Last week I posted about this recent ad for Internet Explorer 9 and remarked that even though I hate IE, I loved the ad.
Funny thing – apparently my post caught the attention of some members of the Microsoft Internet Explorer team and I got a nice email from one of them asking about my experience with IE and why I disliked it so much. I explained that my frustration stemmed from moments like this:
“Does the page look right?” Yes.
“Does it look right in IE?” No.
CSS that looks great in modern browsers can render completely wrong in IE 7 and even 8. Style sheets are packed with lines of code just to make the page work semi-properly across all currently-used browsers. This isn’t a problem exclusively with Microsoft, but previous versions of IE are the cause of the lion’s share of the issues.
Admittedly, IE9 has made large improvements in front-end compatibility with other browsers. But there are enough people still using older versions that it can be a real pain to ensure web site compatibility for the largest audience possible. Microsoft has taken steps to address this by making browser updates an automatic feature for Windows users. That will hopefully get us to a point where the majority of people are using IE 8 & 9 (depending on which version of Windows they’re running).
In the past it was easy to get the impression that Microsoft just didn’t care. That their browser was the top dog and they had no incentive to play nice with the rest of the internet. It seems now, based on my recent email exchange and what they’ve done with IE9, that the company is genuinely interested in creating a modern browser on par with its rivals.
Ultimately, I think it speaks volumes that when the people on the IE team saw criticism online (and lord knows mine isn’t the only thing on the internet critical of IE), they took it as an opportunity to learn more about how they can better serve their customers. That’s not the type of action I would have associated with Microsoft, and I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong.