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Internet Explorer 8 – Get The REAL Facts

Microsoft has started it’s ‘get the facts’ campaign around its new browser, Internet Explorer 8. In typical Microsoft style though, it’s nothing less than a glorious smoke and mirrors marketing campaign. It reminds me of the PC and Mac advert where PC is deciding how much money to spend on fixing the problems with Vista or marketing it. When Mac questions the ratio, PC decides in his wisdom to spend it all on marketing.

Microsoft do produce good software that’s easy to use but they’ve always dragged their heels on the Internet. As the Internet emerged it was Mosaic and Netscape that dominated the browser world. Microsoft gave Internet Explorer away for free, bundled it with the operating system and established their dominance through the backdoor. It was a pretty poor product but it was free and came with the operating system. It worked and people were comfortable using it. It’s like those free bars of soap in the hotel, we all use them but we’d never have anything so caustic in our own home when we actually have to pay for it.

If you give something away for free, or with limited inconvenience, people will accept a lesser quality product. This is Microsoft’s IE marketing plan.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, the world has grown smarter and they’ve now moved to other browsers such as Opera, Safari, Chrome or Firefox (my own personal favourite). While Microsoft managed to hold the Internet back with IE6 and it’s dominant position, the other browsers followed the standards and people started to download other browsers and educate themselves. Internet Explorer usage is in decline and probably will continue to decline because the approach doesn’t work any more.

Take their current marketing campaing: Get the Facts. Kilian Valkhof made a more truthful version of the page: Get the REAL Facts. Geektechnica has also made their own mythbusting page to explain the difference.

Internet Explorer 8 is a better product and has caught up with many of the other browsers but it still lacks in terms of performance, security and support of web standards.

Web developers always struggle to make their designs work across all browsers but this is getting easier as they’re all converging on a single approach, the web standards. I used to design for Firefox in 5 days, test the site and get it working on Opera, Safari and Chrome within an hour. Internet Explorer 6, 7 & 8 will take another 2 days and it’s usually easier to just turn off advanced design elements.

The majority of IE6 and IE7 installations are businesses that are now burdened with it. They’ve either developed in-house applications that are so tied to the peculiarities of IE6 that they can’t upgrade easily or they’re scared of ripping it out and replacing it with a new version and going through a whole upgrade cycle in case something breaks.

To be honest, most businesses should stop focussing on replacing one version of Internet Explorer with another and consider Opera, Safari, Firefox or Chrome as a replacement. Your web team would love you, your customers would love you and you’d be in a far more flexible position to move your business forward without the six inch nails in the soles of your boots. Microsoft had the dominant position in the browser marketplace and they slowed down the advancement of the Internet, don’t give it back to them because I guarantee they’ll do it again. The Internet is too important for a company to have control of it. It would be nice for all of the browsers mentioned above to have a share of the market and for the pursuit of web standards to be the driving force.

Don’t be stupid and don’t listen to the Microsoft hype.

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