Internet Explorer: Reasons Why NOT To Use It

11Nov10

Recently, I’ve had conversations about why not to use Internet Explorer, and it prompted me to write a post I could refer people to online.

As a designer, I am extremely frustrated with Internet Explorer – and you should be too. I use and recommend FireFox for a reason – it is stable, it is constantly updated, and works with most web sites. It has issues of its own – it can be a memory hog, for example – but it is by far what I consider the best browser right now. I also like Safari, Opera, and Camino.

So what are some concrete reasons behind my recommendation against Internet Explorer in general, and my refusal to design for any version earlier than IE7? (And my reason behind refusing to design for future IE versions at all.)

Common Internet Standards Ignored
The internet works as a cohesive unit only because all makers of browsers and web sites adhere to certain commonly accepted standards of design and use. Microsoft consistently ignores these standards in favor of being proprietary. this means they would rather everyone be forced to use their software model than change their model to meet fast changes and increasing demand for cross platform and cross browser compatibility.

This makes Internet Explorer the hardest browser to work with. If I design a web site and it isn’t working in FireFox or Safari, for example, the tweak to fix the error is small, because they both accept the same standard of design and use. If it doesn’t work in IE, forget it. The tweak to make it happen in IE is massive and time consuming. I already spent huge amounts of time designing the page and getting it to work in four common browsers, I don’t want to spend additional days on end trying to make IE “see” it.

ActiveX Is The Debil
Safety is another huge issue with IE. Other browsers do not use or accept ActiveX and Active Scripting, two Microsoft applets that allow people to access your browser for various programs. These two programs allow someone else the possibility of controlling your computer, and open a huge barn door for viruses, adware, spy ware, malware and phishers to come strolling leisurely through.

Go ahead and use your virus software and your firewall – as long as you also use IE, you may as well give it up. You will continue to get malware on a regular basis, clogging your computer’s arteries, causing slowdown and crashes and possibly putting your data at risk. Of course, any virus or malware can still get on the machine of someone using one of the other browsers. The main difference is that the users of other browsers more often have to actually open a file or interact with it in some way to allow it in with them, and IE lets malware in for you.

Does Not Accept Extensions and Add Ons
No software can accommodate the complete wishes of its user base. It’s impossible. Other browsers, like FireFox and Safari, acknowledge this by allowing third party programmers to build extensions and add ons that handle the missing features, making every one happy. Internet Explorer demonstrates great hubris by not allowing their user base to create or add features that address issues with their software and its lack of compatibility with so many things.

Ugly Web Spaces
Have you ever viewed a web page designed solely with IE in mind in another browser? They are hideous, non functional, clunky pages in every case, on every other browser. Safari does the best job of “fixing” the looks of an IE page, but it can’t do much to fix the way they work (or don’t). Thinking the web still has to be hard to use and ugly is just wrong. The moment you switch to any other browser, your mind will opened to a beautiful looking, easy to use, functioning web.

Overwrites
When you install IE, you allow it to overwrite your system DLL files. The files it installs are not 100% compatible in many cases, mainly because it not only refuses to be compatible with much of the web, but with its own operating system as well. This can lead to system slow down and crashes. Add in the malware issues mentioned above and you have a real morass on your hands.

Java Issues
Did you know that Microsoft Java is not the same as the Java everyone else uses? I would be willing to bet you didn’t. I’d also be willing to bet you’ve experienced the frustration of going to page with Java applets on the recommendation of friends or colleagues who have been using it flawlessly in other browsers, only to find it doesn’t work right for you.

This is just another example of IE refusing to comply with the standards everyone else uses. They want you to have to use Microsoft products and Windows, and they think shutting you off from most of the web’s functionality will convince you that is necessary. It just isn’t so. You can use FireFox and still use your Microsoft programs. Changing browsers won’t blow up your computer – it will just open new doors to you online.

Linux Incompatibility
This makes no sense to the average web user, but Internet Explorer’s continued incompatibility with Linux is an issue for a very tech savvy sector of the online market.

Internet Explorer Is Bad For The Web
And For You

There are so many reasons not to use Internet Explorer I had some difficulty putting them into a list. In fact, there are so many I keep thinking I forgot a few. Did I? Let me know if I did.

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