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Internet Explorer Paradox

Can Microsoft develop a browser that doesn't frustrate their own internal web developers when developing Microsoft web applications and sites?

  • If no: then Internet Explorer is not the browser to be designing sites for, but, instead, developing for standards compliance browsers like Firefox, Konqueror and Safari.
  • If yes: then why haven't they improved the browser to adhere to standards compliance to ease the pain of development?

Please enlighten me.

{ 11 } Comments

  1. dbr | February 16, 2007 at 3:31 am | Permalink

    Standards-compliant or not, IE is widely used (Willingly or not) - You have to develop for it, simply because it's so widely used. But, I agree - I've never understood why such a large company like Microsoft can't (or more importantly, *don't* ) make IE standards-compliant.
    The only vaguely plausible explanation I can think of is that it's implementation of CSS is required for Explorer's (the file-browser part, which if I remeber correctly is largely based of IE) display - But even if it's remotely true, it's hardly a reason to have a non-compliant browser..
    - Ben

  2. nfin | February 16, 2007 at 4:19 am | Permalink

    Hi !

    I am happy, that some people do ask themselves this question !

    Joel gave a very good answer to this. The article is already a bit old, but there are a lot of smart and true things in it. It is worth reading it, event if it is a bit long:


  3. nfin | February 16, 2007 at 4:21 am | Permalink

    So to sum-up... it was all intended...
    It is a pitty... but thankfully Firefox helped to put some presserue on Microsoft.

  4. Christer Edwards | February 16, 2007 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    They don't because they don't have to (or they believe they don't have to). They are large enough that they can try to develop their own standards, even if those fly in the face of established standards.

    Every M$ fanboy I know uses Firefox. The people that use IE simply just don't know any better.

  5. Aaron | February 16, 2007 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    dbr- I know that it is the most widely used browser. I'm not arguing that. What I wonder, is if the developers for Microsoft sites have just as hard as a time developing for IE as the rest of the world does. If not, what is their secret?

    Christer- But don't the in-house Microsoft web developers have the same frustration that the rest of the web developers do? Take, for example, absolute positioning, or transparent png's. Don't these bother in-house devs?

  6. Anonymous | February 16, 2007 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Yeah forget that browser. If people still are like "let's make our page compatible with that shitty browser" you are just making your code more shitty and you arent helping Firefox. If you are like that people will still use IE. If you put a message like "your browser is not W3C compliant, get a decent one" and you point them to Firefox they will realize that their browser sucks and they will change it.

  7. Aaron | February 16, 2007 at 12:23 pm | Permalink


    Well, unfortunately, that attitude doesn't work in corporate or business settings. I am a web developer professionally, and I just can't take that attitude. I have to make my browser compatible with IE. I just do. However, I can put links and information on my site about using a standards compatible browser, and encourage them to use it.

  8. Jon | February 16, 2007 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    They did. IE7 is a major step. Just not all the way.

  9. Aaron | February 16, 2007 at 2:55 pm | Permalink


    That brings up another question: why can't I develop for both version 6 and version 7? It seems to me that Microsoft is only interested in making my web development career difficult.

  10. Matthew Kimber | February 19, 2007 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Let's not forget that even these supposed "standards compliant" browsers render things completely different. You just never know what you're going to get when developing a page targeted at more than one browser. We've all had to go through the "tweak" phase of an interface design.

  11. Aaron | February 19, 2007 at 9:48 am | Permalink


    No doubt. You can't target one browser when developing. You need to test for all of them.

    But, the "supposed" standards compliant browsers, as you call them, make web development easy. Internet Explorer makes it a pain, and I wonder if internal Microsoft web developers feel that pain or not.

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