In Defence of Internet Explorer59
Opera have kicked up a storm by launching an attack on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. The case focuses on the anti-competitiveness of Microsoft bundling IE with Windows and their poor standards support.
It’s very easy for a web developer to take up arms against Microsoft (Goodness knows we do that often enough!), but in this case Opera is wrong.
I’m Free To Choose Whatever Browser I want
From Ars Technica’s Opera/IE write-up, we have this quote from the Opera CEO:
"We are filing this complaint on behalf of all consumers who are tired of having a monopolist make choices for them."
I’m a FireFox user using Windows Vista. I bought Vista, fired up IE7 and downloaded FireFox right away. And just from this site’s stats, I can tell you that 60% of the readers here did the same.
Microsoft aren’t making choices for me. FireFox and Opera are fully compatible with Windows. If you want them, go get them. Nobody’s stopping you.
Unbundling IE from Windows Is Not an Option
Half the point of having a home computer these days is to access the internet. To access the internet, you need a web browser. If Windows didn’t come with a browser, we’d all be outraged! It’s a compulsory feature… (Even if all you use it for is to get a better browser!)
An OS without a browser simply isn’t an option. Opera’s idea is to "pre-install alternative browsers on new PCs," to which I say:
Windows Does Not Come With 3rd Party Software
Let me add to that; please Microsoft, for the love of all that is holy, do not add 3rd party software to Windows!
There are more than enough security holes in Windows as it is. The last thing I (Or any other Windows user!) want is for new ones to appear. If Microsoft is to have any chance of fixing its security problems, it needs to be in complete control of its own product.
Standards-Compliance is Not a Legal Requirement
The W3C are not the law, just a respected group of people. They don’t publish rules, they publish recommendations.
Standards between browsers is a great thing. You’d be hard put to find anyone that disagreed with that.
The W3C aren’t the be all and end all though. They have their own set of problems. Anyone can publish their own ideas about how best to move the internet forward (For example, MS’s old version of the CSS box model was much better than the W3C’s!). That’s the idea behind an open internet.
Microsoft don’t need a lawsuit to get them to develop to standards; they just need some common sense. IE6 and it’s lack of standards and features were costing MS a lot of business! How many of us swapped to FireFox during those tab-less times?
If MS want a browser without standards, let them. It’s just going to increase the FireFox user base…
Improvements are Being Made
Eric Meyer made a great point earlier; the time for this lawsuit was years ago. When IE6 was holding us back, and IE7 had taken 5 years to develop. But IE7 isn’t holding us back anymore. And IE8 is already in the works.
IE’s standards support isn’t perfect, but it’s getting there. The tagline for IE7; "We heard you. You wanted it easier and more secure." They’re getting there.
If this results in another half billion dollar fine, you can bet that the IE development budget will be taking part of the hit, slowing things even further…
FireFox – If They Can Do It…
One browser that had no advantages over Opera is FireFox. And yet, FireFox has about a 30% share of the browser market, whilst Opera has 1 or 2%. How did that happen?
Well, FireFox built a fantastic product. They were innovative. They encouraged open-source development. And they were well marketed.
IE paired with Windows and FireFox paired with Google. "Download FireFox with Google Toolbar." You’ve all seen that ad, and many of us have clicked it.
They didn’t get to where they are with fines and law-suits.
So What’s An Opera To Do?
Go back to the old-fashioned way of competing; build the better browser. Opera may already be better than Internet Explorer, but any marketer will tell you that the best product isn’t always the one that gets picked.
Opera has to be so much better that it’s actually worth swapping and getting used to a new browser. They need to be worth talking about.
Perhaps an Opera user could do Opera’s job for them, and tell me something great about Opera? I’ve no problem swapping over if you can convince me it’s worth my while.
So, that’s my opinion. Do you think Opera are in the right or wrong here?
Enjoy this post? You should follow me on Twitter!