Why Internet Explorer is so terrible

Latest news on killing off IE 6

Microsoft says it’s time to go!

Microsoft supports the campaign to rid the world of Internet Explorer 6. Read Microsoft Supports the War against IE6

Major Norwegian Web Sites Urge Users to Switch

The most popular web sites in Norway are now urging their users to switch out of Internet Explorer 6. Read more here and here .

The campaign is rapidly spreading as web-developers everywhere rise up against the oppression of having to develop websites for this pile of elephant poo. The goal is to push the percentage of IE6 users so low that people don’t have to waste time developing websites to handle its many quirks and bugs.

Why the fuss?

Microsoft is the largest software company on Earth, and yet it can’t put together a proper web browser. Other companies do a much better job. Here are a few reasons why you should switch if you can.

It’s not secure

If you follow the techie news you’ll notice that there’s a continual stream of stories along the lines of “Security flaw found in Microsoft Internet Explorer” and they generally finish with “Other web browsers are not affected”. Here’s a few ;-

It can’t do the basic stuff properly

If it were a good web browser then it would be excusable to keep using it in spite of its security flaws. But it’s not even a good web browser.

The problem is that in the early days Microsoft chose not to follow the agreed standards laid down for writing web browsers. Either they didn’t read the specifications or they assumed that they were so big they didn’t need to follow the agreed rules. So they went off on a tangent assuming they could do what they liked. They added things to beef up their browser that no one else had, and they left out things that were written down in the standards which other browsers did have. The idea seems to have been to lock people into their proprietary system as part of secret plans for world domination.

But the web standards were developed by very clever people and Microsoft wasn’t that clever. The result is that Internet Explorer is built with lots of wacky additions that few people ever use except to exploit the security flaws they add to the party, and it has trouble doing the basic job of reading a stream of characters from a web sever and displaying the result on the screen the way the web page author intended.

If you have a few minutes to spare and fancy a chuckle here’s a discussion between the team leader of the Microsoft Internet Explorer group and some web developers, web developers lay into Microsoft over its crappy browsers and In all fairness .. Internet Explorer still stinks

There’s even a calculation web-developers can use to judge how much effort and time to put into supporting IE6 read it here .

Web designers everywhere tear their hair out trying to get Internet Explorer to do simple things that other web standards compliant web browsers can do without breaking sweat. I’ll quote from the above article written for web-developers

There’s a sensation that I’m sure you’re familiar with. It’s a horrible mixture of dread and nervousness. It’s the feeling you get when—after working on a design for a while in a standards-compliant browser like Firefox, Safari or Opera—you decide that you can no longer put off the inevitable moment when you must check the site in IE6. Fingers are crossed, prayers are muttered, but alas, to no avail. The nemesis browser invariably screws something up.

I’ve even seen web design jobs advertised “It’s OK you’ll not be required to support IE 6”. It really is that bad. IE 6 is a complete dog’s breakfast that ignores the rules for laying out web pages and is famously a pain. IE 7 is better, but not by much. Here’s an example of how our home page looks in standards compliant browsers.

As you can see the text flows around the ragged edges of the image of the mango drink quite nicely because the image has been sliced into lots of little images.

Here’s what it would look like in Internet Explorer if I hadn’t hidden the images from it.

As you can see the image of the mango drink is a complete disaster.

The problem is that IE puts a line break after every image, which isn’t part of the web standards, it’s just some loopy idea that someone at Microsoft decided to throw in. Because it’s not part of the web standards to put a line break after an image every standards compliant browser displays the image properly.

There are whole web sites devoted to the various tricks web designers have to learn to get IE to behave. But life is too short to spend days trying to get IE to do things properly so I’ve just hidden the image from all versions of Internet Explorer. You’ll only see it if you’re using a proper browser.

There are lots of cases like this dotted around this web site. The menus at the top of this page work perfectly in every other browser but IE has to be tweaked and molly-coddled to get them to display properly and IE still does it wrong if you squeeze the page width so the menus wrap around.

I give up. In some cases I’ve compromised by accepting a less elegant display for all browsers simply because IE can’t handle it. Things could look much prettier if I didn’t have to support Internet Explorer.

So here’s some advice.

If you can switch to another browser then do so immediately, and if you can’t because you’re in an organisation that requires you to use Internet Explorer, then argue with your IT department that it’s insecure and they’d be better off with something else.

Here’s a selection of alternatives

They’re all free.

Good luck and happy Web surfing

John Small
Technical Director
Travelgate Ltd

The World


We’ve updated the look of Travelgate to make it look good in modern web standards compliant browsers such as Firefox, Opera, Safari and Google Chrome, but it might not look good in non-standards compliant browsers like Internet Explorer. We recommend switching away from Internet Explorer and you can read why here…

If you’re having any problems with the display then we need to know about it. Let us know about it by going to contact us