Unclear on the concept

>> Friday, June 19, 2009

See, here's an example of the kind of thing I dislike about Microsoft, from their new IE8 as campaign:

Myth #3: Firefox is a richer, more adaptable browser than Internet Explorer.

The Real Deal: Internet Explorer 8 has much more functionality than other browsers, built in from the minute you open it.

Internet Explorer 8 has much more functionality than other browsers, and its functionality is there from the moment you open the browser. Internet Explorer 8 offers almost all of the features the most popular add-ons in Firefox have, and you're able to personalize your browser in a way that saves you time and research.

Did you know that there are more than 1,700 Internet Explorer 8 add-ons available at the Add-ons Gallery, with more being added every day? Partners all over the world are building Accelerators, Web slices, and Visual Search plug-ins for your browser, including Facebook, Amazon, eBay, and much more.

And on a related page:

Sure, Firefox may win in sheer number of add-ons, but many of the customizations you'd want to download for Firefox are already a part of Internet Explorer 8 – right out of the box.

See, let me state the glaringly obvious: "adaptability" or the ability to customize has nothing to do with how something works out of the box. And it actually doesn't necessarily have anything to do with add-ons, for that matter: the ability to turn off things you don't like is as much a crucial aspect of customization as the ability to install add-ons.

That latter point is especially fatal to Microsoft's pretentiousness and posturing; Windows™ (and Internet Explorer as, essentially, a Windows™ component) is a commercial product, but it's a commercial product that has difficulty distinguishing itself from competitors by functionality (the "windowed" GUI invented by Xerox/PARC is pretty ubiquitous, and web browsers all basically do more-or-less the same thing). So Windows (I'm going to drop the appropriate-but-snarkily-used "™" because my wrist hurts) and IE8 have to be distinguishable by trade dress, appearance elements that may not be useful or may even retard usage but make Microsoft's intellectual property instantly recognizable. Were Microsoft to make trade dress elements customizable, they'd jeopardize their income, so they can't and won't do it. Which is one reason it's not unusual for unpopular "features" in Microsoft (or Apple) products to remain inviolate and untouchable.

Microsoft could play up IE8 by simply not mentioning Firefox's established lead in the add-ons department. It's a new browser, after all, and the number of add-ons (now that Microsoft has finally released a browser that can handle add-ons) will continue to grow. Instead, they choose to mention it and offer an explanation that manages to convey the impression they they (1) think their users are really stupid and (2) don't care what they really want (after all, why do you need add-ons at all, when IE8 already has everything you want, as long as everything you want is in IE8?).

It's irritating, is all.

As it happens, I've been using IE8 under Vista (I use Vista as a gaming OS so it's probably not worth installing Firefox; under Linux, my get-things-done OS, I use Firefox 3.x), and I haven't been much impressed. Some features that I'd want to install that come with, such as colored tabs, aren't all that useful or even attractive, but aside from the merely aesthetic, I've found IE8 frequently difficult to use, and when it crashes it crashes hard (if there's some kind of Session Manager plugin for IE8, 'twould be nice; it certainly doesn't seem to be one of those already-included things mentioned in the ad). And tabs that don't immediately load for whatever reason generally don't load and seem to be impossible to get to merely by F5ing or otherwise refreshing--you have to cut'n'paste the dead page's address to a new tab or close and reopen, which is just kludgey and annoying. But for whatever reason, I'd be happier if Microsoft didn't add insult to these minor injuries and vexations with an annoyingly disingenuous ad campaign, is all.


Nathan Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 9:32:00 AM EDT  

I haven't tried IE (I'm totally happy with Firefox), but I took a look at bing.com last nite when I saw an ad for it.

Not impressed at all. They have the usual choices to search web, maps, images, etc. When you click "more", it just shows you the same options arranged differently on the page. The tour takes you to a page that is, more or less, a dead end. Oh...and the images don't support PicLens (which I'll remind you, I love, love, love).


vince Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 10:02:00 AM EDT  

I have yet to install IE8 on either my XP or Vista machines. There are a lot of site that don't work in it except in IE7 compatibility mode, and I've had to uninstall it because of problems for the only two people I know that have installed it.

kimby Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 10:49:00 AM EDT  

I stopped using IE when they stopped supporting Mac....I am happy with Firefox and if I REALLY NEED another browser, I'll use Safari. (although I don't like Safari...don't like the bookmark configuration)

Random Michelle K Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 2:29:00 PM EDT  

As someone who does wen design for fun, I despite IE. I hate their arrogant refusal to follow web standards, and although IE 8 was supposed to be compliant, I'm not counting on it.

I also hate that if you have automatic updates, it just sneaks in there (I check updates before install, because I don't want or need all that come out automatically.)

I love Firefox, and use it primarily, but Safari is tolerable.

What's worst about IE are sites that only work "fully" using IE. Like fucking Outlook Web Access. If you are using a mac, and your employer is using MS Exchange, you're basically given a broken product. (Entourage is pretty terrible, and web access is only available through the "light" version.

Rat bastards.

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