February 2014 Update to the “Stop Using Microsoft Internet Explorer Page”

Back when the original page criticising Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE or MSIE) was written, circa 2004, it was an opinionated (but backed by facts) piece that echoed the frustration that people like me felt back then about the fact that supporting the contemporary version of Microsoft Internet Explorer (version 6, I believe) made web design much harder, and required a lot of work, and moreover, many important and/or niche sites did not function properly while using the so-called “alternative browsers” (such as Mozilla Firefox), and did not think it was important to support them. The situation has changed since then and this is how I perceive it to be now:

  1. Back when the page was written (around the year 2004), many web developers wished for the old version of MSIE that were used at the time to go away, and many users of its alternative browsers were frustrated by various sites not supporting their browser well.

    Today, the situation is largely better as MSIE both lost a lot of market share and because Microsoft started maintaining it again and recent versions have improved considerably, and because most sites of significance now support the non-MSIE browsers.

  2. As a result writing HTML 4 or the so-called Web 1.0 with a transition to Web 2.0 code should be possible to do with relatively fewer hassles. This is as long as one is conscious of web standards, and their support by the various browsers (see the QuirksMode.org site for example), and that he/she makes use of some portable tried and tested libraries and APIs such as jQuery , and keep their site as simple as possible (in exchange for less features and less "wow factor", and possibly a somewhat bigger bandwidth).

  3. On the other hand, the collective ecosystem of technologies that falls under the umbrella of HTML 5 is constantly expanding and getting more and more featureful and more complicated with many APIs, abstraction layers (abstractions are often bad enough, but in the HTML 5 world they are also often leaky ones) levels of indirections, new features, and new buzzwords. While using some HTML 5 features in isolation and when the need arises, can be done relatively sanely, keeping up to date with all the new features and technologies (or what people call “neophilia”) is from my impression incredibly time consuming and possibly will expose your code to present and future incompatibilities and errors.

  4. I should note that while in some of my jobs, I've been employed as a mostly server-side web programmer, and have published quite a lot of text on web sites, I cannot in a honest face call myself a professional web developer. Please do not assume that is the case for me, and I am a developer of primarily other kinds of user-interface (including command-line applications, GUI applications, and Application programming interfaces (APIs)) as well a user of them, and as someone who plays other roles such as a helper or advocate. This is while I appreciate the utility of the World Wide Web, and constantly use it.

  5. It is possible that MSIE has improved enough to make it usable and attractive enough to be used. As I agreed with the E-mail correspondent who reported the incident, many people now have enough prejudice against Microsoft, to assume every product they make is inferior to some of the competition from hipper companies or projects, and that it lacks innovation, even if that is not necessarily the case.

    Nevertheless, Internet Explorer is still not open source, and upgrading to newer versions often require a recent major version of Microsoft Windows (e.g: Windows 7 or even Windows 8), and naturally will only run on Microsoft Windows systems. As a result, I wouldn't recommend using it by default, even if you want or need to use Microsoft Windows.

    There are many reasons why in the past decades, a lot of non-open-source software applications have been discontinued, stopped working, or stopped being maintained, leaving their users either helpless, or needing to seek a different alternative. On the other hand, with an open source application, one can always continue maintaining the last release, or even fork it.