The IE Problem

I regularly root for the home team, even when they may be a bit inferior to the competition. On many occasions I cheered for the Mariners during a losing season, I was among the small group of people who was stoked to see the Seahawks make the playoffs (despite being the first team in the history of the NFL to do so with a losing record), and I typically find myself singing the praises of Microsoft – largely because they are here in our proverbial back yard and it feels like they are the home team. However biased I am to want to like Microsoft products, I have finally concluded that Internet Explorer is a horrible product that is wasting countless hours of web developer’s time and it is time that Microsoft own up to this reality.

Here are two examples of what I’m talking about.

  1. Acid3 is the standard upon which the world has agreed how browsers should render images, animations, etc. (100 is a perfect score). Chrome scores 100/100, my current version of Firefox scores 94/100, the crappy little browser on my Android phone even scores a 93/100. Internet Explorer 8 scores 20/100. That’s right, the flagship browser shipped every day by Microsoft, a company with 89,000 employees and with a market cap of $240 billion gets an “F-“ with the product that they want everyone in the world to use as their window to the Internet. But don’t worry, IE 9 is coming soon – early versions of which score a 32/100.
  2. Have you heard of HTML5?  It’s pretty exciting because all kinds of cool new things are coming down the pike that will allow the Web to do all sorts of amazing things that it couldn’t do before. HTML5 has a long way to go in nailing down its standards, but browsers already support the early standards and there is a good, objective HTML5 test to see how well browsers support these new standards (300 is a perfect score). Are you ready for the results?  Chrome gets 242/300, Firefox gets 139/300, my mobile Android browser gets 176/300, Internet Explorer 8 gets 27/300.

As a result of Microsoft’s refusal to adhere to industry standards, developers are forced to do all sorts of unnatural things in order to build web apps that look good and actually work across all browsers. Usually that means building fast, good looking, stable web apps for Chrome and Firefox, and then bloating those apps with all sorts of crazy IE workarounds in order to make sure your site doesn’t completely break when used with IE. Right now there is an unprecedented amount of wasted developer time and energy being spent wrestling with Microsoft’s albatross of a browser. And if that wasn’t bad enough, IE doesn’t have a built-in auto-upgrade mechanism like all the other browsers, so almost 40% of their IE install base is on old browsers like IE7 and even IE6. If you think IE8 is bad, just try and write a modern web app that actually functions with older versions of IE.

We are a startup with 17 highly talented employees. We do weekly sprints with rollouts every Wednesday and generally speaking we bust our asses to build cool, modern web apps. Two weeks ago, a bit before midnight, our team was huddled around their computers fixing a bunch of weird IE related bugs that suddenly became apparent during our post-release user acceptance testing. These of course didn’t show themselves during our automated unit testing, our automated system testing, our outsourced user testing, or our internal user testing (all of which we do religiously every week prior to a release). We have an amazingly advanced testing process, and yet despite these efforts we seem to regularly be wrestling with IE bugs and issues. The wasted man hours dealing with IE specific bugs – just in our little startup – can be measured in the thousands of man hours. IE has become an enormous tax on anyone building modern web apps, but this tax is felt especially hard by startups that are moving quickly and iterating often.


I knew better than to post that when my blood was still boiling, but I included it here to demonstrate how much anger and resentment the developer community is amassing toward Microsoft because of Internet Explorer. I regularly speak with other developers at other startups about the IE challenge, and I typically hear an equally passionate disdain for Internet Explorer. As a result, Microsoft is doing long-term damage to its brand because they are quickly coming to be seen as slow moving, obstinant and inept by the very web developers they need so badly to continue writing apps on their platforms. As developer confidence erodes, so will their market dominance.

Case in point. Our solution was to stop supporting Internet Explorer for our gamification CMS used by our business customers. Our business customers are typically much more sophisticated than a typical web user, and as such we now prompt all of them to upgrade to a modern browser (either Chrome or Firefox will work wonderfully) when using our gamification CMS. This solution is increasingly becoming the norm amongst web developers, and I think we’ll see the trend accelerate in the coming years.

BigDoor will, of course, continue to make sure all of our consumer facing applications (like our gamification MiniBar) work with every browser out there. It isn’t easy to do, but we can’t afford to turn away consumers using IE. But when it comes to our B2B products, we are taking a stand, deciding to move faster, and deciding to no longer let Microsoft’s sorry excuse for a browser slow this startup down. 

I’m still hopeful that Microsoft will realize how damaging it is to their entire franchise to alienate and anger web developers by their lack of support for standards. I’m hopeful that they will get religion around web standards and that IE 9 will comply with those standards. Microsoft, are you listening? I’m begging you – I want to again root for the home team!

Developers and startups, do you agree? Or are we just a bunch of angry curmudgeons shaking our virtual fists in the air and yelling at the neighbor kids to stay off our lawn?  Comment and tell us what you think.


  • Jerome

    Hi Keith,

    As I work mostly in Flash and AIR, I deal with issues within one platform. But, I do work with front-end designers and developers that are actually contemplating dropping IE support for public sites. Although it sounds a bit scary, I am afraid that this extreme decision is the only way to push MS to change its game and implement what other vendors have already done.

    I view browsers much like the Flash player. We use them to run code and render content for the user to interact with. As you mention, if inclusion of the IE renderer is too costly and hurts your ability to create and innovate, then the decision has been made for you.

    This has been a choice that our client have made when using Flash online. I don’t see why it should be an issue with browsers.



  • Dan

    Can you be right and still be an angry curmudgeon?

  • Kevin

    If you guys can make all of your customers use a “modern browser” (way to take that slogan from the Google marketing deck), then more power to you. Though bitching about browsers is hardly something that you guys invented.

    But if you’d like to lock out 40-50% of potential customers, have at it.

  • Ben Huntley

    Awesome post, I can’t even express the amount of frustration I’ve felt after building a cool, gorgeous web application and then watch it turn into a bloated mess as I try and accommodate IE users. If it’s any relief, it appears that the recent versions of IE9 are getting 95/100 on acid3 (though, the first builds were getting 32/100, you’re right). In my opinion, the silver lining to this cloud is the fact that the public is beginning to realize what a piece of crap IE is. Browser statistics over time show a pretty interesting picture in that regard:

  • BigDoor

    @ Jerome – Great comparison. BTW, very cool site. It makes me wish I knew something about Flash.

    @ Dan – Yes! Finally someone to appreciate the beautiful, lifelong partnership that is my correctness and my anger. 🙂

    @ Ben – Unfortunately Acid3 primarily tests against CSS2, so even though IE9 may yet be an improvement – they will still be years behind the solidly proposed standards that the rest of the world’s browsers have been embracing for years (CSS3 being a great example). But you are right on about the loss of IE market share, unfortunately it isn’t happening fast enough. It would be much better for all of us as developers if MS would get religion about this stuff and fix their browsers rather than force us all to root for the slow, painful death of IE.

  • Brien M

    Ever use Outlook Web Access? Microsoft has a rich feature set for its own browser, but a reduced feature set for non IE browsers. This is the approach that I have taken with IE for complicated UI apps.”For a richer experience use any other browser”. If the degradation of user experience is significant enough, I’ll even stick a nag bar at the top inspired by these guys:

  • GuyverXT9

    Umm, IE9 Preview 1.9.80006.6000 scores 95/100. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take Chrome or Firefox over IE any second of the day, but at least get your facts straight brother.

  • peter


    Just for correct numbers…
    I checked both tests in IE9 (version 9.0.7930.16406) and got these numbers:
    acid3 – 95
    html5 – 96

    Not perfect but there are improvements…

    • Jono

      wtf? THE standard???

      That is rather debated…

      I still can’t believe that people tout how great it is that other browsers implement draft standards. Personally I think it is good because it forces the slow moving standards bodies to sort their crap out (well, CSS 2.1 is a poor example of this happening, but still…) but COME ON PEOPLE, they are still drafts. Will people ever stop giving MS crap for not being 100% up with draft standards?

      Another traffic fishing expedition – yawn.

  • lonepsycho

    first of all, are you nuts? what part of “html5 standard is in draft” you don’t understand? there is no such standard yet, period. so talking about which browser supports html5 better is at least completely pointless now, wait until html5 standard becomes a real standard and then and only then start talking. second, if you say that you have had no problems with other browsers, then there two possible reasons for that: a) you haven’t written anything really “special”, b) you did not did tests with other popular browsers. therefore i think that you are nothing more than bragging ignorant and nothing more.
    oh and by the way, I’m not using IE, yet i have not lost my sanity, did not have my brain washed, and I do see the same problems as there have been before. every (and I mean every) browser that is being written is aimed at itself and not standards, so we still face the same problem in the future – coding for browsers and not standards.

  • Christian Sciberras

    What the F are you talking about??
    IE 7 got a score of 1%
    IE 8 got a score of 12%

    IE 9 got a FREAKIN 95% score.

    Look, I don’t want to stand up for the browser that retarded the internet by 20 years but seriously, give it some damn credit. MSIE 9 features are very competitive to Firefox, in terms of speed of specific tests etc. Sure, I grant you a web developer wouldn’t give a s*it if MSIE read title attributes faster, but heck, they’re doing something!!

    Again, if only all those MSIE 6-8 users simply dropped it for MSIE 9, it would be the best christmas present to any web developer.

  • Pete S

    While I feel your pain, simply labeling MS as evil and inept is oversimplifying things greatly.
    IE was created in an age when there were no real standards to adhere to and browsers competed by adding their own proprietary cool new features.
    Firefox and Chrome are in a better position to be able to comply to standards and constantly keep up with new developments precisely because they aren’t relied upon in the same way IE is. If a newer version of Firefox fixes a rendering bug from a previous version and a web-page renders differently, who really cares? If MS were to force upgrade IE versions on people and corporate intranet pages stop working, well that’s a big deal. A very big deal that could cause them a lot of trouble. Ultimately they have to try to balance keeping up with new developments while not breaking compatibility, which are conflicting requirements. MS don’t have the luxury of simply throwing out their old standards and implementing the industry-wide ones which developers of the newer browsers do.

    Having said that, I think not allowing IE9 on XP is a huge mistake that is likely to lead to another IE6 situation where a lot of users are stuck using older browsers.

  • James

    Great article. I wholeheartedly detest IE. Every webapp & website I have ever made has required countless hours of custom tweaking. Really drags as the clients do not want to hear this; “Sorry it is going to be an extra £200 for IE bug fixing, or an extra few days.” They are happy you are trying to make it compatible but expect it free. Well it should be free, part of the job…but considering it takes so much more time and effort it is just a total drag. From IE 6 – 8 – that’s three huge versions yet nothing has improved.
    I love the ie6nomore banner posted above. I will start using that for sure, but I will update it to popup when IE7 is being used and take out the IE8 link. FF, Chrome or Safari. Simple. IE is not worthy of the web and the only use I personally have for it is Outlook Web Access as too mentioned above. It’s a fully loaded email client when used in IE, totally naff when used in other browsers. Ms obviously thought, it will take too long to make our IE specific non-standard code work in those browsers, screw them. Reverse to what we suffer from. Whenever I’m with a client and he fires up IE and i see the huge clunky useless IE6 toolbar i cringe and force a wry smile and think “f***, he’s an IE user. GREAT!” One guy once fired up a cold fired version of Netscape to show me his existing site and said he uses it to catch people out who make sites for him….!

    Moving forward I think it’s best to develop for the future, for the proper browsers and offer a dumbed down webapp with notification and direct download links to other browsers using wording like “SAFER, SECURE, FASTER” when showing the links. People will be attracted to that. Certain functionality which just will not work should be omitted, it’s too costly in terms of dev and QA nowadays and finally we should NOT feel guilty about not supporting IE anymore or feel inadequate and “amateur” if/when a client says “it does not work in IE”.

    Stand strong and repeat the words: “Ok, thank you for letting us know. Simply upgrade to a modern, safe, secure and fast browser and all will be revealed.” Notice how I did not use any comparatives in that statement, as you cannot be moderner than IE because IE is just not modern whatsoever. You cannot be safer than IE, cos IE is just not safe etc. Upgrading to Chrome means you are STARTING being safe, modern, secure from the beginning!

    Good luck to all!

  • Paul Comanici

    Totally agree, for my personal projects now I made one simple validation, every user that uses IE will be redirected to a page from where he can download a real browser ( ) I’m a web developer for 5+ years and I’m tired every time to write extra code, that takes at least 25% of development time, just to make things work in IE and by that code I end up by slowing the application (bigger files, more JS and so on).

    Maybe Microsoft will notice that they lose market share every year and if they continue with this kind of implementation for IE hope they will lose all market share.

    As a conclusion Microsoft by having IE slows the growth and innovation of the web.

  • Dave

    I’ve been developing websites since 99 and have felt the same rage as you on many occasions. IE devs have publicly stated that, “Acid3 does not map to the goal of Internet Explorer” Given that IE has repeatedly been shown to have the most security vulnerabilities of any browser it seems security doesn’t “map to the goals” of IE either. What could the goals of IE be?

  • soyka

    What if one is building mostly intranet apps? Does Firefox or Chrome support integrated windows auth? As far as I know it does not. IE is used in most corporate environments….

  • baruch

    Of course if you don’t know why, then you are clueless. Microsoft has THE leading OS in terms of users. They don’t want to use the “standards” because they want to make their own which will in turn be proprietary, Since web pages don’t always how up right that meet standards, it forces developers to either drive themselves crazy or just use the Microsoft technology. That is of course ASP.NET. This then drives up the sales of Windows Server 2008 (or another Microsoft OS that also has IIS such as Windows 7 Ultimate) and it also increases their sales of .NET licenses (which I believe you are required to buy if you sell or use .NET apps commercially), and it also increases their sales of Visual Studio as well as all of their developer certifications and courses and certification of 3rd party courses. I am sure there is more but you get the picture. If IE was just like the rest of the browsers, then people would use other browsers and all the technology that goes along with it would become less significant. I myself also struggle with this since there are some web sites that will only work with IE which forces me to use Chrome and IE together which I hate.

  • Chris F Carroll

    I sympathise, and yet…. de facto standards happen. IE8 is not rubbish, it is merely uncompliant, but the techniques for cross browser working have been known – and solved – for years.

  • Ollie Jones

    Right on. Be happy you don’t work providing IT services to health care institutions. They are still roughly half IE6. For one thing their workstations are locked down. For another many of them use a horrible old web-based radiology (image display) app that has an ActiveX control designed to be bug-for-bug compatible with IE6 and doesn’t work on IE7, not to mention Firefox, Chrome, or Opera. They say they would upgrade, but they don’t have time to retrain people.

    We humans get addicted to bad stuff, don’t we? 🙂

  • Patrick C

    Not for nothing, I wish that the entire generation of Web site builders that require “modern browser” would simply cease to work at the business. There is an entire generation of belly-button scrutininzing, how-many-angels-cn-dance-on-the-head-of-a-pin Web developers crowding the Internet with entire-application-downloading minimally enabling (but CUTE) Javascript anomination Web sites, engulfing databses and social network encapsulation.

    I applaud Microsoft for trying to encourage these miscreant coders to find some other business, like maybe whoopee cushion apps for Android.

    BTW, I’m serious. Javascript should die. I just want a site to open fast, not engage all my memory and three cores of processors. Just stop the madness.

  • @weallneedheroes

    This is something i agree with, but internet explorer is not holding us back! We hold ourselves back by still trying to support an out of date browser.

    Have a read of the book “Hardboiled Webdesign” by Andy Clark it covers all theses issues. Basicly the visual experiance should be one that the browser supports therefore supporting the top browsers & less capable browsers get a not so pritty but functional version of the stie/app.

    Internet Explorer 6 is something that i am trying to faze out support for at my company & hope that it’s not supported by the end of 2011.

    • Tom

      “As developer confidence erodes, so will their market dominance.”

      Sadly this is where it all falls down. As I read a long time ago, a lot of users don;t even know what a browser is – they just know that “when they click on the blue “e” they get to see the internet”. Even the EU’s ruling that MS had to give users a pop-up forcing them to at least recognise alternatives doesn’t seem to have had the desired effect. The only route that can fix this is user education, but some small site can hardly harangue users into thinking long and hard about alien concepts such as “standards compliance”, and run the risk of driving away their own traffic. That’s why I applaud sites the size of Youtube for taking a firm stance on IE6. Next up IE7…

      • Alan

        I’m not a web developer, but I have experienced this with my own website. IE is a dinosaur and hopefully the process of natural selection (in this case the market) will render it extinct at some point. I’m a Fire Fox true believer, and every time I convince an IE user to switch to FF, they NEVER go back to IE.

    • Interarticle

      Good news is, IE9’s got 95/100 of Acid3’s test scores, so they are actually making a move. Poor thing is, you still have to wait for every Windows XP user to switch from their old trusty and rusty system, and (in my case) pretty aged computers indeed.
      If the European story about Firefox overtaking IE can happen all around the world, then this won’t be an issue, but you need to think for the users. (I’m a developer).
      Why isn’t anyone creating sites suited to IE then tweaking it for other browsers, except Microsoft? Yet why are lots of users sticking to stinky IE? Worth answering, that is.

  • Finnur Hrafn Jónsson

    Now that we have both Flash and Silverlight why would anyone want to build web APPLICATIONS in HTML? HTML was intended for content markup and not applications.

    In my experience with Silverlight there is minimal need to test in different browsers or operating systems. Less than 1% of our testing effort involves testing different browsers.

  • FaTe

    IE is a royal pain in my ass. I develop not only on-line either one of page sets for companies, entire sites or even just general SEO work but I also work with C, VB and other programming languages. The one piece of software that always causes the most development time for compatibility especially when it comes to form design and layout is Internet Explorer. CSS / Style sheets are an addition to web-development not a must but if you MUST use IE then without using lots of CSS to correct all them bugs, misalignments and more then I.E becomes a big jumbled mess nothing how you intended.

    The day IE finally removes the anal block causing these issues (Gates minions who still think IE rocks) are fired and developers brought in who are not blinded by the MS sh!t developer trends will be the day we can all site back… Create 1 code base and just KNOW it’ll work and look the same in each browser.

  • Wez

    In my view IE is the absolute best hands down. I am a web developer (for 16 years now) and I have to test all my sites on all browsers, the top 7 I use reguarly. In my eyes, ie is the only DECENT web browser, the others feel basic and less intuative.

  • Rick

    I don’t have to bother with IE. I build SVG interfaces. IE 9 seems to be working with them better all the time, but I test browsers that put an effort to meet standards. At this point target browsers are WebKit based (Safari, Chrome) and Opera. Firefox is OK, but they, because their SVG development is an autocracy, have opted to deviate from standards and not fully implement SVG.

  • Matt

    Though I feel your pain… right tool for the job. If client cares about IE don’t push HTML 5, yeah you limit what you can do but at least you’ll deliver on time without burning out your team.

    IE sucks, no kidding, it has for 10 years, they are included when standards are set and then fail to implement what the standards say (HTML 4 IE 6 anyone).

    But there’s enough hacks out there to get you 90% of the way there. The last little bit is why not everyone is a web developer.

  • Karl

    I couldn’t have said it better my self. What a well written and to the point post.

    The thing that Microsoft does not seem to understand is that they can force people to use certain products of their because they control the market or because they bundle a free product with a near monopoly product (re Windows 7 and IE).

    However, this may not be a good long term strategy for them. Sure, they control 90% of the desktop, but look how hard it has been for them to move into other markets. I personally won’t even look at a Windows smartphone. And why should I. They’ve made me so angry with having to deal with their heavy handed tactics on the desktop, why would I want to risk the chance of having them aggravate me again by buying one of their phones?

    And why would I bother to use Bing?

    No, I’m just not going to use new products from a company that keeps me using their past and slowly dying products by using heavy handed tactics to make me use them (such as not having their MSDN and advertising web sites work with any browser BUT IE.

    Compare that with Apple’s strategy. They have a devoted fan base. Their customers love them. And they come out with new products that practically start new markets and they have instant successes on their hands (for the most part). Witness the iPhone and iPad.

    Go ahead MS, keep pissing me off. See what I buy from you next…..

  • Nathan V

    I hear you, but I’ve been doing web-based apps for a couple of global corporations who still standardized on IE6. These are companies with 10,000s to 100,000s of employees whose only choice is to use IE6 at work. So the (unfortunate) brilliance of MS is locking in the workplace while the rest of the world moves on. Moral of the story: you can’t even exclude IE6 if you want people to be able to browse at work…. Which totally sucks.

  • Alan8

    Not just browsers; MS development products also waste your time with unending bugs and simplistic passive-aggressive “documentation”. FireFox has its problems too; it hogs CPU time and frantically churns your hard disk even when nothing is happening in the browser. It’s time for me to try Chrome.

  • Mircea

    It is true that a company the size of Microsoft that creates so much software (and not all as bad as IE) should come up with a browser that scores 101 out of 100. Plus, it is really stupid that when you actually can – all those resources that they have – to not do it and constantly lose market share.

    On the other hand I just tested my IE9 beta and it scores 95/100 which confirms what somebody said earlier. It is an improvement and maybe somebody in Redmond listens. So, in this situation why somebody would still think of dropping support for IE in their application. Out of spite or maybe sheer accumulated anger? I can see that but from a business point (as another co-poster pointed out) not a good idea.

    Microsoft, when it takes a previously existing idea and makes a product out if it, traditionally it is a better product. I am at a loss trying to understand what happened in IE’s case. Probably some moron in charge of it.


  • Michael B

    While I agree that IE has a long way to go before it is anywhere near being standards compliant, I’ve never had a problem developing for it because of the approach I take: Develop for IE First. I spend my time up-front producing the website for IE, then go and add enhancements for the other browsers. This is how I make progressive enhancement work for me. If you view with IE, you get a functional website that looks and works fine. If you view with other browsers, you get a few more bells and whistles. I do, however, draw the line at IE6. I don’t support it, flat out refuse to and make it known from the start, and I have yet to have a problem because of it. So, you keep on alienating half of your business and have fun at it. Stick to your guns. Maybe someday you’ll be in the majority.

  • BW

    “Microsoft has a rich feature set for its own browser, but a reduced feature set for non IE browsers.”

    Bingo – conforming to an external standard conflicts with Micro$oft’s interests and strategy.
    They don’t follow standards because they expect to BE the standard.
    An external standard only serves the interests of competing browsers.
    They want developers to use their tools to develop exclusively for their browser,
    and ignore everything else. Allowing someone else to impose a standard is
    not how one goes about establishing a monopoly.

  • Rob

    Whatever dude. I just ran the acid test on IE9 and it gets 95/100… and it’s still in beta. If you report the facts then perhaps people won’t discount everything else you say. It appears MS got the message a couple of years ago and they have done a good job fixing problems that stem from arrogance… Vista was a nice slap down and helpful. Expect to see similar problems with Google since they don’t seem to have any significant competition. I see and hear the same arrogant garbage from Apple folks all the time… they need some tough competition in the phone/pad/online tunes areas. Bottom line… no company is evil. They are full of programmers doing their best to create great products. However, without competition they ALL end up with blinders, earplugs and egos. btw… if your still coding for IE6 and 7 your a big part of the problem. As long as sites keep working on old browsers there is no incentive for the naive to download a free updated browser… quit it.

  • komplikator

    Seriously, people… No, I do not agree…
    HTML parsing engine is what it is. What you get is what you see.

    Truth is – if majority of home users use browser A, and you’re developing for home users, you’ll make sure it looks good in browser A, and as good as it gets in other browsers.

    Besides, why wouldn’t we all ask ourselves a question why don’t we all conform to a same filesystem standard, or a same type of car or why don’t we all live in Canada? Who the hell cares – I use what I like, you use what you like. It’s a part of our job (developers) to act upon that and make our webs work for everyone.

    If you tend to over-do it to create stuff that’s not compatible for all browsers, you just shouldn’t do it. It’s messy and a nightmare to maintain. If you want to show the world that you can do some nifty little thing that noone has ever done before – think again: 1) someone probably has, and 2) noone will care for more than 30 seconds.

    If you appear not to be able to do something you wanted to do – it’s not a standard compliance issue – it’s your issue. You should learn how to do it. I’ve been working as a developer for over 10 years, and I learned some things in my time. I don’t like checking every page in four browsers, but I have to.

    And it’s not only IE that generates problems!

    Btw, I’m currently using IE9 beta, acid3 scores up to 95/100; html5 scores 96/300 + 5 bonus.
    Noone can guarantee you that those tests weren’t made with Firefox or Chrome in mind – just to screw up (probably not intentionally at all) IE and others.

    Acid is not a standard upon which a WORLD agreed. AFAIK, I haven’t agreed to it, or anyone I know. Chrome team + Firefox team does not equal “the whole world”. No, big part of “the whole world” is using IE, and they do not accept acid (obviously 🙂

    IE (and many other browser) lose points on HTML5 tests because they don’t support irrelevant points, such as:

    IndexedDB & Web SQL Database (10 points lost) – browsers all by themselves present far too many security issues to be serious about this. And it’s completely irrelevant. Not even Flash / Silverlight contain serious SQL api interfaces, because those can be misused easily. There are always web services (xml/json) that CAN be used from all browsers using javascript. BTW, W3C says “This specification is no longer in active maintenance and the Web Applications Working Group does not intend to maintain it further” for Web SQL Database, so don’t be stupid.

    FileReader API (10 pts lost) – security threats. You want some weirdo who can write couple of lines of javascript code to rummage around your files? Come on!

    WebSocket – who in their right mind would create a web page that connects to another peer using anything other than HTTP?! It’s enough. Don’t like it? Don’t develop in javascript – use Java or something else.

    Server-sent events – ok, this could be very cool, but not worth 12,5 pts.

    Session history – privacy issue – IE9 HAS session history; but it doesn’t expose history to a malicious developer! Why should it? I don’t want it to, it’s my personal stuff, why should anyone else know my history? Good thinking, MS!

    e.g. W3C proposes pushState and replaceState methods… where the developer can tamper with YOUR history. Useless – if a script replaces my previous history entry, what’s the point of the history? it’s incorrect. I click on back button and end up God knows where. COME ON! where’s the brain in that?

    All in all, yes, I agree that IE’s not standards compliant completely, probably for a good reason. However, do YOU know what you’re talking about?

    Can you go submarine in your car? No, you can’t. Well, you shouldn’t. But if W3C says it SHOULD be able to, it doesn’t mean it’s less of a car if it doesn’t. Because internal combustion engines do not work under water, and W3C didn’t take that into account.

    I wish these stupid arguments would stop already

  • Chad

    Outside of the ranting, you pick and choose your stats and comparisions to bolster your point farther than it deserves. It doesn’t make sense to mix and match across 4 different versions (and 10 years) of IE, seems to me you are doing that to confuse the reader so your argument sounds more convincing.

    The main reason i actually spent the time to write this comment, is because i disagree with your premise to begin with. A skilled designer and developer can make the HTML/CSS/JavaScript stack work in all browsers without much effort. Especially with the advent of jQuery, there is really no excuse to NOT put out quality web apps that work in all browsers.

    The fact that you’re “building fast, good looking, stable web apps for Chrome and Firefox, and then bloating those apps with all sorts of crazy IE workarounds in order to make sure your site doesn’t completely break when used with IE,” shows me that you have already a problem. A more careful design would have saved you the extra time in the first place.

    I do agree with some of your points, and IE was really bad for a long time, it’s true, but smarter people than me have put together the tools that make this a non-issue. Oh, and perhaps your users are tech-savvy, but certainly not all industries can say the same. I work for a Fortune 100 company and 85% of our traffic comes from some version of IE…You’re saying M$FT should scrap IE; I say design better web apps.

  • Brent

    Whenever I develop a website I have all five of the browsers open and I test as I go. There are no surprises when the website goes live. Any of the issues I’ve had were with IE6 and IE7, but for the most part IE8 was cooperative.

    Also, IE8 and IE9 are pretty much on par with the other major browsers in terms of CSS support:

  • Claude

    At my company IE is actually ‘banned’ internally… that way developers don’t waste time coding for IE support for intranet applications

  • john

    I have been working with the IE 9 Beta and for the most part it is a huge improvment. I am looking forward for the RC which should be out soon. The big problem now is even if IE9 is the last version to do things in a horrid way we will still have to deal with IE6,7,8 for the next few years until everyone moves on. The other issue is that most websites have all kinds of code written as :
    if IE then … do some BS

    Most of these sites will have something broken in IE 9.

    I think MS should stop making a web browser. They should be consintrating on making Windows better. Dev time spent on IE is a waste. They should embrace and contribute to Firefox.

    Apple should also stop. While Safari is not as bad as IE is still sucks ass. There are allot of things that work perfect on every browser but Safari for Mac.

  • john

    they also need a damn spell checker

  • Dork

    Uh… With all the frameworks out there that support IE without issue, if you are having this hard of a time getting your site to work in IE, maybe you need to exit the web app business instead of MS exiting the browser business.

    IE8 came out before Acid3 was considered a standard. IE9 passes it pretty well. And some parts of it that it doesn’t pass could be exploited for XSS, which is why it doesn’t pass it.

    If MS has a fault with IE, it’s that it’s IE development cycle is too long. Each version that comes out is modern when it comes out. It only becomes less modern as standards change.

    Honestly, again, that speaks more poorly of web standards than IE. If the standards change so quickly that in two years a browser is obsolete… that’s insanity. Can you imagine if standards changed that quickly in plumbing?

  • Mark A.

    True Acid3 dose not score 100/100 with Internet Explorer,
    but there are some pasrts of Internet Explorer that work better than other browsers.
    Try displaying a video in any other shape than a rectangle and they all fail apart from IE.

    So it’s best to take the Acid3 test with a pintch of salt or ignore it.
    What I find harder to ignore is the large number of pages on the Internet that have JavaScript errors.
    I now turn off error reporting when viewing other web pages, but turn it on when testing my pages.

  • Mark A.

    True Acid3 dose not score 100/100 with Internet Explorer,
    but there are some pasrts of Internet Explorer that work better than other browsers.
    Try displaying a video in any other shape than a rectangle and they all fail apart from IE.

    So it’s best to take the Acid3 test with a pintch of salt or ignore it.
    What I find harder to ignore is the large number of pages on the Internet that have JavaScript errors.
    I now turn off error reporting when viewing other web pages, but turn it on when testing my pages.
    Even this page has an object error on line 39!

  • BigDoor

    Thanks for the vibrant comments everyone! A few of you have correctly pointed out that the latest beta of IE9 scores 95/100 – which is great news. It may have taken MS a few years to finally start supporting CSS2, but they finally seem to be ready to do so, which will be great for web devs everywhere. You can see the recent history of IE9 Acid3 test scores here:


  • Ken Smith

    All you have to do is check out in IE8, and compare its score to the results from Chrome, FireFox, or Safari. Acid3 is just CSS2, which has been around forever, so it should be supported perfectly by IE8. But it scores a total of 20 out of 100, compared to upper 90’s or 100’s for all other modern browsers.

    Folks have pointed out that Acid3 has its flaws, and I’m sure it does. But its results echo the assessment from virtually any web developer I’ve talked to: IE8 stands out as the least-compliant modern browser by a wide, wide margin.

    IE9 is finally scoring well on Acid3, but last I had checked, those scores were a lot lower. That’s definitely good news for developers. I suspect that if folks have a way of supporting some version of IE that doesn’t require all sorts of hacks, they’ll take that route: which means that IE8 and below will probably start breaking with ever greater frequency. Hopefully that will push more folks to stop using them. Finally, a virtuous cycle :-).

    Consider the upgrade issues alone when it comes to IE. Supposing for the moment that IE8 actually supported the CSS/DOM/JavaScript standards that were in effect when the IE8 spec was finalized, why is it that MS is still so far behind all the other browsers on the market? Yes, IE9 is supposed to fix some of that, but IE9 is at best still some months off, and it’s been nearly two years since IE8 showed up. In the interim, Chrome has gone from nothing to arguably the world’s best browser, FireFox has had dozens of minor releases, and and Opera and Safari likewise. The release of IE9 will temporarily fix some of that, but the key word is temporarily. If past releases are any indication, IE10 won’t show up until 2013, and by that time, Chrome and FireFox and the rest will presumably have continued to iterate much faster and innovate much better than the world’s most well-resourced software company. Why is this? Why is it that the beta releases of all the other browsers are more stable than the production versions of Internet Explorer? Why is it that virtually every web developer in the world wishes that IE would die a quick, merciful death?

    I’ll leave it at this: if you think that IE8 is anywhere near as standards-compliant as the other browsers on the market, you’re the only person I’ve ever met that does. (Including the folks from MS, apparently, given how much of a priority they’ve made their Acid3 score in IE9.)

  • what

    Is this post from 2009? IE 9 beta is out already for months and addresses all of these concerns.

  • Justa Guy

    The irony is that Microsoft’s code development tools are generally REALLY GOOD. So why is pretty much everything they develop with it TOTAL CRAP? Either their app developers are morons, or they just don’t care. They seem to waste a LOT of their time engaged in, not ‘change for the better’, but ‘change for the different’. I always imagine these kinds of exchanges at their development meetings:

    Dink: Look what I’ve done with this Windows feature!
    DinkBoss: Wow! Does that work better?
    Dink: Huh?!?!… Uh, no… Just DIFFERENT!
    DinkBoss: Cool! Ship it!

  • Brian Allan

    Someone mentioned previously about leaving 40-50% of potential clientele standing on the sidelines by not supporting IE. We did the economics about two years ago and decided we were farther ahead corporately and professionally (not to mention frustration) by going this route. We’ve seen business grow with about a one-third cut in frustration hours and our clients have bought into the process!

    If someone complains about websites not working on IE we have a standard response, “Use Chrome, Firefox or Opera as your browser and the problem will go away!”. In 90% of cases, users have installed a modern browser. I suspect the other 10% also installed an alternate browser BUT were simply too proud to admit it…

    Microsoft is definitely not doing themselves any favors with their current releases of IE!!

  • Dmitriy Zasyatkin

    I think that every real web developer and designer has gone through this. Its ridiculous how much time is wasted and MS still hasn’t done anything.

    I think that the best thing that we as web developers can do is to provide the end users with a hint to switch to a better browser, and give them a choice between a few of the main ones. (Even after IE9 is released because we know that by the time its out it will already be behind.)

    If people encounter enough of these hints, they will eventually switch over.

  • Doug Hood

    What can I say Keith?

    It’d be more fun to argue with you, but when you’re right, you’re right. I’ve been tracking IE’s gradual demise on my Internaut IQ index for a whole bunch of months now, dreaming of the day the Netizens become Internauts and we can move the internet down OUR path rather than IBM’s or Microsoft’s or Oracle’s chosen channel.


  • BigDoor

    @ Doug Hood, I’ll try to be loud and incorrect about something in the near future so we can have a chance to argue. For now we can both be annoyed and correct.


  • Raheel

    i have tested Opera 11.00, test was successfully, it shows 100/100

  • Jim Lonero

    Keith, might I suggest that when your web page is displayed on IE8 or IE9, that you tell the customer/user that it does not work for IE and point them to the download page of Firefox or Chrome and tell them to download the other browser for free and come back to our web site. If more vendors do this, then maybe MS will get IE up to par.

    Another option, when your software is opened by IE, automatically try to run Firefox or Chrom and inject your web page in. If they do not have one of the desired browsers, then do the part in the first paragraph.

  • BigDoor

    @ Jim, great suggestion and that’s precisely what we do (the former, that is). Here is what we show our business customers when they use our gamification CMS (complete with links to Chrome and FF):

    At BigDoor we utilize advanced web standards and technology and unfortunately Internet Explorer is not capable of delivering a smooth experience when using certain features in your account.

    We invite you to upgrade to a modern browser such as Chrome or Firefox before using our site.

  • Daniel Melanchthon [MS]

    @Brien M & @James: The latest version of Outlook Web Access is supported within Internet Explorer, Firefox & Safari. Even on an Apple PC.

  • Argus Gable

    I’m an IE user. Haven’t found the need to switch. So far, only developers complain.

    Michael B is right. Develop first for IE. It’s what users use.

    Just like manufacturing companies don’t churn out products thinking of left-handed people.

  • irCreative

    You are preaching 100% FACT!!! I have had it with IE!! There needs to be a class action suit brought upon Microsoft for pushing non-standard crap on EVERY operating system they sell. IF they got smart, they would dump IE, and offer customers an option to use either Firefox/Chrome, which I am sure Google and Firefox would not mind; when an operating system is installed, and DUMP IE!!!

    IF I could develop solely with Chrome and Firefox, I would be making three times the money at half the man hours.

    We need to ban together and stop this. It’s all about education, we need to educate our customers on just how bad IE really is. Hopefully they will tell someone and so on, so on etc.


  • Muzi

    yeah i agree that M$ must take responsibility for holding back progress regarding browser innovation. They did it with OS innovation until Apple started getting lots of market share. and its not like they cant do it, look at XBOX 360 or Microsoft Office those are great products. so i think they produce crap browsers on purpose i mean what else would be the goal except purposely give the public crapp.

    Chrome scored 100 and how long has Google been creating browsers for? M$ was1st in the game along with Netscape this is really bad when you look at it. for example i will take a German made car over any other manufacturer, why? because they have built good cars over the years and they still produce some of the best cars today. Thats why this shit doesn’t make sense therefore my conclusion is that they fucking around with us.

  • zaiboot
  • Internet Explorer Sucks For Web Developers

    I could agree more with this article, and I have made a Facebook Page dedicated to anti-IE.

    Feel free to continue this conversation and all others related to Internet Explorer’s ridiculous expectations of Web Developers on Facebook at “Internet Explorer Sucks For Web Developers” (

  • Internet Explorer Sucks For Web Developers

    correction from previous comment….

    “I [couldn’t] agree more with this article…”

  • Pedro Coutinho

    Well, i read this post and tried both tests on my computer using IE8 (for me beta is the same of not existing so no ie9) and Safari absent from your tests, the acid crashed my IE8 and the Html5 gave the same numbers you supplied. As for the Safari 5.0.3 it gave in the acid test 100/100 and on Html5 207/300.

  • wolf

    Read about IE and deciding to stop supporting old and buggy IE browsers:

  • Ben

    *shrug* 99.9999% of my users are corporate users who are still on ie7, maybe they’ll get ie 8 sometime this year, but there’s no chance they’ll be able to install firefox or chrome… the 0.0001% use firefox or chrome or safari from home. It took 100+ hours to make a site that rendered perfectly in all versions of ie render the same on each of the others, and it’s not a hugely complex site, seeing as it has to work in ie7.
    HTML5 and CSS3 are pretty cool, but as they aren’t actually standards, talking about standards compliance is nonsense, the whole video codec thing is just the start… ACID test scores just measure ACID test compliance NOT standards compliance.
    Personally, I’d rather support my users requirements as opposed to bitching about hard work…

  • andrew jimenez

    Im trying to read this post on an iPhone and there’s a giant white box covering thr entire page.

    • Roy

      Hi Andrew, we recently implemented Disqus comments. After seeing your issue, I see in their knowledge base a known issue with mobile, so I’ve implemented a css edit and it appears to display properly now. Sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for reporting the issue!

  • bob haircuts 2012

    “Very great post with excellent and insightful information. Thanks for sharing.

  • Mitchelljohn007

    Man nice to be at your blog again…It has been months for me. Well this article is awesome, and for sure I did not waste my time.

  • Alex

    Develop first for IE, rather than the other way around.