Friday, June 19th, 2009

What do Web developers want from browser marketers?

Category: Browsers

As a follow on from the recent post on Microsoft marketing for the week, a few people have given great feedback on what we actually expect from browser marketing. This is a key point that was missing in the post as it gives those watching something to understand that could make things better. This is not about Microsoft, but about all vendors. If we keep seeing claims like this then no user will be able to take anything said from vendor seriously. If everyone claims to be the “fastest browser in the world” then that claim becomes meaningless for example.

We expect that when claims are made there is a detailed rubric on the methods. You can’t just say “we are faster” for example. Right now the claims made on the IE 8 piece are so subjective that if you were in marketing you would think that you are being sneaky “we aren’t teeechnically lying!” That isn’t good enough though.

With the rubric we (developers) should be able to run the tests ourselves to make comparisons. When future browsers come out we should be able to rerun them.

Benchmarks can be gamed, but it is still hugely different that I can take something like SunSpider and run it on my SAME machine for the various browsers. The numbers won’t be the same as on your computer, but it gives me ball park and more importantly comparisons. We can argue if SunSpider actually means anything in the grand scheme of things…. but that is another story.

As a wise man said: “Tests that aren’t repeatable and claims that aren’t testable (or explained) are just lies, no matter who’s telling them.”

What would you like to see in a Bill of Browser Vendor Ethics? :)

Posted by Dion Almaer at 12:44 pm

4 rating from 23 votes


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Isn’t this the same for all marketed products, though? Isn’t every brand of peanut butter “the creamiest” and every car “the best selling car/truck/van/suv in America”?

I agree with you, but I think the marketing hype doesn’t really mean anything anymore. No one takes “fastest this” or “best that” to heart anymore, because marketers have fed us too much garbage for too long.

I think the bigger problem is that Microsoft is actually marketing their browser to begin with. The typical end-user (non-techie) will respond positively to Microsoft marketing regardless of whether what they’re saying is true or not, because they’re Microsoft.

Comment by nicksergeant — June 19, 2009

I’d like just one browser to develop for. Or at least just have standards implemented across the board (not individual “this is how we took it” implementations).

Comment by scoot2006 — June 19, 2009

Someone should write an HTML rendering engine in Flash.

Comment by Darkimmortal — June 19, 2009

How about get rid of IE altogether. One javascript engine would also be nice. Tired of the quirks. Nicest thing, however, would be if M$ put out an update that completely disabled IE6 on all machines. Yes….that would be great. I’m tired of wasting dev time on that pile of sh*t.

Comment by meeko81 — June 19, 2009

Let’s just get rid of IE altogether. One JS engine would be nice

Comment by meeko81 — June 19, 2009

Microsoft can’t kill IE6. IT departments control the updates. Microsoft has already begged and pleaded with customers to upgrade to IE7 and IE8.

Comment by Nosredna — June 19, 2009

@Nosredna, we all know the problem about updates. Well, put in this way: sotware,by definition, requires updates. An Operating System that is not maintained anymore is not secure, not compatible, legally wrong (at least in some country) because it cannot be improved. As this kind of deprecated Operating System is not useful for anybody, and is instead a big risk for every company based on that OS, Internet Explorer 6 is exactly the same. Then you ask to web libraries developers to remove IE6 support, and you know what they reply? “Actually, IE6 or IE7 does not make big difference about hacks, checks, amount of if/else we have in our library to solve IE problems”. As summary, IE6 to surf should be considered illegal, because of problems, starting from security issues, until the fact it is not supported anymore. IE7 on the other hand is not that better than IE6. IE8 is a bit better than 7, not competitive with Firefox, Safari, Opera, or Chrome. In few wards, this is a lost battle, let’s see in a couple of years who will win the early 2000 browser war.

Comment by WebReflection — June 20, 2009

My Idea Is: if they are still in IE6, they do not need the web. So I still wonder why we are taking care of IE6, in any case …

Comment by WebReflection — June 20, 2009

IE already won the early 2000 browser war, thats why we have to develop for IE6 instead of NN4.

This is a new war and all involved are guilty one way or another in creating more compatibility and thus developer hell. All browsers add own new features on what you can do in a page, most are derived from W3C and Ecma stadards, but then they go and use vendor prefixes in CSS creating hard to get rid of legacy. Everyone agrees to standards, but they all feel they should be the ones creating standards.

Anything goes really, there’s no ethics and morality in selling products, expecting that is a naive, demanding that is unfair, enforcing it is legally impossible. Blatant lies ok, that will get adressed, but everything in the gray area is fair game. And Ironically in the end, the user always chooses a browser based on a pretty color, Only developers really really care.

Comment by BenGerrissen — June 21, 2009

I think the marketing is not that relevant. The browser wars have always been decided primarily by word of mouth. People always say IE rose to dominance because of the bundling, but that’s not how I remember it. I remember that IE5 was a genuinely better browser and that I and many of my geek friends recommended it to our family and friends. The same goes for the rise of firefox, which came about not because of great marketing, but because of a great product that was spread through word of mouth. Most “regular” people use firefox because their nerd told them to. So, what microsoft chooses to do marketing-wise is their choice, but I don’t expect it to influence the marketshare much. If anything, campaigns like these work against them, because it makes _us_ more likely to recommend a choice away from IE.

Incidentally, IE6 is part of XP SP2, and will remain supported as long as XP SP2 remains supported. According to microsoft’s website that means it will be officially supported until july 13th 2010. There’s not even a date known yet when IE7 will be desupported, but judging by their normal lifecycle process, it won’t be before 2013.

Comment by Joeri — June 21, 2009

We want Microsoft to admit defeat and get out of the browser game, or at least adopt Webkit or Gecko. They’ve had plenty of time and resources to prove themselves. Time’s up. We’ve given up on them as much as we’re able to while still getting our jobs done.

Comment by pendensproditor — June 22, 2009


“All browsers add own new features on what you can do in a page, most are derived from W3C and Ecma stadards, but then they go and use vendor prefixes in CSS creating hard to get rid of legacy.”

I don’t think this is right. The use of vendor prefixes in CSS is per the standard; it’s the correct way to deploy vendor extensions, including standards which are not finalized. This is specifically to avoid browser hacking and compatibility problems.

The difference between -webkit-box-shadow and box-shadow may be nothing today, but it may be something in the future.

– – –


The choice to support or not support IE 6 is an individual or business decision. It’s not a simple choice, and there’s a reason there are many who are still supporting IE 6, and it isn’t just bland marketshare numbers. For instance, if the Javascript libraries eschew IE 6 support, they will lose substantial business support.

The IE 6 market share fluctuates on a daily basis, and peaks during business hours. This is troubling for people who want to quit IE 6, but intend to target businesses as part of their audience.

I think the way to kill IE 6 (and to kill Trident in general) is to start adding perks for the better browsers, and start announcing them. This can be as simple as using the features built into WebKit and Gecko that make our CSS lives easier, or by not developing specific IE support into dynamic features (where they have server-side equivalents). Your apps can perform better, come down the wire faster, and grow with the technology rather than waiting for the lowest common denominator.

In the end, Microsoft will be forced to either choose WebKit (as they’ve been considering) or to finish catching up with CSS and DOM features the others have had for years. They won’t accept the market share drops that come with users switching because all their favorite websites work better in Safari and Firefox.

Comment by eyelidlessness — June 22, 2009

I think multiple browsers is a good thing, as it encourages competition and innovation. But, there needs to be standards, and these need to be enforced. Developing a site and having to worry about browser compatibility is crazy. Every industry has standards, and the web should be no different.

And in regards to eyelidlessness’ comment above, I think that stripping special features from IE is the way to go. I considered not supporting IE6, but really, it’s not an option. I think that adding perks into the gecko/webkit browsers is a better way to go, and then specifying that IE will be supported, but only in a bare bones way.

Comment by moodie — July 7, 2009

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