Simon Willison’s Weblog


Get a better browser!

20th February 2003

Via Scott, this oh-so-true quote from a Microsoft “next-generation technology” consultant:

Internet Explorer hasn’t had any revolutionary features for over 3 versions now. And it’s now surprise why. No outside push. Not to say Internet Explorer is bad. But I use it more because it’s always there not because it’s necessarily better than other alternatives that I would have to download and install.

I’ve been telling my friend’s something similar for a while. Internet Explorer 6 is now over a year and a half old, and in my opinion just doesn’t cut it as a serious browsing platform any more. It’s fine for casual use, but if like me you spend well over an hour every day surfing the web you would almost certainly be better off with something more capable. Pop-up blocking, tabbed browsing and fixed-sized-font resizing all go a long way towards making the web a more pleasant and productive place—not to mention the fact that most really lame advertising techniques use MS proprietary DHTML and fail to work at all in other browsers.

It’s not like the alternative options are even particularly arduous to install. Opera 7 for Windows weighs in at a paltry 3.2 MB without Java support and Phoenix (my browser of choice) is only 6.2 MB. Both install without making any unpleasant changes to your system and are easy to remove if you decide you don’t like them. If you do a lot of web development Mozilla offers a superb range of web development related tools for only a 11 MB of your valuable download time.

The only reason I can see to stick with IE is if you frequently work with a web-based application that requires proprietary IE extensions (such as the ever problematic contentEditable), and of course for testing sites to ensure they stay compatible with the web’s most wide-spread browser. For every day web browsing you can be a lot more productive with something else.

Further reading:

This is Get a better browser! by Simon Willison, posted on 20th February 2003.

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