IE: What is it Good For? Absolutely Nothing.

What’s wrong with Internet Explorer? A better question, with a much shorter answer, would be: what’s right about it?

Nothing.

  • It’s proprietary Microsoft software, meaning there’s very little movement in innovation and usability.
  • It’s as secure as Windows is (need I say more).
  • Cross-browser-compatibility becomes a nightmare and a half. IE’s never even tried to be standards-compliant, keeping up with web innovations like CSS3 and HTML5, that all other respectable major browsers have. In all fairness, note that IE is just now barely coming around on this issue, but feels like too little, too late.

The issue of compatibility is a nightmare for anyone, anyone, who’s either building a website or having one built. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients and provided support to thousands of customers with a very common and reoccurring issue:

My website looks and works great in all browsers, except for IE. What gives?

What gives, is that Internet Explorer is one of the worst pieces of software around. Sure, there a plenty of technically horrible and buggy pieces of software far worse than IE. However, what truly makes IE the worst, is because of how popular and widely used it is. It is the most popular browser and one of the most popular programs in general, period. So, the formula is simple:

Popularity X Horribly Written Software = Worst Browser

How in the world did it get so bad and why in the world do people still use Internet Explorer? Because they either do not know any better or because they have to (a lot of old company proprietary software is built on top of IE and it just costs too much to update).

It happened originally, because Windows is the most popular operating system, which comes stock with plenty of other Microsoft proprietary crapware, including of course, Internet Explorer. So, people have been using it for years. And like in most walks of life how people blindly follow, use, or do whatever they’re told or are comfortable with without ever really thinking for themselves, they just use it and it never occurs to them that there might be something better.

In a nutshell, designers, developers, programmers, etc., continue to have to put up with this nightmare because people are dumb consumers. I’m sorry, but I’m an honest person. I can’t think of any other logical answer to why this issue primarily exists and continues to exist.

The amount of effort, time, man hours, etc., that goes into making websites and apps, services, and the like compatible with IE has easily got to be in the millions of dollars. Just saying screw IE and washing my hands clean of it really isn’t an option either. Most people still use IE and you have to appease them and their stupidity or lose out on a lot of visitors that convert to readers and even potential customers. It’s one of the saddest truths in the web industry that is holding it back, suffocating creativity and productivity.

What Should People Be Using?

Anything else. I recommend Firefox, Chrome, or Safari, in that order. Take your pick.

How do you feel, what’s your favorite browser?

Favorite Browser?

View Results

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Here’s a snapshot of the browsers my visitors use:
(it’s important to note that my blog is a web and tech blog, which means I’ll have a more tech-savvy audience than the average site, which in turn means, they’ll be using better browsers — this is definitely not normal across the web)

Browsers

UPDATE — I had someone comment on my Facebook Page that I must be a Mac user (in reply to this article). Although I can see that assumption taking place, it’s important to note that I actually use Windows. Always have, for well over a decade now. But, I am indeed going to give Mac a try the next time I upgrade.

MAJOR UPDATE — Kudos to Microsoft, they’ve finally retired Internet Explorer and are moving forward with a modern web browser, built from scratch. However, we’re not out of the muck just yet. Remember, that even though Microsoft is moving forward with a better browser in Windows 10 onward, many people are still on older versions of Windows and therefore, still on versions of Internet Explorer.

  • Hey Bryan…This is the first article I received since my subscription to your blog. Super glad I found you – which was through the Cyber Chimps Forum. This is something I need to hear and I really only felt, having experienced these difficulties with IE and customers and friends being frustrated with how their website looks in IE. I love chrome for the tab system and compatibility AND tools for developing (which I an just new at) – I tried Firefox, having believed it was the choice of the BEST developers…however the SLIDE tab system isn’t enough for a guy like myself that also does a lot of social media and requires multiple tabs open at a time – sliding not ideal. – however, in the future I see people sitting back “reading” the internet MORE than “creating it” – therefore I am imagining Safari will be the Browser of choice.

  • The reason I like Firefox so much personally is because of how intimately you can customize it through about:config (try entering that in your URL bar to see what it is) and through Firefox add-ons:

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/

    Also see here:

    https://bryanhadaway.com/5-tools-to-take-control-over-your-web-browsing/

    I’ve been using Firefox since version 1.5 (so since about 2005). IE was already known for being vulnerable security wise, but around 2005-06 is when I really started getting into to web design and first realized just how truly bad the browser was and was looking for an alternative, any alternative.

    I remember working on projects and everything was just beautiful in Firefox, I’d even validated the code and then I’d test in IE: O_O. At that point I was introduced to the world of spending hours hacking and compromising my code to make it look good in IE as well.

    Once IE7 came out things got at least a little better (I’m being generous).

    I’ll always be harsh about IE users, not to be blatantly rude without cause, but so that I get my point across. The ONLY acceptable reason to ever use IE anymore is if you have to appease some out-dated dinosaur software that only works in IE.

    Other than that, people need a wake up call. I’m a strong pusher of Firefox, but if I can even get one person to stop using IE and use anything else I’ve done my job.

    There are some hardcore developers that use other browsers altogether (that are mostly unheard of). But, for me Firefox is the best mix of developer capabilities, standards-compliance, but also keeping up with all the superficial fads of the mainstream internet.

    Thanks, Bryan

  • Ahh..I see the Config option in the Browser. Thanks for showing me this. I am always interested in how capable my tools are. – Like I said I am fairly new to developing however I look forward to working with Firefox even more now. For now I will use Chrome…but start playing with Firefox in the near future – and by the looks of it I will be moving over.

  • Yeah, I configure Firefox to show full URLs and spell check EVERYTHING for example.

    Whatever works best for you. I have no problem with Chrome. It’s definitely lighter weight than Firefox and runs a little smoother. I’m sure after it’s been around as long though that it’ll gain some pounds.

    Thanks, Bryan

  • Buschtall

    Netscape Navigator All the Way Baby!

  • Magicmushiez

    quote:
    “So, myself and other designers, developers, programmers etc continue to have to put up with this nightmare because PEOPLE ARE DUMB CONSUMERS. I’m sorry, but I’m an honest person. I can’t think of any other logical answer to why this issue primarily continues.”

    Exactly what i said XD

  • Magicmushiez

    I’m talking out of experience
    I voted for chrome , only because it has a build in “Firebug” . Where firebug eats up to much memory in Firefox , and FF stops responding all the time . If Firefox has not done this to me i would have voted for FF. Also i still use FF cuz of the FireFtp which chrome lacks . None the less these are the 2 best browsers .

    Web , Windows developer for 3 years

  • Actually, with the latest Firefox update they added Inspect Element. So now all three, Firefox, Chrome and Safari have built in Inspect Element features.

    I’ve become quite accustomed to Firebug though so we’ll see.

    Thanks, Bryan

  • Greg

    Agreed- IE is the worst browser to optimize for and is by far the browser that crashes the most…

  • Hey Bryan,
    There is nothing scarier than creating a website, testing it out on Chrome, Firefox and then hoping it doesn’t blow up on IE9. Second worse is having to put notes on embedded tech saying, “If this doesn’t work, it is probably because you are using IE….”

  • Hah, I remember an even worse time several years back where many website’s software was built solely for IE. Like bank accounts and other online tools, so the message was you need to use Internet Explorer for this website to run properly etc.

    At least those days are over and Firefox, Chrome and Safari are really creeping up on putting IE out of the majority market share.

    Thanks, Bryan

  • lauraine 2012

    Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further write ups thanks once again.
    html5 video player| html5 player

  • Exoboy

    If I was a conspiracy theorist…. I might even go so far as to say that Microsoft keeps IE as incompatible as possible because they know that at least half or more people are still using some dying version of IE. By continually keeping IE a thorn in web developer’s side it essentially gives them a level of control over the internet itself… their message is: “You don’t need it until we tell you it’s okay.” I cannot tell you how many website I have created using standard CSS, HTML, and javascript, ONLY to have some IE-specific glitch cause me grief for hours, or even days, as well as increase the overall cost of the client’s project by 20-30%! Microsoft needs to be held accountable by the community in general for holding us all back, Mac or PC, due to their inferior, and brain-dead browser with its Tinker-Toy driven rendering and javascript engines.

  • SRAMONDICKY

    INTERNET EXPLORER IS A CRAP, BUT I TRIED CHROME AND FIREFOX, THEY ARE TO MY EXPERIENCE AFTER I UESED BOTH FOR WEEKS THAT THEY ARE COMPATABLE WITH IE 10 OR 15 YEARS AGO, THEY ARE NOT VERY SUCCESFUL IMITATIONS TO INTERNET EXPLORER, THEY TELL ME THAT MAC IS HARD TO FIND SOFTWARE COMPATIBLE WITH WINDOW, GATES DECEIVED A COUPLE OF FRIENDS IN COLLOGE TO SIGN THEIR WORK TO HIM, AND HE RUINED THEIR WORK, WINDOW IS AS CRAP AS GATES INTELIGENCE, IF HE WAS NOT FROM THE TRIBE HE WOULD BE PUMPING GAS IN A STATION, AND FACE BOOK TWITTER ALL ARE AMOUNG THE SOURCES OF COLLECTING INFO. ON PEOPLE ACTIVITY TO KEEP THOSE OWNERS ON TOP.
    AMERICA IS GOING DOWNHILL GREEAD DECEPTION AND SEX ARE OUR GODS.

  • Ivan

    While I agree and in fact DO use a better Browser, IE in and of itself isn’t bad when you know how to use it. I work in the IT industry as an assistant IT, and the company I work with uses IE all the time. Including my boss himself, the main IT here. It’s perfectly fine when you know how to browse the internet, because no matter how ‘good’ your browser is, I guarantee you it can crash/have bugs if you do certain things. That’s just how it works in reality.

  • I’m sorry Ivan, but it sounds a bit like you have the veil pulled over your eyes, or a very closed off perspective from seeing the big picture. The company you work with uses IE because THEY HAVE TO, not because it’s the best choice in 2012.

    It’s very likely if you ask around the IT department they’ll tell you something along the lines of the primary software the company uses was built specifically for IE and Windows before Firefox or Chrome ever even existed.

    Furthermore, they’ll likely tell you that it would simply be too expensive and/or difficult to completely update the software for modern day, standards-compliant browsers.

    I’m sure IE works great on the companies network. It’s been specifically optimized, updated and has had the bugs worked out for specific tasks for years now.

    I’m beyond an expert in web browser usage, I use them all. I even still use IE for testing and never stopped using it. Before Firefox, I used IE as my primary browser for years and know it like the back of my hand.

    If someone’s lack of knowledge in using a web browser properly was to blame, then it wouldn’t make any difference what browser they were using, so that’s hardly a valid point. If someone was that much of a novice they’re probably going to be the kind of person that yells at their computer just trying to turn it on.

    As an expert, I have a strong opinion of IE and I am biased (without a doubt), but I know it well, used it longer than any other browser because for a long time that’s pretty much all there was as far as major browsers on Windows. In addition, it’s not all just opinion anyways, the facts of why IE is worse than all other major browsers is stacked a mile high.

    Thanks, Bryan

  • Mgorgeski

    I am one of the guys forced to use IE at work, and hate so sooo sooooo sooooooo much.

  • Vimal

    i googled “good for nothing IE” and it brought me here… reading this article vented my frustration… thank you… i am not sure where the problem is but everytime I open youtube on IE, it will ask me to install the Flash player which i have done like a milliion times already… like you said, i have some corp application wont work without IE and i am stuck to this PoS… any suggestions?

  • If you’re able to install a secondary browser purely for entertainment/browsing needs, might as well use Chrome by Google who also owns YouTube. I bet those videos will play flawlessly.

    https://www.google.com/chrome/

    Thanks, Bryan

  • dobrayn

    Sorry for apropriate language but internet explorer is the reason that makes me want to leave this world. As a front end developer, you cannot make anything work 100% in internet explorer (html5,css3,flash,webgl… etc.). You cannot make anything work with 100% performance as well. If you are a front-end dev. make sure that for every project, exclude internet explorer from agreements. Because it makes the internet looks ugly and only entrance level developers who are not aware of fastly improving technology can find ie cool. I will not be sad if all the internet explorer developers die in pain because they are ruining my life for many years. I was pissed off, now I am fine. Thanks for the opportunity hehe.