For more than ten years, I've been assisting companies in building and maintaining their Web sites and Web applications. There are lots of things that can be frustrating about this process, most of which have to do with a lack of knowledge on the part of my clients, which is not entirely their fault. If I didn't have to know about such things, I wouldn't want to either.
But one thing that drives me nuts and is often a problem perpetuated not by my clients but by nerds and engineers is the idea that Internet Explorer is a good browser. Too often, my clients are required to use IE for intranets because lazy developers have built them to work only with that browser or, worse yet, with an old version of it.
IE creates all sorts of problems for developers because Microsoft doesn't deal with the nuts and bolts of the Internet in the same way as other companies. As a result, Web sites that look great and work perfectly in Chrome or Firefox or Safari look like crap and cease to function when you open them in Explorer. Fortunately, people are turning away from IE in huge numbers. In 2002, more than 80 percent of Internet users surfed the Web using IE. Today, it's less than 20 percent, making it even more ridiculous to develop something that only works with that browser.
So, if you are in that 20 percent still wasting your time and making Web site developers hate you, here are five reasons to switch to something else.
5. Speed IE 9 has certainly improved in this arena, but Google Chrome is still substantially faster and if rumors are to be believed, Mozilla is working to improve the speed of Firefox in future upgrades. Even Safari performs better than IE, and Safari is a remarkably lackluster browser considering Apple is normally pretty good at delivering Mac-only software products -- a good reason to use iCab on your iPhone instead of Safari.
4. Security Clients have often told me their IT departments claim IE is significantly more secure than other browsers. This is simply not true. A recent comprehensive security study concluded that Chrome is substantially more secure than other browsers, IE in particular.
3. Compatibility There hasn't been a version of IE for Mac since Safari was developed in 2003 despite the fact that there is a Windows version of Safari. Frankly, what Mac user would want it? The lack of compatibility, particularly with mobile devices and the iPad, makes IE nearly obsolete.
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2. Memory Suck When you spend a lot of time on your computer, the one thing you don't want is software that hogs your active memory. When one piece of software requires a lot of your computer's attention, it slows the machine's performance and makes using it really annoying. While it isn't quite as memory-intensive as Firefox (get on that, Mozilla), it still takes a ton of your computing power.
1. Code Problems When programming code for the Web, the goal is always to make it simple and fast-loading. Unfortunately, IE makes that difficult because it doesn't like to play by the same rules as everyone else. Most browsers operate using a set of generally agreed-upon standards to make browsing easier and help coders. Microsoft, as usual, has decided to write its own playbook and it creates a mess for developers. It also means the Internet you view while using IE can be radically different from the experience of Firefox and Chrome users and not for the better.