Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Death of Microsoft Internet Explorer

Ok, so the headline is probably a bit premature but I'm not talking globally, I'm talking about my own user experience.

Some time ago, I was a major supporter of Internet Explorer and was urging people to abandon the various other browsers while meeting with stiff resistance from the Netscape camp. Eventually Microsoft won and we all went for Internet Explorer.

Fast forward a few years and the unthinkable has happened - after about a couple of months of switching between browsers, I've finally abandoned the Microsoft camp for Firefox.

So, was the decision the result of MS-Dislike? Was it because Firefox had better features? Nope. It was entirely based upon usability and reliability.

Arguably the best marketing Firefox ever had was the release of Internet Explorer version 7. There are two reasons why this is the case;

  1. IE7 was widely touted as the "Firefox Killer".
    What this did was raise awareness that there was another solution out there. Sure, we all knew that Firefox existed, but until Microsoft considered it a threat, there wasn't a great deal of compulsion to investigate it.

  2. Like all initial releases of Internet Explorer version 7.0 is buggy as ever.
    IE7 crashes a lot and doesn't work with a lot of web sites. The security features are very obtrusive, don't provide enough protection and often get in the way of functionality.

  3. The User Interface is Different Again!
    Microsoft just keeps repeating the same mistakes over and over again. The user interface worked, so why change it? This is exactly the thing that is getting them into trouble with the new version of office. I had less trouble remembering where the Home and Refresh buttons were in Firefox (which was new to me) than I did in the upgrade from IE6 to IE7.

Early Reactions
My initial reaction on downloading IE7 was to download Firefox for comparison. In the early days, I preferred IE - particularly the way their tabs and downloads worked. I was also unhappy with the copy/paste facilities of Firefox.

Finally I noticed that my version of Firefox was old and I upgraded. Well, that fixed the majority of problems (especially the tabs). I still can't copy/paste to Wordpad and retain rich text formatting, but strangely enough it works in Notes.

Since my copy/paste in IE was usually convoluted (see below), I'm much happier with Firefox because it cuts out a number of steps. Copy/Paste from Firefox to Notes works with both Rich text and plain text. I can live without Wordpad support.

Copying Rich Text in IE7

  1. Copy from IE

  2. Paste into Wordpad (to lose the tables)

  3. Copy from Wordpad

  4. Paste Into Notes

Copying Plain Text in IE7

  1. Copy from IE

  2. Paste into Notepad (to lose the tables and formatting)

  3. Copy from Notepad

  4. Paste Into Notes

(If I didn't do this, I would get an "only text can be pasted into this field" error message).

The Add-ins
The other thing that really helped me make the Firefox switch were the addins, which are fantastic. There's a great download manager which gets around some of the less than perfect download screens in Firefox. I've also found some great addins to get around the copy/paste issues.

I've been using Firefox exclusively now for the past 3 weeks but I accidentally fired up IE7 this morning - and guess what - it crashed and sent a bug report to Microsoft.

So - what are you waiting for - download Firefox today!