Just recently I’ve been getting particularly frustrated by Internet Explorer, and how it’s holding back web design. For those who are still in the dark about such things, let me make it clear that Internet Explorer (which is still used by about 90%) of the world, is rubbish. Complete and utter rubbish. A pile of pants. And before you say “Oh, I’m not a technical person, I wouldn’t understand all the computer-type jargon”, I promise it’s not as technical or complicated as all that! Yes there are some technically-accurate words I could use in places, but the easiest way to demonstrate my point is by showing you an example. Actions speak louder than words, after all.

I’ve just created a nice little web page showcasing some of the things you can achieve with CSS and PNG images. If you are one of the enlightened ones and have a decent browser installed, you’ll see it in all its glory. If you’re using Internet Explorer, you’re doomed to disappointment. It’s not that I’m using some obscure plugin that you haven’t got, it’s not that your computer is too old or too slow, it’s not that you need to upgrade Windows. It’s simply Internet Explorer failing to meet the standards. IE still cannot handle CSS properly, which means that layout goes awol, and PNG images (which have the advantage of allowing for transparency) do not display correctly – instead of rendering the transparent bits as transparent, IE makes it grey. Fat lot of good that is.

This has had a knock-on effect on the web design industry. Because most of the world uses IE6, we have to cater for that group of people more than any other. Unfortunately, this leaves our options decidedly stunted, since we cannot use all the functionality available. For instance, I might create a beautiful web site which uses a few of these well-documented standard techniques, only to find that it doesn’t work on 90% of computers. Thankfully, Microsoft is addressing these problems in Internet Explorer 7, which will ship with what is now Windows Vista, and will also be made available for Windows XP users. Sadly, anyone still using 98 or ME will not be able to use IE7 because Microsoft don’t think you should exist. Of course, if you are one of those people, there is nothing stopping you going and downloading your free copy of Firefox or Opera… Unfortunately for people like me, this comes rather too late – it will just take too long for everyone to upgrade, so for the next few years, we will all still be designing with our heads in the past, stuck in the ruts and Microsoft put us in, unable to move the web forward for fear of 90% of computers falling over.

Categories: Miscellaneous


Phill · 14 May 2006 at 2:33 pm

hey, that test page is freakin’ sweet! I love transparent PNGs 🙂

Firefox rocks (as does any other proper browser….)

Luke · 16 May 2006 at 10:27 pm

yeah! firefox, we’re switching everything to some form of linux as well.

Hertzsprung · 22 May 2006 at 6:17 pm

“Thankfully, Microsoft is addressing these problems in Internet Explorer 7”

Not quite, IE7 will address /some/ of these problems, leave some unaddressed and quite possibly introduce some new ones while they’re at it.

Oh, and before you go z0mgfiref0XXX istehs k00l4age!!1! it’s got it’s fair share of bugs and security holes too, but because it’s not made by the Evil MicroSoft, people seem to let them off the hook.

Phill · 24 May 2006 at 10:11 am

Firefox does have its share of bugs and security holes, but they get fixed pretty quickly. Also the extensions absolutely rock. the Web Developer extension makes my life a LOT easier at times, NoScript makes browsing the web safer, Adblock is fantastic, and I really miss the mouse gestures when using any other browser which doesn’t have them… Firefox isn’t perfect, but at least Mozilla seem to be putting some effort into making it a good browser.

And Matthew, sorry for hijacking your comments 😀

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