Adventures of a wannabe geek!

Ranting within

Microsoft Release IE9 - End of Developer Browser Woe?

Late last night (14th March 9PM PST), Microsoft released IE9 to the world (www.beautyoftheweb.com). I must begin by saying I didn’t know this launch was happening which was strange as a release of this scale would usually be major news. I found out via Shay Friedman on Twitter. So IE9 was released, pretty huge eh? Finally a browser released by Microsoft to challenge the likes of Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.

IE 9 was billed as a huge step forward in terms of browsers from Microsoft. It has HTML5 support, industry leading JavaScript speed and full hardware acceleration. It is supposedly very fast indeed! A browser I was certainly waiting for to rival my love for Google Chrome.

I have heard mixed stories about installation encounters from different people. Some people said that it asked them to close all programs and then installed fine, others suggested that it installed as normal then required a machine reboot. Why would a browser ever require a reboot of a machine for installation? In 2011 it seems like utter madness! Apparently its because it updates explorer.exe and requires a reboot because of that. I believe it’s too tightly coupled to the operating system and that’s why the reboot is required. I thought I’d install it anyway,

So I downloaded the correct version (x64 or x86). I started the installation process. At this point I had 2 instances of Visual Studio 2010 open. I also had Seesmic Desktop 2, Spotify, Google chrome and various instances of SVN, TeamCity Tray monitor and Skype. I thought I’d be prompted to close all the applications but I wasn’t. I feared a reboot! At the end of the installation my worst fears were realised! Reboot required – in the middle doing some work on a personal project. As you can imagine I was pretty annoyed.

Apart from the required reboot, the product itself looks like. On first glance it doesn’t seem like a game changer for me. I’m a huge fan of chrome as its so slick and I love their upgrade process so I think for the foreseeable future I’ll be sticking with that. But speaking about upgrade processes lets talk about versions of IE.

Currently In the market we have IE6, IE7, IE8 and now IE9. I realise that other pieces of software have got different versions around at the minute. I also know that there are many different versions of Firefox around at the minute. But those who protest that have NEVER tried to support all the major different browsers for design. As huge corporate and government organisations still use IE6 – it can still be classed as a major browser. The differences between IE6 and IE7 in terms of design rendering was huge. IE8 then introduced compatibility mode. There is no real backwards compatibility in my opinion. Designing a site for IE8 may not render correctly in IE6 so I really dread seeing an IE9 designed site in IE6.

I understand that Microsoft will never be able to keep everyone happy. I appreciate the efforts made in the design of IE9 and I will certainly give it a shot rather than just say it’s not for me. But I would rather some effort be put into killing off some of the older versions of IE before IE10 is released. I don’t think I could cope with 5 versions :)

This isn’t designed as a rant – I applaud Microsoft for pushing their products onwards. But I really do feel that we need to help Microsoft by killing off older browsers. Make our own lives easier please! Currently I can count 13 different browsers while sitting on a train. Lets make that number decrease before new ones are added.

p.s. Microsoft please please please bear in mind user gripes when designing IE10 so that it doesn’t require a reboot. We are in the 21st century ;)