Saturday, June 27, 2009

Microsoft fallacious IE8 campaign

Is the market of browsers so opaque, obscure, for non-technical people, that Microsoft think they can fool them with a simple table?

To summarize the history of facts, Microsoft once had a monopoly in web browsers because the software shipped with their operating system, Windows, which is ubiquitous. They then sat on their laurels for a while (roughly from the end of the nineties to 2006) and lost a part of their market shares to more secure, faster, more flexible browsers, such as Mozilla's Firefox. They finally reacted and released Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8, fixing a lot, but, to many eyes, not climbing to the level of quality of their rivals.

And now, they try to get their market shares back by a marketing campaign, with an awfully simplified and fallacious comparison table.

Now, let's return to normal. Below is their table, with my remarks or modifications in orange.

I do not comment on Chrome, because I have used it too little.

Internet Explorer 8

Firefox 3.0

Google Chrome 2.0



Internet Explorer 8 takes the cake with better phishing and malware protection, as well as protection from emerging threats.

And so can say anyone. But with intimate relations between the operating system and the browser, Internet Explorer puts the system at a greater risk against malware.


The time to fix vulnerabilities once they are public is the shortest in Firefox. Internet Explorer has got the worst record of critical vulnerabilities, sometimes not patched long after they are public.


InPrivate Browsing and InPrivate Filtering help Internet Explorer 8 claim privacy victory.

Ease of Use

Features like Accelerators, Web Slices and Visual Search Suggestions make Internet Explorer 8 easiest to use.

Some might say it's a question of taste. I feel like Internet Explorer is rigid while Firefox is flexible.

Web Standards

Firefox and Chrome have more support for emerging standards like HTML5 and CSS3, but Internet Explorer 8 invested heavily in having world-class, consistent support for the entire CSS2.1 specification.

I don't deny Microsoft made big improvements, but almost any web developer still frowns the eye at the very name of Internet Explorer. Yet, they did improve.

Developer Tools

Internet Explorer 8 has the most comprehensive developer tools built in, including HTML, CSS and JavaScript editing, but also JavaScript profiling; other browsers have developer tools available, but either require you to download them separately, or aren't as complete.

You could also argue that the simplicity of XUL, Firefox's development language, is one reason it's been such a success.


Only Internet Explorer 8 has both tab isolation and crash recovery features; Firefox and Chrome have one or the other.

Only Internet Explorer crashes when too many pages are open at the same time.


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.

I have never found for Internet Explorer precisely the equivalent of what I use in Firefox.


Internet Explorer 8 is more compatible with more sites on the Internet than any other browser.

That's certainly true because of Microsoft long record of purposeful incompatibility which, in the past, encouraged developers to not develop for other browsers. However, I do not know one of the sites that I use today that is not compatible with Firefox.


Neither Firefox nor Chrome provide guidance or enterprise tools.

That's not true. With the tools provided by Frontmotion, you can achieve a similar manageability (for instance, centrally from an Active Directory server) and I would say you get a more precise customizability of what's managed.


Knowing the top speed of a car doesn't tell you how fast you can drive in rush hour. To actually see the difference in page loads between all three browsers, you need slow-motion video. This one’s also a tie.

Whatever recent benchmark shows Internet Explorer as the last of the last browsers in matters of speed.

I was not the only one to notice that :-)
Some comments are worth reading.

EDIT 06/29/2009:
They're going to some extremities for their marketing... in my natal region, they advertise on pizza boxes, and also have a look at this one in the US:

EDIT 07/28/2009:
I have found some pictures of those IE pizza boxes here and here.