back to article Why port your Firefox add-on to Internet Explorer?

Is there a good reason to build a browser add-on for Internet Explorer as well as Firefox? Yes, according to Microsoft IE evangelist Joshua Allen. Building an add-on for IE is so difficult, he said, your browser app competitors won't even bother. "It's harder to write apps for IE - so it's a harder market for competitors to …


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  1. Chris Ovenden
    Gates Horns


    Our platform is crap - that's why you should use it.

  2. Luke Bearl

    But who hears of add-ons for IE?

    I am (forced to be) a windows user... and I have never even really heard of the plugins for IE, which means that the 70+% market share probably has never heard of them before either.

  3. janimal

    People already write add-ons for IE

    They're called MalWare

    Mine's the one next to the crappy old coat which doesn't keep you warm or dry

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Alternate Titles

    Writing an add-on for IE8 is so hard, it proves you are a bloody genius, so why not do it!!!

    Writing an add-on for IE8 is so hard, it proves you are a bloody idiot, so why do it!!!

  5. Christoph

    Here, have this poison pill

    If all of your competitors think it's a really stupid idea and won't touch it, then sure, go ahead!

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Sometimes I wonder

    if Microsoft is even in the same solar system as the rest of us, let alone on the same rock

  7. Colin Wilson

    It's so hard...

    ...only keyloggers, remote exploits, and scam advertisers bother. Nice.

    Mine's the one with the BHO in my bank account :-/

  8. Ropata
    Gates Halo

    Heard of IE7Pro?

    It is EASILY the best add-on for IE ; making it nearly as good as FF/Opera

  9. Steve

    Openness is good...

    It's good that Microsoft are more open these days. But there's no need to burn the company down!

  10. Steve


    Here here!

    Using for a while now and it's awesome. IE7 with Vista (e.g. Protected mode) and IEPro make it safer than FF with all the functionality plus some.

  11. Steve Davies Silver badge


    And what exactly is so wrong with Ad blockers?

    Many organisations forget that the Internet is a global thingy.

    For example if I'm browsing a site hosted in France from the USA why would I be interested in adverts for a French Bank.

    I'll expect that some bought and paid politicial somewhere want to pass a law to ban adblockers to please their masters but that is a few less sites to visit.

    Mines the One with Adblock+ in the back pocket.

  12. Mark Monaghan

    Port your add-on to IE...

    ... and, if we like it, we'll incorporate something totally-different-from-it in the next version.

    Hard to port ye swabs!

  13. James Pickett
    Gates Horns


    "languages like Python or Microsoft's C#"

    MS has a language called C-hash? How appropriate...

  14. Pierre
    Gates Horns

    Why there will never be significant IE add-ons developpment

    "They tend to install things like ad blockers, whereas the Internet Explorer user is more mainstream."

    So, I should develop an ad-on for IE because IE users don't use add-ons?

    "But the trick here is that you'll have to make sure your add-on works on all versions of CLR" Mwahahahahahaha!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wait, what?

    So, if I read this write, the Microsoft party line is something along the lines of "our product is harder to develop for and uses our awesome new semistandard programming language and is, y'know, generally a shoddier and touchier product, but on the other hand, no other bugger wants to do it, and you get the benefit of making it much more difficult for the folks at home to exercise any meaningful control over their web browsing experience, or, for that matter, the virii that are already installed." Wow, where do I sign up for that?

    Where did this come from? I realize that being an evangelist for Microsoft is sort of like being an evangelist for cancer ("the chemo helps you lose weight!"), but I have a slight suspicion that Mr. Allen may be being quoted a little out of context here.

  16. charlie wallace

    Nobody uses C++ anymore ?

    I still haven't gotten over the nobody uses assembler, C, now we're not using C++ ? I'm still on C+

    What language will nobody be using next, hopefully Java, that almost happened but then google f'd it up and restarted it.

  17. Stephen Sherry

    Someone call MS a waaaaambulance!

    Oh to be the victim of their own crappy coding they even admit it, that after so many years of "making programming easier" it's hard to program for IE. They might want to cut their suggested market share closer to 60-65%, since most of us (weirdos) only use it when we update windows :P

    How do you know if your addon has security problems? It's written for IE! Harr-harr!

  18. Frank Thomas


    there is one reason this non-mainstream user will not use IE. no NoScript. That's a deal breaker for me.

  19. Mark Monaghan


    >MS has a language called C-hash? How appropriate...

    I believe the 'h' is silent.

  20. Anonymous Coward



  21. Anonymous Coward

    I can hammer nails through my testicles if I so wished.

    it's hard, and painful, and so why would I want to do it ?

    just about sums up why would I want to develop plugins for internet exploder.

  22. Tom
    Gates Horns

    Just what IE needs...

    More toolbars :)

    "Firefox users are more likely to "mess" with your business model. "

    True if your business model is to install keyloggers and empty other peoples bank accounts. :p

  23. Andrew Moore

    Fuck off...

    I'm still a C++ developer and proud of it.

    And not touching IE with a shitty bargepole

  24. Francis Vaughan


    But clearly the most wanted add-on for IE is AdBlock. About now the entire argument vanishes up its own fundament.

    AdBlock is closely followed by NoScript and Flash blocking in desirability. The lack of these on any browser is a deal breaker as far as I'm concerned.

    I seem the have spent a large part of the last month writing Python that writes C++ and assember. I have no idea what this means.

  25. frymaster

    @1st AC

    "So, if I read this write, the Microsoft party line"

    Yes, absolutely. Anything a microsoft person says, at any time, in public, must obviously be official policy mandated at the highest level. Microsoft employees are not permitted to have indepentant thought and, therefore, can't hold opinions.

  26. Moss Icely Spaceport

    No title required for Firefox users

    "And he pointed out that Firefox users are more likely to "mess" with your business model. "They tend to install things like ad blockers, whereas the Internet Explorer user is more mainstream."


    Here be the problem for the crap-ware makers.

  27. Pierre
    Gates Horns


    "Yes, absolutely. Anything a microsoft person says, at any time, in public, must obviously be official policy mandated at the highest level. Microsoft employees are not permitted to have indepentant thought and, therefore, can't hold opinions."

    Wait, are you suggesting that MS employees are /persons/?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    And when...

    ... ISP's finally realise that they will have to charge by the Gb downloaded, adblockers etc will become a 'must have' for IE.

    Hopefully all such add-ons will come with free 'disruptors' for the phorm - nebuad - frontporch axis.

    Billy is giving us a hint, Gawd bless 'im.

  29. David
    Gates Horns

    No way

    Why waste our time with IE?. Microsoft should do that themselves.

    Firefox is for the people and is open. IE is a proprietary bunch of slow bloat from the 90s.

  30. Trix
    Gates Horns

    IE7 Adblocker

    IE7Pro has been mentioned - and yes, it blocks ads, very nicely. As for making IE "just as good" as Opera/FF, think again. It blocks ads and (optionally) flash well, and recovers the last tab session. That's about it.

  31. Heli Kinnunen


    "They tend to install things like ad blockers"

    Why do they say it like it is a bad thing?

    Most of the websites I browse are either in USA or outside of my country, and none of the ads offer anything interesting for this Otherplacian.

    That, and pop-ups, excessive flash, sounds that mess up my muzak etc are annoying enough.

  32. Martin Lyne

    The answer

    to the question is "so you can test it without fear of normal users using it"

    IE should die.

  33. Kevin Bailey
    IT Angle


    He's saying our stuff is shite - but that means no-one else will use it.

    I've got news - good programmers want to enjoy their work - not enter a WOP just to try to sort someone elses crap. It's not all about the money.

    If he was saying - our stuff is crap and we're trying to fix it I could understand - but trying to say being crap is an actual benefit is spin of the highest order.

    He is not an evangelist - just a marketing tool on an acid/PCP mixture.

    MS is seriously starting to lose the plot if this is their message these days.

  34. Paul McConkey
    Gates Horns

    Still on C here...

    'That's horrible. No one programs in C++ anymore,'

    Eh? No wonder there's so much bloat then, it'll be all those script kiddies using string variables in Chas (thanks Finnbar) to do floating point arithmetic.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    A few dev plugins I use for IE6...

    As a web developer I have these plugins installed that help a lot with the day-to-day pain of making sites work in IE6 & IE7:

    IE7Pro (works on IE6 too) -- has ad blocking built in and is extensible with user-submitted scripts []

    Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar []

    Debug Bar []

    Firebug Lite -- I haven't tried this but I've heard it helps some people a bit []

    There are more IE Developer plugins here recommended by MS []

  36. Jos


    I believe the consensus on this is that C# is supposed to refer to the musical note...:-s

    C-Sharp (as in See Sharp).


  37. Kanhef
    Paris Hilton

    re: ad blockers & business models

    If you have a /really/ good business model, you won't have popup ads that users want to block, and behave gracefully if javascript is disabled. Not that hard, is it?

  38. Nebulo
    Thumb Down

    "Market" share?

    IE doesn't participate in any "market". It's nailed into, and pretends to be a part of, an OS whose perpetrators are famous for locking PC retailers out of competing OSs and software with their T&Cs. It's not "marketed", which implies a measure of choice by the end user, it's there anyhow, by default.

    If anything, it's much more telling how many of us actually go out of our way to install a better browser rather than taking the easy option. Why waste time writing plugins for IE when people are going to go off and use a browser which already has loads of 'em?

  39. Anonymous Coward

    @Finnbar re @Mark

    Cash - the first h is silent...

  40. Dr. Mouse

    No one programs in C++ anymore


    C++ is a REAL programming language, like C and Assembler. There may be more real programming languages, but in my book if you cant use one of these 3 you are not a real programmer*.

    The problem is, many 'script kiddies' consider themselves programmers (and I classify VB, Java and Python to be scripting languages, not programming languages), and there are so many of these who call themselves programmers that the oppinion has become mainstream.

    *Do not flame me for this, if you know of another let me know. I know that I tend to have more extreme definitions of things than most people, but I like my definitions to be accurate. Like my definition of friend - drinking buddies, online chat buddies, aquaintances... all these most ppl would call friends, I dont.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Chris Ovenden

    theres plenty of addons for ie, its just most of them load invisibly and sit there waiting for you to log into some financial ite so they can copy your login details...

    "real" addons on the other hand seem to be limited to a handful of toolbars and the yahoo messenger button

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Heard of IE7Pro?

    "It is EASILY the best add-on for IE ; making it nearly as good as FF/Opera"

    I absolutely love the fact that anyone could get excited about an add-on which makes the product "nearly as good" as its rivals.


    Thumb Down

    Recipe for a disaster.

    Cock up your IE add on, and you risk destabilising other applications layered on top of IE, and even components of the operating system itself like Explorer.

    And that's just the risk posed by the well intentioned add-ons you can 'trust'.

    IE is effectively technically completely obsolete. It needs dumping and rewriting with careful thought given to security and stability, especially where add ons are concerned.


  44. Rob Davis

    @Dr. Mouse

    I'm not interested in calling myself a programmer, rather someone who makes things that work.

    And I've worked with all of these extensively: ARM Assembler, C, C++ and Java.

  45. stizzleswick

    In order to enhance MS Internet Exploder... would have to completely rewrite from the ground up.

    Thankfully, the Mozilla developers have already done that...

    Mine has the fire-breathing lizard on the back, thank you...

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    As usual... M$ just doesn't get it...

    Sorry M$, I don’t want to be a demographic, I don’t want to be a statistic, I don’t want scripts executing on my machine that I’m not familiar with, what they do, what data they harvest, or where they send that data to.

    On all my personally owned equipment, I NEVER run IE as every version has getting exponentially more bloated than its previous version, which translates into slower and certainly much more annoying idiosyncrasies. I prefer FF because of the contributing development community AND has much more in terms of control.

    I chose Paris because even she has a clue as to why MS browsers still suck

  47. Simon B

    IE is so bad Joshua Allen has to make up laughable crap

    "With Firefox, you've got this more enthusiast audience, more of a controlled test bed. It's a good place to try out ideas before porting them to Internet Explorer,"

    -Joshua Allen

    PMSL ROFL!!! What a moron, best joke I've seen in ages! Read between the lines is IE is crap, getting crapper and it's fast loosing favour as it's so far behind firefox. Let's make firefox out as a startup little thing that's good only for experimenting with. Get real you muppet.

  48. Bobby

    @Dr. Mouse

    You don't have any friends do you, Dr. Mouse ?

  49. Richard

    Wrong on so many levels

    The big one first:

    "No-one uses C++ anymore" -- Except Microsoft, to uh, write Windows in. Linux (you know that pesky platform that more people are using for a web server than IIS? Remember.. in front of every Exchange server is a linux box running sendmail to deal with Exchange's inadequacies) is compiled in C! Many X apps in Linux are written in C++ too. We'll chalk this one down to "arse? mouth? same thing when you're talking aren't they?".

    The whole idea of porting extensions to IE. The problem is, IE is about as friendly to modifications as the Lisbon Treaty. Almost every extension for IE I've seen has involved some sort of hackish approach to get IE to do what they want. If MS wants extension compatibility, why don't they just develop a compatibility layout that allows existiing Firefox extensions to work?

    Lastly lets compare models when it comes to operating security:

    Firefox: We will (flaws excepted) not allow an extension to dick about with your system. It is sandboxed.

    IE: We will allow an extension to do as it pleases, but just pop up a wee dialog first to say "you want this, right?".

    I'll have what they're smoking.

    -- Richard

  50. Marvin the Martian


    <<IE is effectively technically completely obsolete. It needs dumping and rewriting with careful thought given to security and stability, especially where add ons are concerned.>>

    Yes. Volunteers plus some corporations have already done this. It's called Firefox.

    Actually, it's not just the IE layer to be redone (as you point out, the OS partly runs on the browser that runs on the OS) --- this has also been done by now, it's called Ubuntu. There's a very-limited-functionality emulator (Wine) but your office needs are brilliantly served as are your computing needs. Yet specialty soft and games are a dealbreaker.

    But more seriously, why is there a need for IE7 or IE8? If FF and Opera work, they work. Why does it have to be rewritten? To support badly-written sites [try submitting a CV to Adecco with a mac or linux; even pc+FF fail]?

    Lotus notes died, let it be dead; WordPerfect joined the dinos; heck the dinos themselves can stay where they are, underground.

  51. Anonymous Coward


    Serves you right M$, you lock-in is now looking like lock-out for you muppets. Who in their right mind uses IE anyway ?

  52. Dave


    No, it's definetely a _hash_ .

  53. Roger Jenkins

    @Jos Dave etc

    It's hatch as in cross hatch. Not hash at all.

  54. zenkaon

    @Dr. Mouse

    C++ Is alive and kicking and IMO really rather good. I would add fortran to Dr. mouse's list of REAL programming languages, which I spent most of yesterday using.

    Why would I ever ever use IE??? Can't think of any reasons.

  55. Paul McConkey

    @ zenkaon

    "Why would I ever ever use IE???"

    To visit so that you could download firefox onto your new Windows box?

  56. Ed

    @Dr. Mouse

    There are many real programming languages not on your list. This is not surprising, as computer language preference tends to be a personal thing - most of us prefer a language that works the way we think. Lisp, Forth, ML, and Scheme are all, from everything I've seen of them, very solid, real programming languages. The trouble with them is they work very differently from how I, you, and many other people think. But for those who do think like that, they're perfectly fine.

    There are at least thousands of programming languages which are in use today, and probably tens of thousands. I've only personally encountered around a hundred enough to have any real opinion of them. Statistically speaking, there's probably at least another 10 real programming languages that I haven't encountered.

    For what it's worth, there's even a Pearl programming language (not to be confused with the Perl language I write most of my stuff in. Note that I'm not advocating Perl as a real programming language, as I'm fully aware it has some design flaws. Only thing is, it really does work the way my mind does, so its insanity is a good fit for mine.)

  57. Joshua Allen [msft]

    Writing Cross-Browser Extensions is Tough

    Note that Cade is reporting purely on the session for porting addons from Firefox to IE. We gave another session on extending IE using some of the incredibly easy extensibility mechanisms like Slices, Accelerators and Visual Search.

    The goal of my talk was to cover what you need to do in IE if you want to have common functionality across Firefox -- I committed to the audience to stay away from any functionality that wasn't commonly achievable in both browsers. The other session was about extending IE8 without worrying about Firefox compat; and that is obviously very easy.

    My message was that it makes your work harder in *both* Firefox and IE if you want to go cross-browser -- you lose things like XUL UI elements, and you have to use C++ in IE to get XUL equivalents. But it's worth it to target *both* browsers, IMO, since the whole point of the web is universal interop.

  58. N

    Indeed, why would you use IE?

    I agree with Paul McC, the only point of IE is to find FireFox, I just type start, run

    Or if I load the run files from my pen drive which is a hard drive busting 7Mb or it may be more now, then let it update itself with the latest few Kbs of bandwidth hogging updates, It removes the requirement for IE altogether.

    Im stuck for a reason to use IE other than neccessity, for Windows crapdates.

  59. druck Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    @Joshua Allen

    "since the whole point of the web is universal interop"

    I see the words, but the actions say something completely different. There isn't even "universal interop" with 100% end to end Microsoft. Even skipping over the blatant sins of IE5,6 & 7, the lastest IE8 shows that Microsoft still just doesn't understand web standards, see

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