back to article Microsoft: Old Internet Explorer is terrible and 'we want to help'

As every web developer knows, one of the biggest headaches of building modern, standards-compliant web pages is getting them to look and work right in Internet Explorer. Well, coders, apparently Microsoft feels your pain, because it has released a new set of free tools to help you do just that. The tools, collectively dubbed …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. edge_e

    Just don't

    The sooner it's rendered obsolete the better.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Just don't

      Exactly. And if MS was really saying old MS6 is terrible, surely they'd not include it in their range of tests. It's almost like they are harping back to the days of "do X for this browser, Y for this browser, and Z for this browser" etc,

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Just don't

        MS have been campaigning for ages to get everyone to stop using IE6, and even IE7. The difference is that they don't act like a petulant child and force you to use newer versions in the same way many sites and tech-stacks (Google, Wordpress) do.

        Don't let the facts get in the way of a good anti-MS rant though, Sorry, M$ I mean.

        1. Christian Berger

          Re: Just don't

          Well that wouldn't be a problem if they:

          a) allowed you to update your browser independently of your operating system (not everyone wants to 'upgrade' to Windows XP or Vista)

          b) allowed you to install multiple versions of the browser so you could use one for your old broken internal software and one for actual browsing

          1. JDX Gold badge

            @Christian Berger

            I can agree with b) although technically I see why it is a problem to achieve and not worth the hassle with 3rd party solutions (IE6 tab, VMs available.

            But there are solid technical reasons why some versions of IE only run on certain versions of Windows. The extra work it would have taken (for a purpose they don't really value) is evident if you follow the mozilla mailing lists when those things are discussed for FF.

          2. Euripides Pants

            Re: Just don't

            "allowed you to update your browser independently of your operating system"

            If you really feel "stuck" with IE6 because downgrading to a newer Microsoft operating system is not your cup o' tea, all I have to say is...






            And learn to change your user agent string.

        2. Aramando

          Re: Just don't

          @JDX - what's petulant about being unwilling to devote masses of development time to making your modern web app work in an ancient browser that not many people still use?

        3. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          @JDX Re: Just don't

          The only one writing "M$" is you, dear.

    2. Kubla Cant
      Thumb Down

      Re: Just don't

      It's no good saying "The sooner it's rendered obsolete the better". We all know that, but if a significant number of the people you want to use your site are likely to be using old browsers, you can't go round to their houses and make them upgrade. Developers who create public web sites have to assess the cost of not being compatible with old IE versions against the cost of coding for compatibility.

  2. asdf

    time to troll

    Before the posts come. Yes yes Opera folks we know your browser is 1337 and best of all with its rounding error of market share it may well be the safest browser. Why target an audience smaller than the number of people who actively use Google Plus?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: time to troll

      Judging by the number of thumbs down, I am the only one who thinks that the irony and sarcasm of these forums is being lost?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: time to troll

        " I am the only one who thinks that the irony and sarcasm of these forums is being lost?"

        If the intent was to use irony or sarcasm, it lost both in the translation to the screen, as is often the case. Just came off as a snarky comment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: time to troll

          Are you kidding? Pissing off in such a few lines both Opera and Google+ users at the same time in a completely unrelated subject? That has some merit, beyond the snarkyness itself which is a hallmark of this site. Perhaps the irony is being lost as the Reg user base expands?

          Just realized that the new Reg comment scoring system should reward all kind of users, not only the ones that manage to get a high upvote, but also the ones that get a high downvote, and also those that get both kind of votes. Either that or I'll create an account whose objective will be to top the downvotes chart....

          1. Christos Georgiou

            Re: time to troll

            Pissing off in such a few lines both Opera and Google+ users at the same time

            You mean Sam and George? Use their names, it's ok. They both don't mind.

  3. Captain DaFt

    What I got out of this article

    Microsoft is saying, "See? We can be web friendly, so start tweaking those sites to look good and run on TIFKAM, OK?"

    1. Greg J Preece

      Re: What I got out of this article

      How dare those bastards include an optional extra that adds functionality to your site and doesn't break it for anyone else? SCUMBAGS, I say!

  4. dssf

    "You have to sign in with your facebook account to activate the trial."?

    Say WHAT? INT WTF?

    How long before they and otherrs bribe government to coerce banks and credit unions to coerce people to sign up with "their facebook accounts"? Suppose they don't "hav" one, or refuse to use it? This is insidious and odious. WTF happened with the registration of dev apps via a direct tool of the dev, not a social site?'

    I guess devs will have to create a dev account that is strictly business, not connected to personal.

    Soon, ms will be deluged with, "Do you know a developer named "Basterdx"? We think you do. Would you like to upgrade your Sleuth account to see more information of "Basterdx"? Like us too!

    1. Pie

      Re: "You have to sign in with your facebook account to activate the trial."?

      You only need a facebook account to activate the free browserstack cross browser trial, not to use the rest of the site.

    2. Displacement Activity

      @dssf: Re: "You have to sign in with your facebook account to activate the trial."?

      Don't worry about it. I had to sign up to get support from Samsung (they very cleverly used FB's "technology" to avoid providing support, while making you think that your posts were visible and being read).

      Anyway, after calming down, I signed up with the name of a well-known cartoon character, after some slight modification, to get it past their checkers. FB now sends me occasional mails telling me about people on the other side of the world who also went to "The University of Life". They think I'm really stupid, and it's great. I use it for logging onto other sites, and I get counted as an "active user", and I've done my own little bit to screw FB. I think I may go and click on some ads when I get bored.

      1. Woodgar

        Re: Create A Fake Account

        Whilst obviously good advice to create a fake account just for the purpose of signing up to these schemes, in the same way many of us use throwaway email accounts for a similar purpose, doing so only increases the likelihood of this type of sign-up method becoming more and more prominent.

        Better to ignore them, or maybe even better to let them know why you're *not* going to be signing up, rather than inflating their usage statistics.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Re-inventing the wheel again ?

    Microsoft has developed and maintained a website design environment called Expression Web for quite some time now. It basically allows you to administer several websites and creates a separation between coding (whether that's in HTML, Javascript, CSS, etc..) or a crude form of 'wysiwyg'; it allows to drag and drop components from a palet right into the code window or webpage preview.

    One of the reasons their version 4 product immediately appealed to me was because of the "Expression Web SuperPreview" program. It sounds grand, but in a way it also is IMVHO; because this program allows you to use the browser engine of several available browsers and render the page you're making using that engine.

    Better yet: it can render a page using multiple engines and show the preview side by side, even indicating where the pages differ wrt. the placement of several components.

    By default it obviously supports several Explorer engines (MSIE 6 up to 9, even the compatibility view in 8 is supported), but it can also utilize the Mozilla engine (not sure about modern Firefox browsers, I stopped using FF around version 4, so version 3.6 is all I can mention as example) and it even utilizes Safari for Windows if you want to.

    There is also an online service to provide support for more browsers, though I never bothered to test that.

    Now, the reason I'm going "reinventing the wheel" is because Expression Web has recently been EOL'd. You can now download it for free (which includes this preview program) and the reason Microsoft gave is that it has focussed its attention on Visual Studio 2012 which should basically supersede Expression Web 4 and provide all its functionality.

    Obvious question: If Visual Studio "supersedes" Expression Web then why do we need a separate tool for this when this functionality is basically part of Expression Web ?

    There are many features in Expression Web which you won't find in VS 2012, that's for sure. For starters; I've become very fond of my "site manager" where I can basically point Expression Web to several websites after which it can make sure my local contents is synchronized with the remote site (either using FTP, FTPS or other means).

    SO, I get the feeling that Microsoft is at its best here: they had a very decent tool, threw it away and are now re-inventing what they already had.

    1. Wibble

      Re: Re-inventing the wheel again ?

      And before Expression Web there was FrontPage. That sucked too.

      1. Jordan Davenport

        Re: Re-inventing the wheel again ?

        FrontPage sucked, sure, but Expression Web actually mostly produced fairly readable and standards-compliant code.

  6. Lars Silver badge


    We used to use Opera to reveal some of the shit.

  7. Tom 35

    Ha Ha Ha... bite me!

    "adding Windows 8 Start Screen tiles to sites so they're easier to navigate"

    1. LinkOfHyrule

      Re: Ha Ha Ha... bite me!

      Windows 8 tiles are everwhere these days!

      I even saw them in someone's kitchen!! They'd gone for that oh so funky late 90s multicoloured silly pattern type vibe that Windows 8 does too - only the tiles were slightly rounded in the corners unlike Win8 with its "trying to make lazy design cool by making everything flatter than a roadkill hedgehog" motif!

      I must admit though, I just wanted to touch the heck out of that kitchen wall, MS are really on to something here, I just had a desperate urge to stroke those tiles senseless! So Win8 gets the finger up from me you could say! I think it will revolutionise the way we think about inputting stuff into computers and domestic kitchen design for weeks to come!

    2. dogged

      Re: Ha Ha Ha... bite me!

      To be fair, they're finger-friendly. I tried logging into my bank's website on my phone the other day which (what with endless drop-boxes and links in every form directing away to different forms) could use a tool like this.

  8. LinkOfHyrule
    Paris Hilton

    The Microsoft Way™

    WTF is that? Sounds like the name of some naff self-help personal training and life coaching solution sold via a late night infomercial!

    You CAN suceed when you do it The Microsoft Way™! Call now and all this can be yours on ten audio cassettes for only £199 plus shipping and handling! Call now and and start living your life The Microsoft Way!!!!


    1. frank ly

      Re: self-help The Microsoft Way™

      Admitting that you have a problem is the first step. We should listen to them.

  9. David Gosnell


    The instant scanner's a load of pants. I have just tested it against one of my sites that I know for a fact has elements IE6 bodges rendering through not supporting at all, and there's not a glimmer of a warning. As others have suggested, everything seems to be about getting it looking right on mobile devices (which it already does, TYVM) and Windows 8.

  10. Silverburn

    New tools help web devs find problem spots

    oh? Is one of them a full uninstaller for IE?

    1. Kubla Cant

      Re: New tools help web devs find problem spots

      Oh? And once web devs have uninstalled IE, how exactly are they going to make the customers who use their sites use the full uninstaller for IE?

      Developers don't target IE because they endorse it as a browser, but because they don't want to exclude people from their user base.

  11. ForthIsNotDead


    " it also offers a friendly suggestion that devs make sure to tweak their websites to work the Microsoft Way™ – including replacing Flash with HTML5, making sure pages are touch-friendly, and adding Windows 8 Start Screen tiles to sites so they're easier to navigate to from Microsoft's latest OS."

    Yeah. Good luck with that.

  12. jake Silver badge

    Or, alternatively ...

    Drop all support for anything proprietary from Redmond (or Cupertino, for that matter).

    Three years now, and we're still in the black. Try it. You might like it :-)

    1. Silverburn

      Re: Or, alternatively ...

      Small point of order - doesn't apple's safari run on webkit, like a number of other popular web browsers - most notable being Chrome?

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Or, alternatively ...

      Not going bankrupt because you stopped using proprietary software is the best endorsement you can come up with for FOSS? Great, where do I sign up.

  13. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Of course if they were really that bothered about people with old versions of IE they would release IE 9/10 for XP, Vista and 7

    But from reading other article on the reg it appears Microsoft have deeply embedded IE 10 into the Windows 8 OS and have had difficulty porting it to 7. Do Microsoft never learn that having an browser deeply integrated into the OS is a bad idea?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      IE9 relied on DirectX 10 which is a core component of Windows and not available for XP. The debate is whether DX10 should have been released for XP, not IE9.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        @ JDX

        If what you say is really true then: firstly, it underlines quite how braindead Microsoft's browser strategy has been in the past; secondly, it's another reminder of just how important it was that the European Commission took legal action against Microsoft. Whoever decided to make DirectX 10 a requirement and not an option was a fucking idiot.

  14. g e

    "...older versions of IE continue to be a real challenge for developers "

    They could have just provided the raw un-spin version of that sentence:

    "We're sorry so for ever making that hideous deformed shit, can we pay you for all your time we wasted while we cocked about like numpties with well-known standards?"

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: "...older versions of IE continue to be a real challenge for developers "

      I don't think MS make any pretence about IE6 not being crap.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Internet Exploder....

    Fuck - another tedious rant....

    Years ago, like 10 or more, or was it longer...

    If I went to visit a porn site, Opera, Mozilla, Net something or other, they ALL had pop up blockers....

    Microsoft - the stupid douches, I mean the really fucking stupid people who run that show - they took ANOTHER 6 years before they put that function into Internet Explorer....

    Then when Firefox started getting really good - compared to IE, Microsoft just barefaced copied all their material, had a huge launch about it, how THEY were innovating, how great IE is, "Come join the Community and sign up etc...."

    More fake PR bullshit from the thieves...

    IF Internet Explorer came on a toilet roll, I'd rather use my hand to wipe my arse.

    FAIL - with Linux, I DO NOT HAVE TOO use anything Microsoft.

    1. Prof Denzil Dexter

      Re: Internet Exploder....

      Porn on the internet? First I'd heard of it...

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Internet Exploder....

      >>Fuck - another tedious rant....

      You got that part right if nothing else.

  16. Crisp

    Here's an idea Microsoft.

    How about actually implementing the HTML 5 spec? Other browsers seem to have no trouble with it.

    I'm sick and tired of having to look up every sodding tag to find out if it's supported in IE or not.

  17. Jan Hargreaves

    Honestly.. Chrome is far worse than IE at not following standards. I really cannot fathom why people in the tech community love it so much.

    I build websites for a living, and Firefox, IE, Safari all tend to behave and do what I want. It's ALWAYS &#)(%@$ Chrome that has problems.

    Or maybe it's just me? haha

    1. Crisp

      Are you still laying out your websites with tables?

      1. Silverburn

        Are you still laying out your websites with tables?

        Oh god, I've just realised that I'm officially and completely out of date.

      2. Jan Hargreaves

        No. I have to admit that I was probably later than some other designers, but about 7 years ago I stopped using tables for web layouts. I still use them sometimes for tabled data, and I use them every week for email newsletters (gotta love outlook right?).

    2. Greg J Preece

      THANK YOU! I long since dealt with the IE6 bugs in our site. These days all I ever fix is Chrome bugs. People love it because it's quick, but bloody hellfire that browser is bugged. That's what you get when you try to release three times a week just that you can have the biggest version number.

      1. Crisp

        Congratulations Greg!

        You've fixed bugs for a site viewed in a browser that's 12 years old!

        If people will insist on using ancient hardware and software to access the internet then I've got no bloody sympathy for them.

  18. JDX Gold badge

    Google Chrome – tooting the horn of web standards compliance from the very beginning

    Apart from the fact it is packed full of non-standard stuff. Webkit extensions, Pepper API, NaCl, Gears, ...

  19. Nigel 11

    the logic that's really required?

    If ( browser in standard_compliant_browsers ) then

    do standard_compliant_stuff


    display get_your_standard_compliant_browser_for_free_from_here


    Of course if your business isnvolves selling stuff to morons, that's probably not good enough!

    1. Jess

      Re: the logic that's really required?

      Standards compliant browser you get the full site.

      Non compliant browser or one with javascript disabled get a light html site also suitable for mobiles.

      (With a link for Chromeframe, Chrome and Firefox for XP users.)

  20. PassiveSmoking


    Is "Customer" the right word to describe a user of IE6? I'd say "victim" is a better fit.

  21. Steve Knox
  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. Justice


    They should opt for a subscription model like Office 2013

    The more we use it, the more they pay US.

  24. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    I pity the poor developers

    Firstly, whoever came up with this deserves recognition. I think that Microsoft has finally realised that its only choice at the moment is damage limitation: website developers are seriously fucked off by having to support such completely different rendering engines without the pain of users switching on "compatibility" mode for sites which are standards compliant. Oh, I know there is another flag you can set to stop that, except I there are other workarounds for IE < 9 that you need that disable UA-compatible="IE=Edge". A proper migration path for all current versions of Windows would have made this all unnecessary. But, okay, web developers will accept a certain degree of pain to support paying customers.

    But it's those poor customers who are suffering most as a result of the extremely cynical migration path the Microsoft chose - no one forced them to limit Windows 2000 to IE 6 or XP to IE 8. One of my customers still has a "don't use IE (8) for the internet" because it's still unsafe. It has been considered too much work to migrate to IE 9 and shortly afterwards to IE 10, whenever it becomes available for Windows 7. In the meantime Firefox LSR has been certified and rolled out everywhere (> 100,000 machines). The result is that people have dropped IE for everything except the usual ActiveX infested inhouse "browser" applications and management has been given I-Pads.

    Then there is the site itself with friendly advice like this:

    We've found that you have vendor-specific prefixes causing compatibility problems. This can help minimize compatibility issues in Internet Explorer and other browsers.

    Well, colour me blue and call me Nansen if those two sentences are contradictory. Vendor prefixes are a world a hurt in themselves but using them does not cause compatibility problems because they are, er, vendor specific. Anyway, the site I tested doesn't use any vendor prefixes.

    I suggest the IE team start polishing the CVs as they're going to be needing them.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Something about that video ..

    It's like watching a cross between, "The mentalist" and "CSI: NY", ie 'psychic Patrick Jane' and `Detective Stella Bonasera' ...

    The Web Standards Project

  26. David Strum

    IE is stupid! But Im too lazy to learn Chrome

    Why is Chrome and Opera taking centre stage? IE is a joke! I just can’t understand why, despite MS claims that its better than ever, it’s actually a pain. It crashes – without fail every time I fire it up the first time. I have to force it to shut down, only then will it start to work. I’m too lazy to learn Chrome – I just don’t think limiting XP to IE8 only - is a wise decision. MS YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED!

  27. odditique

    oh the irony

    so ms spends time and resources to create a tool to make your nice w3c compliant site work in their browser rather than just making a browser that works... hmmm. seems like they're loosing their edge. I would have figured by now that they would have already jacked the code for Chrome or Safari and released their own code bloated version named "zing" that crashes every time you scroll. thats what i expect from the king of redmond.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like