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Microsoft and IE: Getting Desperate?

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Microsoft’s (s msft) latest attempt to get people to use Internet Explorer is a competition, being run by Microsoft Australia, that promises $10,000AUD ($8,000) to the winner. In order to win, you need to “upgrade” your browser from the “old” Firefox and follow clues to find a page that’s only viewable for IE users, ironically harking back to the bad old days when web sites were “optimized” for either IE or Netscape and not accessible to users of the other browser. Is this competition — which is highly unlikely to make anyone switch to IE long-term — a sign of desperation in the face of  diminishing market share for the once-dominant browser vendor?

This Microsoft browser comparison chart made me chuckle. Apparently, IE is superior to both Chrome and Firefox in terms of ease of use, privacy and security, and matches them on speed and standards compliance.

The truth is that even though IE8 is a vastly improved browser over IE7, it’s still lagging behind its competitors in terms of speed, customizability and standards compliance (see my post on Opera 10 for tests on all the major browsers for JavaScript perfomance and standards compliance), and so users continue to switch to the alternatives. In visits to this blog, for example, IE has slipped from 34 percent of visitors to 28 percent over the past year, and that’s despite the release of IE8 in the meantime. Unless Microsoft can release an improved browser, gimmicks like this competition will not get savvy users to switch to an inferior product and its market share will continue to slide.

If you prefer IE, let us know why in the comments.

14 Responses to “Microsoft and IE: Getting Desperate?”

  1. @Chris Pratt

    You’re talking non-sense here, I’m sorry. I doesn’t matter if it is a Microsoft technology. As far as I know, anyone running Silverlight applications in their browsers won’t be using only ie.

    I just said it was a great feature in IE7 and IE8 for me that no other browser supports, even if they could. That’s a good reason to have IE for me =)

  2. @Chris IE8 is the only one that supports XAML because XAML is a strickly Microsoft technology, not a standard. Microsoft threw it in to IE as a nicety for it’s .NET developers, who wouldn’t be using another browser anyways.

    Anyways, the browser comparison chart was a complete joke, fully living up to Microsoft’s “if we repeat the same lies enough, they’ll be true” recent marketing approach. Particularly laughable was IE getting a win in the “Development Tools” category. True, Firefox may not come out of the box with development tools, but Web Developer Toolbar + Firebug + Firefox is unbeatable.

    Oh! And site compatibility? Seems like Safari 4 is the only browser that has passed the Acid test 100, and I’m already finding rendering errors in IE8 (granted, more minor than in previous iterations of the browser).

  3. >And IE has better support for Enterprise applications.

    My company uses a version of SAP that was built for IE 6. There are some javascript errors, but it works okay in IE 7. Won’t even load in IE 8.

  4. >And IE has better support for Enterprise applications.

    That’s misleading. It is more accurate to say that enterprise applications have consistently developed for a product (IE) rather than a standard, and therefore enterprise app support is stronger for IE than for other browsers.

  5. @Chris – I think most developers have IE installed, if only to test sites with it (and access the occasional site that requires it). But most savvy users don’t use it as their main browser any more – that’s Microsoft’s problem

  6. One great thing about ie is the native support of XAML format.
    As a .Net developer, it is useful if I want a quick preview of what the user interface I’m designing is going to look like.

    As far as I know, no other browser can directly render xaml files.
    So I’m keeping ie8 on my computer, among other browsers.

  7. Even though Microsoft would release a Mac version of IE8 again I’d definitely not switch back to it again. Compared with almost any other browser available today no matter if it has been created by Apple, Google, the Mozilla Foundation, the team behind Opera or even small, independent development teams, it’s just the weakest browser anybody could use.

    The competition and its website are really poor and sometimes I really wonder why a huge company like Microsoft approves an idea / concept like this at all.

    I mean, the site looks just like one of those strange scam websites, just even worse and while having a look at it I’m basically just waiting that a popup with gambling ads suddenly opens up on my screen. :)

  8. SeanBlader

    I’d say IE8 got 20 in the Acid3 test, but I’m not sure it’s finished yet. And no I don’t use it, but all things considered, if I have to have IE on my system, I’d rather have the latest one. But I usually use Firefox.

    And for Jesse, if font smoothing is all you want, then use Safari.

  9. The only thing I prefer on IE is the text rendering. Their anti-aliasing is much better than Firefox and perhaps even Chrome. I might even use IE for every day browsing if I wasn’t so bitter about having to develop for it.