opera are SO different from Internet Explorer… They all have an address bar in rougly the same location, and they display websites …

PS. r937, If you really do use Internet Explorer (I’m guessing you’re being sarcastic), may I ask why?

i just dont understand how a company with that much money can keep producing browsers that dont support web standards and proper coding.

they seem to be doing it on purpose now makes me :mad:

because (a) they don’t know or care that they even have a choice, and (b) they have absolutely no evidence that their browser is insecure and slow

no, i was being completely honest

i use IE because i love IE, always have

i have tried phoenix/firebird/firefox, and i have tried opera, and they are both pretty crappy in comparison

oh, and need i add “in my opinion” to that last statement? no, i need not :slight_smile:

one thing that is obvious here, is that i’ve heard this tune for almost 15 years now…

What do you love about IE as opposed to the other options?

What did you find crappy about Firefox and Opera?

Have you tried Chrome?

a lot easier to use, especially together with windows explorer and outlook express

firefox is sloooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwww and opera is just too strange

i don’t wanna

i don’t trust it, and i do not want my browsing habits transmitted to google

All fair answers, though FF does not seem slow to me. :slight_smile:

I will agree with this it just feels weird to me when I use it. :shifty:

Yes, I’m scared of google too. :slight_smile:

Scallio, it boils down to market domination and a strategy driven by market competitiveness.

Their primary strategy is to dominate the software market, so of course, they intend to remain one of the biggest software vendors in the world. The lack of development IE suffered in the past was simply down to complacency, or rather, lack of market competitiveness.

The difference now is that they know their marketshare can’t remain as high as it once was, but all effort is to retain as much as possible (their secondary strategy).

Hence the reason why IE will continue to be developed, and why standards are largely not a primary concern for them (at least in our eyes). As long as they retain enough of the market, they need only pay lip-service to open standards.

The real ‘why’ then comes down to that strategy, and any slippage in competitiveness is unacceptable to such a large corporation and its suits in the board room, since it would negatively impact the primary strategy (market domination).

Well, that’s my understanding of it anyway. Not sure just how much people in general would agree with it, but to me it makes sense to think of it this way.

Thanks armchaircritic, that’s truely a helpful answer, and sounds very plausible.

Maybe I’ll be able to sleep again now :smiley:

To back this up, please look at javascript engine benchmarks.
(Although Chrome is even faster than FF …)

And yes, the javascript engine is not the only thing that makes or brakes a browser in terms of speed, but it is highly significant for heavy web 2.0 web apps (like google apps, or gmail)

oh, i wasn’t talking about how fast the browser is when it renders a web page

just launching the damned thing

FF completely sucks, it reminds me of adobe software

Get a nice dual core proc, 4GB internal memory and a nice SSD.
Problem solved :smiley:

(Adobe Photoshop starts on my machine in about 2 or 3 seconds).

But yes, I see your point.
Starting FF can be a real pain (especially when you have dozens of extensions, which I why I have disabled most unless I need them)

PS. What is the last version of FF you tried? Newer versions start way faster than the old ones.

How many browser extensions do you have installed?

send me a few hunnert bucks donation via paypal

problem solved


three –
Java Quick Starter 1.0
Microsoft .Net Framework Assistant 1.1
Web Developer 1.1.6

but hey, let’s not try to turn this into a “help rudy get weaned off IE” thread, because it ain’t. gonna. happen.


I remember the IE days… When the web seemed so much more simple.

I mean, IE is great for a web developer. You can develop a website based on just a single browser and know that MOST of your visitors will see it right - the others aren’t using the right kind of browser.

And SVG is over-rated, and will add bloat to such a clean, and smooth browser.

This, of course, is all total nonsense. In the eyes of the IE developers, they are doing well. Whilst they still see the present with rose-tinted glasses, they will continue to pipe out the same trash they have always piped out.

But then, I’m a Linux user - I’m bound to have such an opinion :stuck_out_tongue:

Reasonable explanation.

What you talking about?

I’ve been doing a LOT of page loading tests on my site over the past couple of months trying to speed things up as much as possible. I have been testing using IE (6 & 7), Firefox (3.5 & 3.6), Safari (4), Chrome (5.0) & Opera (10.10).

In all honesty, IE 6 & 7 are slow as a bug in syrup (especially IE6). I only have access to IE8 via a terminal server so I can’t give it a fair speed test comparison. Firefox 3.5 is faster than IE7 but I still wouldn’t call it fast. Firefox 3.6 is significantly faster. Safari is pretty good speed wise (comparable to Firefox). The real speed demons are Opera 10.10, which blows away all other browsers in my experience and I hear Opera 10.5 is faster yet. Chrome is also very fast but not quite as fast as Opera.

What really seems to kill IE 6&7 are complex CSS selectors. Get too many of compound selectors in your style sheets and IE6&7 just get bogged down. Simplifying selectors does seem to help IE6&7 tremendously.

Another thing that slows down these two are if too many object files (e.g. images) are pulled from the same domain. They will only call a couple files at a time from a specific domain so this can really slow things down. While it can help the other browsers as well, splitting objects up on to a couple domains seems to have the biggest impact IE6&7’s page loading speeds.

Again I can’t give IE8 a fair evaluation because I’m only using it remotely right now (my brother lets me access one of his computers via terminal services – he’s in VA I’m in ME).

What I do know is that for lots of technical reasons, IE6 is truly the slowest of the browser still in wide spread use. Then again, it is a tired old man so we need to cut it some slack for being slow.

The only explanation that matters (provided your not still using IE6!). :stuck_out_tongue:

In regards to Chrome I agree with you there. I also don’t like how Chrome takes away a lot of control over settings.

I’m liking the speed improvements in Firefox3.6 and have used Firefox as my primary browser for several years now. I do have to admit, however, that I’m really impressed with Opera’s overall speed. If Opera 10.5 turns out to be as fast as early reports indicate everyone else will have a lot of work to catch up.

In all fairness, for me IE8 is a huge improvement over IE7 in the standards compliance department. In my testing I have found that in standards compliance mode IE8 renders my sites very true to everyone else without me needing to make any accommodations via conditional comments. For me not having to maintain an IE8.css file is a big leap forward from IE6&7. Heck, if IE6&7 were to disappear I’d even be able to eliminate some JavaScript code I use to get cascading menus to work correctly in those two browsers as IE8 is handling the CSS hover pseudo-class very well.

launching speed, not rendering speed

i don’t like having to go get a coffee whenever i launch that browser