Death to Internet Explorer! Long Live Internet Explorer!

Posted Feb 2nd, 2010

There has been a lot of negative press surrounding Internet Explorer. This week, Google sent an email to Google Apps administrators explaining their intentions to phase out support for Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0. Just last month, French and German governments asked citizens to stop using the Internet Explorer browser (no matter the version). Yes, there is even a blog titled "Why IE Sucks." (Parental discretion advised).

We’re of mixed opinion on the matter. Do we believe people should dump Internet Explorer? Yes! In fact, I outline three reasons why below. At the same time, due to subpar browsers like Internet Explorer, the value of cross-browser functional testing using Selenium is that much more important and relevant. Call it job security for testers.

I have no secret reason to pan Internet Explorer. I work closely with all browser flavors including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera. Though I am a former Googler, I have no built-in bias to push one browser over another. And even though I recommend users not use IE, Sauce Labs supports and will continue to support IE in our downloadable products, Sauce IDE and Sauce RC, and our cloud testing service, Sauce OnDemand. With that context, here are three reasons why I feel you should dump Internet Explorer.

  1. IE is a virus magnet Virus authors target IE/Windows users because IE still has the majority market-share. If they targeted Opera users, even if they had 100% success rate, they'd still not have a massive impact. In this case, following the herd can get you more hurt. Meanwhile, creators of Firefox and Chrome argue that their browsers are more secure than IE in that their open source nature makes it easier for security analysts to inspect the source code and fix security holes. Of course, the best way to test that argument will be when Firefox or Chrome reaches majority market share (already true in some places) and virus authors target those browsers, too.

  2. IE is slower IE 6,7,8 are all significantly slower compared to Firefox, Chrome, and Safari when viewing very dynamic sites (like Google Maps or Gmail). Google Chrome is arguably the fastest. Among the "alpha geek" set, Google Chrome (and the non-Google branded Chromium version) is becoming their every-day browser because it is so fast.

  3. Web-standards and innovation MS is becoming irrelevant to the conversation. Microsoft is not keeping up, so users are missing out on new features. HTML5 brings offline storage, and new kinds of applications that leverage the new <canvas> and <video> tags. Microsoft is moving so slowly that web developers are more often ignoring IE to focus on Firefox, Chrome, and Safari when building bleeding-edge applications. IE users will be left behind for these new applications. This is especially true on mobile devices, where the WebKit rendering engine is the de facto standard. On the desktop, Chrome and Safari are built on WebKit and are benefiting in new features and bug fixes because of the innovation going on in the mobile space.

Written by

Jason Huggins


Cross-browser testing