Thursday, June 18th, 2009

“Get the facts” from Microsoft Marketing

Category: Browsers, IE, Microsoft

There are some good engineers working to make IE a better browser. I don’t want to belittle their work, but I couldn’t let go the recent work of various marketing groups this week.

First up, we had the the chaps from down under try to buy downloads with 10 grand, ripping into other browsers along the way…. as they use all images and no type in their lovely page. I have found Aussies to be a hilarious bunch, but not so much this time? I can see how the idea would seem good in a meeting room…..

Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine quickly realised that wasn’t taken so built his fun retort for the Mozilla community.

Then we had the new “get the facts” campaign that showed an angry “we don’t suck like you think” angle:

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about Internet Explorer’s speed, security, and adaptability. But many of the claims are comparing older versions of Internet Explorer to competitors’ newest releases.

These pages somehow manage to claim that IE is more secure, is the only browser with privacy features, is the easiest browser to use, has great Web standards support, fantastic developer tools, is more reliable, and customizable, and on and on. They even use their monopoly baggage to claim that all of those annoying “built for IE” pages of the past make IE more “compatible”. Oh, and obviously the performance of IE 8 is vastly superior to other browsers. Sure the “benchmarks” don’t tell that story, but that isn’t what matters. Of course, anyone who has USED THE DARN BROWSERS can get a decent feeling on performance.

IE 8 is a decent browser, much better than IE 7 and before it. However, it drives me nuts to see the marketing spin and bare-faced lies that come across here. It denigrates the work that the engineers are doing.

To finish up, I feel like I have to end with the third piece on IE this week:

Posted by Dion Almaer at 11:21 pm

4.1 rating from 27 votes


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Microsoft still treats consumers as morons.

Watch out, Microsoft, we are getting smarter. There’s a thing called the Internet, which gives us power. And, with it, we can actually spread the truth, you know? And the truth does ends up prevailing, (t)here.

Watch out, Microsoft, you can no longer fabricate the truth with your ads and your marketing, you know?

Comment by andysky — June 18, 2009

You can use Safari to spoof the user agent to IE8.

Comment by rolandp — June 18, 2009

Let’s hope the EU makes Microsoft provide in Windows 7 for every user, on install, a choice between the 5 main browsers, so that, at the very least, users will stop thinking that Internet Explorer = Internet. Ah, there’s actually a thing called browser. Microsoft doesn’t own the Internet. They have a CHOICE. They can choose the platform of the present/future. They are not tied to Windows anymore.

And, Obama, what are YOU doing about this?

Comment by andysky — June 18, 2009

“However, it drives me nuts to see the marketing spin and bare face lies that come across here. It denigrates the work that the engineers are doing.”

You mean what Tristant Nitot of Mozilla is doing everytime he speak in public ?

This is just a bad campaign, every browser vendor made some, and wi’ll continue. Microsoft hin not an exception.

Comment by ywg — June 19, 2009

Microsoft, for every lie you tell, 100 new Microsoft haters are born.

Pretty soon there will be millions of us.

Comment by andysky — June 19, 2009

Sorry to post another time, but my previous comment should be rephrased:

Microsoft, every time you tell a lie, 1000 new Microsoft haters are born.

Pretty soon there will be millions of us.

…Or there are already?

Comment by andysky — June 19, 2009

Microsoft, every time you tell a lie, a fairy dies.

Comment by randomrandom — June 19, 2009

Are you kidding me?………

Zoom out until you see the whole continent. Then double click until you find the 10.000 :) Try and you will see.

Comment by sekostar — June 19, 2009

Kilian Valkhof (of SenCSs fame) took the get-the-facts-page and adjusted it to reality:

Comment by edwinm — June 19, 2009

Smell the panic.

I truly hope this kind of negative propaganda only makes IE more unpopular

Comment by PeteB — June 19, 2009

The thing is, these claims aren’t total lies. Maybe just a bit manufactured to make IE8 sound better compared to rest.

By the way, funnily enough, nobody seemed to care when Apple was spouting lies about Safari… “Safari is the first browser with X” even though they weren’t but I sure don’t remember seeing a post on Ajaxian about that!

Comment by Jani — June 19, 2009

Every time MS tells a lie, IE crashes somewhere :-)

Comment by RoryH — June 19, 2009

@RoryH: That explains a lot!

Comment by rasmusfl0e — June 19, 2009

IE8 is a decent browser, however regarding speed, it’s still ridicilously far behind the others, check out the facts here;
So that sentence about “comparing older versions of IE against newer versions of the competitors” is pure BS. But I guess we all knew that … ;)

Comment by ThomasHansen — June 19, 2009

@ThomasHansen: that article is basing its measurements on a test of javascript execution speed only. The percentage of time spent on javascript execution on regular websites is usually in the single digits, and even for web apps it’s almost never the majority of the waiting time, so testing only that small part with a synthetic benchmark is a very dishonest way of benchmarking. A realistic benchmark uses page load times on common websites, and I expect IE8 to score comparably to firefox there.

Comment by Joeri — June 19, 2009

Damn. I got back from my holliday just in time to have a great laugh over this.

The get the ‘facts’ page proves that Microsoft still has *no* *clue* whatsoever as to what IQ their users have and how far it will backfire on them.

This story really needs submission to Digg…

Comment by SchizoDuckie — June 19, 2009

oh yeah, also note:

Comment by SchizoDuckie — June 19, 2009

It looks like they modified the site since they’re not blaming me anymore for using ‘old dull firefox’. I think more people have pointed the creators of the site of their ‘professional approach’ of this action.

Comment by kanduvisla — June 19, 2009

Yup, probably true. Though is 99 out of a 100 metrics IE stinks so badly that it seriously should have been completely buried and laid to permanent rest in peace…
This is just ONE metric, we could also have talked about e.g.
* W3C compatibility
* Stability
* Openness in platform
* Lock-in (and lack of therein)
* Security
* ActiveX
* Modularity
etc, etc, etc…
IE8 was a *decent* browser, it still doesn’t hide the fact that it’s still several orders of magnitudes number of paradigms behind *ALL OTHER BROWSERS* in this world…!
So your statement isn’t just “unfair”, it’s also blatantly out righteous *DANGEROUS*…!
Remember you *DO* run the risk of having someone believe you… :|

Comment by ThomasHansen — June 19, 2009

Your comment is kind of like saying we should use steam-engines in trains today because they are less prune to needing repairs because the parts are larger and less likely to fall apart because trains runs so much more slow …

Comment by ThomasHansen — June 19, 2009

I wasn’t making a statement about IE8 in general, just that dissing them on performance based on javascript performance is not a fair point to make. And also that the intense focus on javascript performance in the web dev community is detrimental to the overall performance story, because if we could get browser makers to put that same effort in DOM layout improvements as they do in their javascript engines, we would get much more bang for our buck.

By the way, Thomas, if I can play advocate of the devil some more, I might mention how tab process isolation improves security and stability (a feature firefox doesn’t have), and how the CSS 2.1 implementation of IE8 has unparalleled compliance, easily beating every other browser out there. … But now I’m just having fun making you huff and puff :)

Comment by Joeri — June 19, 2009


How many years have we been waiting for CSS 2.1 support in IE? Good comment about the DOM layout improvements though. Erm…doesn’t that involve working on w3c spec applications? Isn’t that the problem we had with CSS 2.1 support?

I wonder, if MS were to focus on that, how long it will take for the next IE, and how far ahead the rest of the market will be…

Comment by sixtyseconds — June 19, 2009

@Joeri, a page that takes almost the same time and once loaded its responsiveness is 5 to 50 times slower than any other browser is more than significant. If you leave in 90s where JS was only that “unknown language used only for some form” I think you should update your self up to 2009, where again we are all stuck because of lacks caused by Internet Explorer. Their blog is talking only about accelerators, and JSON was a truly simple thing to implement in core … I mean, there is already a parser working there, it was not that big effort, wasn’t it? defineProperty is partially useless because not compatible with every object, just DOM nodes and Window ( better than nothing ). Tell people that IE8 is the best browser out there is a lie. Underline CSS 2.1 while WebKit and others are moving forward with 3 plus personal proposal, means IE 8 is again behind the scene. Avoid canvas, HTML 5 elements will block us for dunno how many other years, unless we do not fall back. Sure, the best bench ever is the load speed, cause a millisecond means a lot, as we click a page each millisecond, rather than enjoy an advanced website for minutes/hours, right? You should look intensive application via GWT, Ext JS, YUI, and compare their responsiveness with this fantastic IE8, the first thing you’ll do as developer is to swear against a lot of saints. “Face The Reality”, rather than “Get The Facts” with “kiddish, gne gne style” blames, IMHO.

Comment by WebReflection — June 19, 2009

I think dissing IE8 on JavaScript performance is completely valid. I think dissing them on the lack of Canvas is completely valid. They are a huge company and they should be able to keep up with their competitors. Why are their competitors (even little Opera) able to beat them on so many fronts? On multiple platforms? I think it’s because what Microsoft cares about is Silverlight, not the browser.

“But many of the claims are comparing older versions of Internet Explorer to competitors’ newest releases.”

And that’s the problem. There are still a lot of people running IE6. Who is running an Opera or Firefox or Safari or Chrome of that vintage? Chrome autoupdates. If only IE did. What does it matter if IE8 is great if we have to code to IE6?

Comment by Nosredna — June 19, 2009

Just more of Microsoft’s total lack of self-awareness.

Comment by pendensproditor — June 19, 2009

Name a browser that can scroll as smoothly as IE6. (Other IE versions went downhill scrolling-wise and Firefox doesn’t count on account of the fixed background bug).

This and lack of various addons are the only things keeping me off Chrome atm.

Comment by Darkimmortal — June 19, 2009

Hmm, let’s see… If, according to Microsoft, Firefox is “old”, then, what’s Internet Explorer? Dead?

Comment by andysky — June 19, 2009

My professional opinion is that Microsoft is dead.

They just don’t know it yet.

Comment by randomrandom — June 19, 2009

Thats funny, I just went to that microsoft “mythbusting” page and it had this quote up at the top under here’s the buzz:

“This latest version of Microsoft’s browser leapfrogs its closest competition”… Gralla, Computer World

and sadly that quote is exactly right, because IE8 is closer to IE7 (or even IE 6) than firefox, safari, or chrome. That is truly how far behind IE 8 is, it isnt even in the same ballpark as the other A-grade brosers so its “closest competition” are the weaklings IE 6 and IE 7.

so good job microsoft, you did, in fact, leapfrog IE 6 and IE 7

Comment by ryshaw — June 19, 2009

@ryshaw: “so good job microsoft, you did, in fact, leapfrog IE 6 and IE 7”

I like that image. Microsoft finally admits being the frog, where the others are princes.

I guess Microsoft ain’t a total lier after all, eh?

Comment by randomrandom — June 19, 2009

I remember this Microsoft video with a Microsoft Evangelist interviewing a Microsoft Developer at his desk. At a certain point this Microsoft Evangelist sees Firefox on the screen:
Microsoft Evangelist [seemingly nervous]: What’s that?! Internet Explorer with a new logo?

Then this Microsoft Evangelist laughs of his own joke.

The Microsoft Developer doesn’t laugh at all and just says…

Microsoft Developer: This is Firefox

This moment, to me, told me more about Microsoft that a thousand magazine articles.

BTW, a few months later, that developer was no longer at Microsoft.

Comment by andysky — June 19, 2009

God told Microsoft:

– Microsoft, roll over and die!

But, Microsoft, having its head so far down its ass, heard:

– Microsoft, roll over and lie!

And so it did.

Comment by randomrandom — June 19, 2009

MS: Drop support for IE 6 and 7 now.

When you do that, I can tell my clients that I can’t support it either. It gives me the ammunition I need to finally write web apps without tearing my hair out and wasting countless hours making your old crap work. At that point, I’ll evaluate IE 8. Until then, “IE” is IE 6, 7 and 8 in my (real) life.

Comment by Bub — June 19, 2009

Ahem. I’ve actually just spent 6 months building an ExtJS web app, developing on firefox 3 with regular testing on IE8 and chrome. I’m not saying there isn’t a performance difference, just that it isn’t this ground-breaking earth-shattering chasm that I keep hearing here. IE8 is “good enough” performance-wise from what I’ve seen from it. Maybe it’s just due to the sort of app I’ve been building (iGoogle-style gadget portal). We’ll see what my experience is when I move over our room reservation system to ExtJS.

I think there’s a lot of merit to your point about canvas and html5. I wouldn’t place that under the label “standards support”, because those aren’t actually standards yet, but for me that belongs with “promoting the web of tomorrow”. With IE8, microsoft made, in my opinion, a decent browser for what’s already out there, the web of today. The question is what they do from here on out with IE9 to deliver the web of tomorrow. What the web needs to go there, in my opinion, is the capability to run complex apps offline, with local data, and with local graphics support. This implies support for faster multi-threaded javascript, canvas, offline mode and advanced client-side (sql) storage. That’s the featurelist I expect in IE9 if microsoft is as serious about the open web as they claim to be. Fat chance of that happening though. My gut tells me they’re just going to bet heavily on silverlight and keep holding back the open web.

Comment by Joeri — June 20, 2009

@Joeri, complex web apps via Ext JS is my daily work. Big differences between IE8 and 6 via Ext? Nothing compared with the feeling you can have via Chrome, for example, or others. The reason IE is reasonably responsive in IE as well is that Ext JS team put a lot of effort to make IE sufficiently fast. Still, when things become more complicated and you use complex personal gadgets/logic inside some Ext floating window, take the chronometer and check he difference: Internet Explorer is slow!

The browser for today web tasks? Just have a ride in TaskSpeed and see, even with a partially bugged document query selector how slow is, generally speaking, IE … and for general daily basis tasks.

Is version 8 better than 7 ? HOPEFULLY!!!

Comment by WebReflection — June 20, 2009

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