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Posted on June 19th, 2009 by Barry Collins

The real facts about Internet Explorer 8

Internet Explorer 8 tableIf there’s one thing you could never accuse Microsoft of lacking, it’s good old-fashioned Chutzpah.

The world’s favourite monopolist has launched a new “Get The Facts” campaign for Internet Explorer 8, that seems remarkably short on fact and a bit top-heavy on the codswallop.

You can see Microsoft’s version of the facts running down the left-hand side of the page, where the company has decided to compare Internet Explorer 8 against Firefox and Chrome. Yes, that’s right. Internet Explorer 8 wins in every single category, apart from a couple where it generously shares the honours with its rivals.

We could spend a couple of hours demolishing the argument for almost each and every one of those Microsoft ticks. Then again, we could spend a couple of hours shooting fish in a barrel or stealing sweets from children with only one arm, but we’ve got better things to do, so we’re just going to deal with the most blatant of Microsoft’s whoppers.

EASE OF USE

“Features like Accelerators, Web Slices and Visual Search Suggestions make Internet Explorer 8 easiest to use.”

No, they don’t. Take, for example, the very first search I typed into the search box (shown below).

IE8 errorOr go to the Weather from Bing Web Slice page and try adding to Internet Explorer and see what happens. When we tried we simply got a new window showing search results for the Weather in Brentford (we’re in central London), and no option to add a Web Slice whatsoever. Still, nice and easy, eh?

WEB STANDARDS

This one really takes the Chocolate Digestive. IE8 may finally be standards compliant, but only after a decade of Microsoft essentially dictating its own standards to web browsers. The ACID3 test is widely regarded as the most suitable test of standards compliance. On this test, IE8 scores  20/100,  Firefox 3 gets 72/100, and Chrome 2 scores a perfect pass with 100/100.

CUSTOMISABILITY

How Microsoft has the cheek to call this one as a score draw is astonishing. “Sure, Firefox may win in sheer number of add-ons, but many of the customisations you’d want to download for Firefox are already a part of Internet Explorer 8 – right out of the box,” Microsoft claims. Really? I must have missed the IE8 feature that allows me to block out ads (such as Firefox’s Ad Block Plus) type browser commands in natural language (like Mozilla’s Ubiquity) or neatly collate and edit web pages for offline viewing (with the Scrapbook add-on).

COMPATIBILITY

“Internet Explorer 8 is more compatible with more sites on the Internet than any other browser.” Only because web designers have spent the past decade adapting their sites to Microsoft’s own warped idea of web standards. Plus, Firefox users can easily install the IE Tab Add-on for those increasingly rare sites that don’t work in Mozilla’s browser – which are largely Microsoft sites anyway.

PERFORMANCE

Microsoft dismisses as a “myth” claims that Internet Explorer is much slower than Firefox and Chrome. “A lot of Firefox and Chrome advocates like to cling to micro-benchmarking page load claims to measure browser speed. But in most cases, these differences can only be viewed by slow-motion video captures.”

Nonsense. As part of our review of IE8 we opened a 16-slide presentation in Google Docs. Chrome and Firefox took 19 seconds to start the presentation, IE8 took 33 seconds. You don’t need a slow-mo camera to catch that one.

VERDICT

Internet Explorer 8 isn’t a bad browser. For day-to-day surfing, it’ll probably be fine for the vast majority of people. But these vastly over-blown claims of world supremacy hand far too much free ammunition to Microsoft bashers.

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9 Responses to “ The real facts about Internet Explorer 8 ”

  1. Ed Lanphier Says:
    June 19th, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    I agree with your article.

    Another point: Firefox already has a neat version of IE8 Accelerators called Kallout-Accelerator for Firefox, see https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/10722

    Apparently KallOut is compatible with IE8 Accelerators. Plus, it automatically selects which accelerator to use based on the content of the text you select.

    Ed

     
  2. c6ten Says:
    June 19th, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Anybody who takes Microsoft’s marketing department at their word needs their head examining. This sort of crap is routine, coming from Microsoft. Vista wouldn’t have been such a collossal fail if MIcrosoft’s critics had discounted the nonsense that attended its’ launch. Likewise this blog post wouldn’t be necessary if we just agreed that Microsoft are liars and cheats and stopped listening to them.

     
  3. R3Person Says:
    June 19th, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    This article has many factual issues. I get the sense that your arguments weren’t well-researched. I will now point out the truth:

    Bing Weather web slice: works fine here in the United States.

    Web standards: “The ACID3 test is widely regarded as the most suitable test of standards compliance.” < Frankly, that’s bullcr*p. Acid3 tests things that are nowhere near being actual standards yet, and will probably change significantly before they do become standards. The best test for *actual* web standards is the Acid2 CSS test, which IE8 passes with a perfect score. In fact, IE8 has even better CSS 2.1 support than other browsers.

    Customizability: Microsoft means the UI. IE8’s UI features can be added, removed, or moved around pretty much any way you want. And IE does have add-ons. But for ad blocking in particular, it has one built in: InPrivate filtering can be used to block ads. Just Google it.

    Performance: there’s more to the web than just Google Docs. IE8 actually renders (and interacts with) GMail much faster on my machine than even Chrome does. And on 95% of the web, the difference in speed between IE8 and other browsers won’t be noticeable to the eye.

    All that being said, Firefox can certainly become a much better browser with enough add-ons (which also slow it down). But IE8 has the second best out-of-box experience (after Opera, which no one seems to mention in browser comparisons).

     
  4. Brian Munt Says:
    June 20th, 2009 at 9:01 am

    I am using windows 7 with internet explorer 8 and would like to add my views. Internet Exporer 8 is opening many music blog-spots and after a few seconds terminating the action claiming it can not open the site you are on ! It then ‘crashes’ and you have to exit the Explorer back to Windows ! I have e-mailed Microsoft asking whether this is a deliberate policy ( as some sites are fine ) or yet another poor Microsoft product that has been foisted on us.

     
  5. Cathal Says:
    June 21st, 2009 at 12:48 am

    I run Windows 7 and have to say the Chrome takes up less resources than IE8. Granted IE8 comes with alot more out of the box features which I use on my main machine but that has 8 GB’s of RAM and a Quad core processor so I dont really care how much it takes, but on my laptop with only 1GB of RAM i much prefer Chrome.

     
  6. drew30000 Says:
    June 30th, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Thanks for posting this. I decided to pdating my work PC, which is asking me if I want it right now. I’ve been toiling to make websites work with IE6 and 7 for years now and was hoping that IE8 would “join world community” (to borrow from an Obama speech) of web standards instead of continuing down its “beligerent path.” (borrowing again). In particular, it doesn’t make my life easier that IE8 doesn’t support HTML5 or CSS3.

    Furthermore, a post at How To Create (http://www.howtocreate.co.uk/ie8.html) reports “several regressions since IE 7 that cause problems with the display of various pages.” Just what we all need after already going to the trouble of creating IE-specific stylesheet fixes.

    I’m not a web standards zealot, and how much I adhear to them depend on whether I’m doing the project for my own amusement or for cash. That said, they all are basically conforming to a set of accepted methods that allow them appear right on most all browsers, and it’s sort of offensive that this one company continues to play by its own rules simply because it thinks it’s big enough to ignore them.

    I realize this concept doesn’t have much support, but some revolutionary spirit would be nice, in which we could say to IE that these are the standards we are developing sites by now, get on board or be left behind. More non-geek websites should come with links to web standards browsers in their footers or sidebars that encourage people to switch.

     
  7. Rob Thomas Says:
    June 30th, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    There’s a great deal of talk here regarding technical issues which, whilste important, are not where the VAST majority of users generate their experience. I’m talking about Mr & Mrs average Joe Surfer. We judge our experience predominantly on speed. And I don’t care about bench marks and the like, I care about MY experience.

    I had been using IE from my first experience of computers in the early 90s, up until when Chrome was launched. I have to say, as far as speed is concerned, Chrome blows IE out of the water. Plain and simple.

    Okay, I’ve had a few chrome compatability issues (Just today, coincidentally) but if we’re talking compatability issues, lets talk about Vista, eh?

     
  8. LUKE Says:
    August 16th, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    This article is just an advertisement for the Internet Explorer 8.
    Most of the time, I use Chrome, then Safari, then Firefox and lastly when all fail, I use IE, whch always has some issues with it particularly, using all pc’s memory and freezing up. And it doesn’t matter if it’s Vista or XP.
    I’m afraid I tried before and had only problems in both OS.
    Microsoft really sucks in the reliability and speed except for the use of use.

     
  9. Computer speed Says:
    October 3rd, 2010 at 12:00 am

    IE8 is slow, just open up a modern web page in IE8 and then Chrome, Firefox etc. and spot the difference instantly. I come across is all the time, and because of this I’ve tired or IE and just use Chrome day in/day out. It’s not my default browser.

    J.

     

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