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A shot across IE's bow

posted by DL Byron on April 13, 2005

In another example of why I design, develop, and test for Internet Explorer last, Dave Hyatt responds to the release of the Acid2 Test by jumping right in, testing his browser, and blogging the whole process. Compare to that to Scoble’s initial response and the lack of any word yet from Microsoft and you can nearly conclude that MS just doesn’t care. I say nearly because Scoble has been working on connecting WaSP and the IE team, but soon the time will come when the creative professionals and developers may say, “put up or shut up.”

The reasons to speculate on why MS doesn’t care are endless. They’re not cool, there’s no money in Standards, they’re too big, security, etc. What I’ve concluded is that IE is a huge dev time suck and I’m not alone. My clients feel the same way. Early this year, we delivered a project that was spec'd specifically for Firefox and not IE. One client emailed

"I'm a Mozilla convert. Not that I liked IE that much anyway, but I really dig Mozilla. If it only worked for MS active-x crap then I could ditch IE all together."

It’s guaranteed in a project that IE will be the most troublesome to deal with and you can find comments in code like:

  • /* added to workaround an IE 5 Mac bug, IE/Win seems to need it too */
  • /* hide the HR from CSS browser that use the above styles, necessary because IE Win is inept at styling HRs */
  • /* for smart browsers */

And those comments are rather tame. View source on sites and you'll find worse. Talented and smart developers work at MS and updates to their dev products are expected to improve standards support. Those guys, including Robert get it, but IE is still their Achilles’ heel. Our struggles are nothing to compared to what I expect a software company, especially Microsoft, must have when dealing with IE.

Congrats to Dave Hyatt and the community for a positive response to the Acid2 Test. Microsoft, you're up next. Robert and all of us have done our part. The time is now.

For more on Acid2 Test, see the WaSP press release. Also note that I'm a member of WaSP.


Dave Hyatt's has nearly completed the test and Dean Edwards is tracking it on his site and predicting a horse race. Mozilla is tracking and discussing Acid2 on Bugzilla.

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Apr 13  |  Robert Scoble said:

We definitely care. It’s just a huge job when you have such a sizeable installed base. I wish it only were a couple of devs who could change a few hundred lines of code and then magically comply. Real life is far more complex than that when you have hundreds of millions of people using your technology and when you have thousands of products that rely on IE. For instance, look at how the Virtual Server team uses IE: http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=57064

IE is also localized in something like 26 languages and also needs to be tested on several OS configurations.

Oh, not to mention that our customers are asking for things ahead of Web standards (solve the security issues, being the main one, but customers when we do surveys are also asking for other stuff ahead of web standards).

But, that’s all excuses. The team says they will be in touch soon.

Apr 13  |  -b- said:

Thanks for the comment and update on the team. I’m really looking forward to hearing from them. I also appreciate the work you’ve done to date on forwarding standards at MS. Remarkbly, on the same day as Acid2 Test, Nielsen//NetRatings released their browser stats showing 237 percent growth for Firefox. The challenges await.

Apr 13  |  Dean Edwards said:

I have high hopes of the WaSP/MS Task Force thing. I hope it doesn’t peter out to nothing…

Apr 13  |  whalt said:

Regarding Mr. Scoble’s comments about what end users of IE are asking for let me just remind him of some famous words a man once said, “Developers, developers, developers, developers…”

Apr 13  |  Jason Garber said:

I had the chance to meet Mr. Scoble at SXSW during breakfast at the Hampton Inn (who wasn’t staying there?) and naturally this topic came up. One reason given for the lack of innovation/development/what have you is that IE has zero ROI. It’s free software, so what’s the benefit in investing time/money to work on it. Hopefully enough clamor is being made and someone over in Redmond will listen to the web standards community’s cries.

Apr 14  |  -b- said:


That’s debatable and one could argue a problem directly related to monopoly. When you own the market, what’s the incentive to innovate? I think it’s more that the developers are focused on security and not adding new features, functionality, or compliance to standards.

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