Internet Explorer 8 – The Drama Begins

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What Does IE 8 Mean To Developers?

Personally, I’m ecstatic that Microsoft has released Internet Explorer 8. The great part is that they’ve stuck it in the Windows Automatic Updates and they’ve already started rolling it out Windows users. I damn near threw a party to celebrate.

Of course, we won’t be seeing the real benefits for a while (maybe for a few years, even), but the point is, the process has begun. Does this mean we can say goodbye to IE 6, CSS hacks, and IE conditional tags? Well, of course not! It’s never that easy when it comes to Windows or Microsoft. But again, the process has begun.

Am I saying that there are no problems with the other browsers? No I’m not. Try to find an old copy of Firefox 1.5 and load up a current website. It’s going to look very ugly. The point is, Firefox (I’m not sure about the other browsers) has long ago implemented automatic updates to their products. Old versions, simply disappear.

You Just Can’t Make People Happy

For years, Microsoft has been getting flack about old versions of Internet Explorer. The irony is that, now they’ve finally done something about it, but not everyone is happy.

The blogosphere is heating up over some some interesting options in the Internet Explorer 8 installation process. Eager to spread its shiny next-generation browser, IE 8, to the masses, Microsoft has included an option which resets the user’s default browser in what some argue is too subtle a manner. The “Express” option during the IE 8 install is designed to make the install quicker and easier for novice users.

Seriously, What’s The Big Deal?

The funny thing is that, unlike many installations I’ve seen, the “Express” option isn’t checked by default. Both choices are blank. You can’t accidentally perform the Express install by just hitting the Next button (yes, that’s how I perform most of my installs). You have to purposefully click the “Express” button.

However, I don’t see what the big deal is, honestly. I don’t see how this is different from any other browser install. I can’t be sure (I’ve never had a clean install for a while) but, I don’t think there’s a way to stop the Firefox Automatic update, once it gets started. I open up my browser and magically there’s a new version. At least Microsoft takes you through the installation process.

My point is, who cares? If a user is savvy enough to install Firefox or Opera, this is the worst case scenario:

  • Install IE 8 and unknowingly set it to default.
  • Hit the “Internet” button and be surprised when IE 8 loads up.
  • Get’s slightly annoyed
  • Click the “Firefox”/“Opera” icon
  • Get prompted to make that browser default again.
  • Go on with life.

It takes all of 4.5 seconds to correct the problem. Are the other browser makers that scared that people will actually say:

Hmmph, well since it’s already defaulted let me see what it’s about. Wow, IE 8 is actually cool.

So what? Is that really sure a bad thing? If, God forbid, Microsoft finally gets something right and builds a better browser, then what’s the harm in people using it?

Mozilla has nothing to fear from me, personally. I can’t live without my Firefox Add-ons. Or maybe I’m just bias; as long as IE 6 goes away I’ll be happy.

Opera’s Solution?

Opera wants the commission to make Microsoft offer alternate browsers using the same Windows Update service the latter relies on to upgrade IE. “That’s one possible remedy,” said Lie, who called it a “must-carry” solution, meaning Windows would have to provide multiple browsers, not just IE.

That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Does Ubuntu automatically install Opera/Safari (hell it might, I’m not really sure 🙂 but I know it does Firefox)? Does OS X have Firefox/Opera on the list when performing an update? The answer is no! So why would Microsoft do something that stupid? OS X comes with Safari and most regular users don’t question it; Ubuntu comes with Firefox installed and most regular users don’t question it. So what’s the big deal with Microsoft doing the same?

I say leave it up to the user. Right now, it doesn’t matter for a regular user because they are not using a better browser. It doesn’t matter for advanced users, because they know better. Again, this is my bias talking. We’ve started ti slowly inject Internet Explorer 6 with cyanide, now we get to watch it’s slow, painful death; Yay!

Now if we could only get the cooperate enterprise, government, and educational masses to perform the Windows Update, I’ll go ahead and dance a jig.