- User Friendly comments about Microsoft vs Firefox
The kind folks over at User Friendly had a great piece up yesterday making some interesting commentary about Microsoft's reaction to the new found success of Firefox in the browser market. First of all, it was absolutely fantastic that the folks at Mozilla were able to raise enough money to run their nicely done 2 page ad in the New York Times (they needed to raise $200k but ended up raising more than double that amount) - but on top of that, they released FireFox 1.0 with great anticipation and by a long shot, the reviews are quite positive.
I'm happy for my friends who are still stuck in the PC/Windows world who think the only browser in the world is the one Microsoft saw fit to provide you with. These people are starting to get a taste of what many of us in the Mac & Linux world have enjoyed for some time (tabbed browsing, built in searching, plug-ins, etc). There was a time when IE5 was THE gold standard among web developers but today, it's (IE6) is typically the browser guaranteed to give you the most hassle when you design sites built on standards (CSS / XTML, etc) but hopefully FireFox will at least provide Microsoft with a little motivation to at least do something with IE which hasn't been updated in literally years (and yes, I am aware of the updates made to IE via XP-SP2 but putting in 'features' like pop-up blocking are more adopting to a sign of the times (especially since IE's object model makes it all too easy for a web developer to literally take over your computer with little recourse for the average surfer). Hardening IE is not the same as Improving IE in my book.
Good work Firefox team! I hope this also raises the expectations of just what a browser can be. Microsoft was really pushing the envelope during those early browser war years - with a new release happening almost quarterly (the same was true of Netscape Navigator) - and I was genuinely impressed that Microsoft was actually being innovative and progressive (all on a product that they gave away for free) - but now that market has long been consumed and dominated, Microsoft had literally zero incentive to do anything to IE (why improve what doesn't earn us a dime? -- I dunno, perhaps because as the largest distributor of Internet browsing software in the entire world, you are literally holding back the rest of the web because your browser doesn't even fully support the baseline standards that we developers are trying our best to support. I would really like to see Microsoft do the right thing here and crank out a new and truly great version of IE well before long horn ships but based on several Microsoft developer blogs and podcasts that I follow - I highly doubt that will happen. I wonder if working at Microsoft can sometimes feel a lot like working in the federal government where it's next to impossible to just run with a good idea and make it happen because you are surrounded by red-tape and politics at every turn.
- 12:16:38 PM