Tag Archives | Internet Explorer

Inside Internet Explorer 8 Privacy

The Wall Street Journal’s privacy series (call it “Cookiegate”) continues with a fascinating look at Internet Explorer 8. According to reporter Nick Wingfield, IE’s designers initially wanted anti-third-party-cookie settings to be the default, but Microsoft executives involved in online advertising smashed that notion.

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Microsoft Discovers, Belatedly, That Vomiting May Offend Customers

Oh My God I'm Going to PukeThe Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft has pulled the online ad for Internet Explorer that showed a woman puking after viewing her husband’s apparently-disgustingly-pornographic browser history. The Journal quotes a Microsoft spokeswoman as saying that “While much of the feedback to this particular piece of creative was positive, some of our customers found it offensive, so we have removed it.” People offended by a browser commercial involving onscreen vomiting? Imagine that!

Me, I nominated the ad as a strong candidate for the honor of being the worst tech commercial in history. Lots of folks agreed with me; many said they liked it. It would be a boring world if everybody agreed on this stuff.

I assume Microsoft had an inkling that some people might feel…well, queasy…at the sight of the ad before it gave the spot the OK, and decided to run it anyhow. It’s certainly possible to do effective advertising that evokes strong reactions and doesn’t appeal to everybody. But maybe one of the lessons here is that it’s not a great idea to do so for a product with a customer base as huge and diffuse as the world’s most widely-used Web browser. Some products have the luxury of offending people they weren’t trying to cater to in the first place, but IE, by definition, is trying to cater to most everybody. (There’s a reason why you don’t see people retching in ads for, say, gasoline. Or paper towels.)

Of course, conspiracy theorists may wonder whether Microsoft’s game plan all along was to release a revolting ad that appealed to some people, get (ahem) bloggers to write about it, catch flack for it, and then withdraw it…

One more thought on why I didn’t like the ad, and then I promise I’ll stop: I’m not instinctively opposed to gross humor. I might have even liked the basic idea if it had been a scene in a well-directed, funny movie. (Hey, I’m a Monty Python fan.) But as a consumer, I regard advertising as a company attempting to initiate a business transaction with me. And so I react better to ads with a certain level of decorum and respect than ones that try to gross me out. (The bar isn’t that high–some people seem more creeped out by the other, vomitless ads in the series than I was.)

That’s just me; multiple reasonable commenters feel otherwise. But it’s fascinating to see how Microsoft had to get real-world feedback before they figured all this out.

[UPDATE: Peter Kafka of All Things D reports that the IE 8 ads were directed by Bobcat “Shakes the Clown” Goldthwait. That explains a lot right there…]


Google Makes Chrome Speed Boost Boast. Who’s Next?

chromelogo5Google is boasting that an update to Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine and Webkit browsing component has yielded a significant improvement in performance. Yippee. Now, who’s next?

The renewed browser war resembles more of a game of leapfrog than the big-bang releases of the 1990’s when one version of Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator could change the balance of power in the browser wars overnight. Google says that Chrome is now 30% faster with today’s upgrade. That matches a performance claim made by Opera in about its new “Presto” rendering engine.

Two months ago, the Mozilla Foundation was bragging about how much snappier Firefox 3.5 will be over its predecessor. Apple, and many recent benchmarks conclude that Safari 4 is the title holder of ‘world’s fastest browser,’ and Microsoft has introduced Internet Explorer 8 by performing benchmarks of its own.

Irrespective of how many fewer milliseconds one of these browsers might take to render JavaScript, they are all getting better, in terms of standards support and performance. The real world implication is that each browser runs AJAX Web apps better than they did a year ago, and pages are being rendered with greater consistency.

Many of them have already have adopted parts of the upcoming HTML 5 specification–the lingua franca of the Web–even though it is far from being finalized. The working group responsible for it is open to breaking it up into smaller pieces.

For the first time in years, there is major innovation happening in the browsers due to increased competition. Opera has longo liked to play the role of innovator; now it’s matching wits against Apple and Google. Mozilla Firefox, the first browser to dent Microsoft’s seemingly immovable market share, is not longer the cock of the walk.

Not too long ago, it seemed as if browsers were maturing. All I can say, is that this latest round of competition is a very good thing for people who use (and create) Web apps, and those who care about standards.

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Hijacking a User’s Default Browser is Never Acceptable. Repeat, Never.

The standard “Express” installation of the Windows 7 RC does something I thought software had stopped doing years ago:

If you upgrade from a previous version of Windows, and choose the “Express” option when installing, your default browser will be changed to Internet Explorer. Needless to say, this behavior has immediately sparked complaints from Mozilla and Opera, and rightfully so, because it’s shady at the very least.

This sounds so cheesy that I wonder if it’s a unwitting gaffe by Microsoft rather than an intentional ploy. Can we all agree that this needs to be changed for the final version of the OS?


IE 8.1 Leaks, Microsoft Cozies Up to Firefox

Internet Explorer Logo[UPDATE FROM HARRY: Smashing Magazine–which I like–has a wacky sense of humor. And maybe it’s April Fools Day where it is, or close enough.]

Builds of IE 8.1 have leaked out into the wild, and while it is not going to be a release that users will notice much difference visually, underneath the hood significant changes have been made which will enhance the user experience.

Security is a big focus with this point release. The SmartScreen and Cross-site scripting filters are improved greatly. Whereas IE 8 successfully caught on average 75% of all occurences of malware and phishing, IE 8.1 has increased that to 96%.

The browser also adheres to web standards better than its predecessor, scoring a 71 out of 100 in the Acid3 test. For what its worth, my Firefox 3 browser on Mac also scores a 71 out of 100. So the two browsers appear now to be at parity.

JavaScript has been improved, and will load faster. In addition, a user will be able to select multiple browser engines from which to render pages from, which would be useful to not only the developer but the user as well when a page seems to not work correctly.

Other features include functionality that allows the user to replace a sites CSS style sheet with a custom one for better readability, and a server-side code decompiler. As you can see, quite a bit for both the developer and consumer to show on.

However, probably the most exciting new feature in IE 8.1 is the support for Firefox Extensions. Yep, you heard that right. While Microsoft warns that not all plugins will work, many do so flawlessly. This is definitely a shot across the bow of Mozilla, and it will be interesting to see how they respond.

(Hat tip: Smashing Magazine)


IE Users Seem to be Returning to the Familiar

Internet Explorer LogoWith the launch of IE8 on Thursday, a fairly decent chunk of the Web surfing populace at least tried out Microsoft’s latest and greatest. However, it appears many have made the decision to downgrade to IE7. While IE8 reached a high of 2.6% over the weekend, it has since fallen nearly a half a percentage point, says Net Applications.

This drop could be explained by curious surfers opting to return to the previous version. It would not be entirely out of the question — IE8’s new features may be a bit too much for some to take the time to get used to, and some users have reported issues in rendering certain websites properly, even those created with Microsoft’s own Publisher tool.

As a whole, IE has been struggling in the face of increased competition from Mozilla’s Firefox. It’s share of the market has fallen to about 67%, down 8 points in the past year alone and well off its highs of nearly 90% in the early part of this decade.

In other words, IE8 needs to be a hit. I don’t think anybody — including myself — expected Firefox to have much more than a 15 or 20 percent market share. Well, it passed the 20 percent mark four months ago and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.

Add Apple’s increasing popularity, and the iPhone with it, and who would have expected Safari to have an 8 percent market share either?


5Words for March 23rd, 2009

5wordsHappy Monday, everybody. Reading material:

Wow, they still make mainframes?

White House sides with RIAA.

Hulu adds 10 million viewers.

Intel chip flaw is theoretical.

New 17-inch iMac: Old!

The art of laptop stickers.

Samsung unveils 11-hour netbook.

IE 8: Losing users. Already!

Dell cancels phone…buys Palm?

The personal supercomputer is imminent.

September: an Acer Android phone?

Apple caters to business buyers.

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