Will someone pull out the IE life support machine?

Will someone pull out the IE life support machine?

Summary: For those who don't live in the catchment area of the European Union, you're quite lucky. After spending a year of my academic career in a room for an hour each week with a bunch of highly politicised, fanatical and activist type students, constantly debating the point, need and will of the European Union, I've sided with the lesser opinion.

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For those who don't live in the catchment area of the European Union, you're quite lucky. After spending a year of my academic career in a room for an hour each week with a bunch of highly politicised, fanatical and activist type students, constantly debating the point, need and will of the European Union, I've sided with the lesser opinion.

For the fact that the European Commission "welcomed" (and had absolutely no part in forcing Microsoft to do so) the modular setup of Windows 7, enabling users to pick and choose their browser, but also removes Internet Explorer from all copies of Windows 7 sold in Europe, made my mind up: yes, the EU really is important in some respects.

My good friend Bryant Zadegan made my eyes pop out the sides of my head (everyone knows I'm secretly a giant rabbit in disguise) when he tweeted the other day, annoyed that Firefox was a "bloated sack of crap". Although to some extent I can see his point, considering newer versions of Firefox are built upon previous distributions of the software, but it just does not compare to the bulky, heavyweight champion of the millennium, Internet Explorer.

Internet Explorer is the Guinness of the browser/beer world. Internet Explorer is a stodgy, chunky beefcake which athletes chow down upon before they throw a shot put across a field. Internet Explorer is the fat kid in the corner of the school gym that nobody wants to pick because they'll slow them down, the kid that everybody teases, but still ends up being used "just to make up numbers". Internet Explorer is an embarrassment to the browser world; and quite frankly, we now live in a day and age which as the default, in-built browser into the world's most "popular" (which in itself is a phrase not often associated with Microsoft often) operating system that it feels like it is thrust upon you just as a Kalashnikov would be, in your face, in a poverty stricken post-communistic country.

The one thing that threw me over the edge? Tabs. Because Microsoft were late to the game, with only implementing tabs into Internet Explorer 7, it seems they haven't quite understood how the system works. Firefox, pretty much from the word go, used tabs and the entire engine has supported it. It's like giving someone born with one arm missing a new arm when they're 50, no physiotherapy and expecting them just to "get on with things".

It takes me between 5-12 seconds to load a new tab. I've tried Ed Bott's trick of speeding up Internet Explorer, but if I'm honest, it does bugger all. Registering a new DLL into the system, one which is there already and should be implemented by Internet Explorer, isn't going to change a damn thing - even I know that. Even when it loads about:blank into my new tab, it still crawls to load it. By this time I'm ripping out my hair and screaming at the screen.

Update: seeing as some of you are in a hating mood and decided to find any potential weakness in my opinion back at me, I took liberty in recording opening tabs in Internet Explorer on my machine. Using ScreenToaster, I recorded opening a new tab with the clock in the corner just to show accurate timing. Also this way, I get to upload it straight to YouTube without editing and the watermark reflects this so I cannot tamper with it. It takes approximately 7 seconds in this instance, within my aforementioned timeframe, although I have previously counted longer. I won't bother trying to get it to that state again - believe it or not, I do have a life beyond this office.

Performance. I know people keep going on about performance and quite frankly, it's getting a little tiresome, but it's still a valid point nonetheless. Personally, I'd like to see an application working within one process, so if anything goes wrong - the whole thing closes. But with Firefox's technique of restoring your tabs for you if a crash occurs, this is fine.

Internet Explorer, however, seems to keep multiple processes going just in case there is a crash, as if it is preempting a crash. Firefox has contingency plans in place in case there is a crash, yet Internet Explorer seems to expect it to happen. What sort of guideline is that to go by? "Yeah, it's an unstable application, so let's make sure that it crashes well without actually fixing the problem." Score.

Take a look at this:

Firefox uses 148.4MB in memory on my computer in one process. Internet Explorer, on the other hand, opens multiple processes determined by how many tabs or windows are open, and uses 147.4MB. So even though Firefox uses an extra megabyte in memory, there is an explanation for this.

At the time of the screenshot, Internet Explorer had five tabs open in one window. Firefox had eighteen tabs spread across four windows. It is clear to me that Firefox in this case manages memory far better than Windows' in-built browser.

Microsoft's ego is stretched thinly nowadays and has already taken a massive hit with the European Commission's decision to rip out a "vital" part of Windows 7 and sell it to the masses as a separate product, Windows 7 E. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, as usual, disagrees with me but give him credit, he has been around for a bit longer than me.

On the face of it, Internet Explorer is just another browser, but it's time to stop drip feeding it, it's time to stop replacing its internal organs when one fails, and it's time to wean it off its nasty oxygen habit. Internet Explorer is old, pathetic, tiring to even look at, and depressing. Microsoft, let it die. (Failing that, just do what you did with OneCare: strip it down, funk it up and start all over again.)

Don't boycott Opera, boycott Internet Explorer. Buy Windows 7 E if you can, or if you don't want to or live in a non-European country, please for the love of God, remove Internet Explorer from your Windows 7 machine.

Topics: Windows, Browser, Microsoft

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75 comments
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  • I love FIREFOX

    I think I love FireFox rather than IE even 7.

    FireFox is safer to use.
    jomtham
    • IE Begone?

      I use IE 8 and like it pretty well.
      I also have Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Safari, and Copernic.
      I find I use IE more than the rest.
      I've had problems with pages not displaying properly in Firefox.
      Chrome, while quite nice is still a security concern.
      Opera is like an old cigar smoking uncle, slow to launch, and the UI is a bit dated.
      I haven't used Safari enough to have a real opinion of it.
      That Microsoft includes it's own browser with it's operating systems makes sense to me.
      I have a doubleplus good fast connection, so perhaps I don't experience IE's "slowness".
      IE also does not seen to take up much by way of resources.
      With every other browser I get prompted to download this .DLL or that .exe just to get the functionality of IE.
      I don't see where complaining about a bundled browser makes sense, since one may download the browser of ones choice and run it instead.
      Am I missing something here?
      BTW
      Just sold my computer sales and service company.
      I am officially RETIRED!
      Otis Driftwood
  • RE: Will someone pull out the IE life support machine?

    All browsers have their share of quirks and problems IE6,7,and 8 are no different and no worst.At the least IE works on all web sites which is something the rest of them can only wish for.
    fcs25@...
    • Correct me if I'm wrong...

      IE doesn't work on all websites, it doesn't always work properly on sites
      that follow W3C standards. MS said they'll now implement W3C
      standards, then warned ISP and, web creators that IE may not work
      properly on many sites.

      MS provided information how to have sites work properly with W3C
      standards the new IE will employ. MS wants IE to work properly with
      standards, it's about time. Other browsers conformed to W3C standards
      that's why they sometimes have problems at sites coded towards IE.

      Check http://www.w3.org/
      BubbaJones_
    • Windows/Microsoft Update?

      Has something changed with the Windows/Microsoft Update web pages? Used to be if you went there with Firefox, you got a message that said "go back and try I.E."
      Quebec99
      • LOL

        Umm, yea, it did - at least 2 years ago, maybe longer. Windows update hasn't needed IE since at least Vista.

        "The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed."
        gnesterenko
      • That may be true of XP BUT...

        ...It's no longer true of Vista nor Win 7. Both Vista and 7 use a stand alone utility interface for Windows/Microsoft Update. No browser required.
        Wolfie2K3
      • Firefox works on Windows/MS UPdate

        IF You get the Firefox add-on that uses the IE rendering engine. I do all my updates using Firefox, using the IE renderer.
        DavidBassPlayer
  • Add-ons

    For me, the big plus of Firefox is the add-ons. I simply love Adblock Plus, NoScript and MediaPlayerConnectivity.

    Firefox isn't very fast anymore, these days. Possibly partly because of my add-ons. I can live with that.

    Sometimes I use Epiphany as a browser, which is built on the Mozilla engine, but extremely lightweight and blazingly fast.
    pjotr123
  • Now you've done it ;-)

    Couldn't you have started with something [i]slightly[/i] less controversial? Like (say) going to Tehran and trying to selling copies of Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses" that have a picture of the Prophet Mohammed printed on the dust-jacket?

    Or are you trying to give NBMers all a brain-haemorrhage ;-) ?
    Zogg
  • FF Security

    It's clear that Firefox is faster than IE7/IE8 and agree that IE needs to change. But what about security? IE and Chrome have many important security features that FF don't have, for example, IE Protected Mode and Chrome Sandbox. What kind of protection does FF have? For me, security is more important than performance, and that's the reason I use IE and Chrome.
    dvm
    • Sure it does

      As the poster above mentioned - AdBlock and NoScript plug-ins will make you pretty much invulnurable to any browser attack. In fact, take out that 'pretty much' from the previous statement. I'm also pretty sure FF on Vista/7 was also the last browser to fall at the hacking convention.

      So if you are looking for most secure, you're using the wrong software.

      "The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed."
      gnesterenko
      • Re:

        So I need to download plugins to make FF secure, because it isn't configured to be secure. Many of the NoScript feature are already included with IE8 and Chrome. Plus with IE8 and Chrome I have security built in with Protected Mode/Sandbox. And remember that in the last hacking convention they were using IE8 Beta, and the winner was Chrome. So I think I'm using the right software/browser. You should check yours.
        dvm
  • Which memory count is in your screenshot?

    I'm no fan of IE but you may be being unfair to it by adding the memory of its processes together.

    Chances are a lot of the memory attributed to each process is shared. e.g. If they're all loading the same system or plug-in DLLs then there's usually only one copy of those things in memory, but also usually that copy is attributed to each process. Adding up the numbers is inaccurate.

    Chrome has a nice about:memory which shows you memory usage in a more accurate way for the active browsers, not just Chrome itself.

    The process separation stuff is a security aid as well as a crash isolator. It makes it harder to exploit bugs in the browser (or plugins) to access information in one tab via another.

    You could say those bugs should be fixed, and of course they should, but measures like that can help protect people from bugs that the developers haven't found yet so it's not a bad thing to do.

    Also, not all security or crash bugs are under the browser's control. If an in-process plugin like Flash crashes then Microsoft can't really fix that bug. Maybe plugins should be moved to their own processes so they don't take out the whole browser, but even then they can have unwanted effects unless there's so much checking between the layers that it would slow performance.

    That said, there's obviously a trade-off between performance & resource usage (processes do cost more than threads) and reliability & security. So it's not clear cut in either direction. I think you've been a bit unfair on IE in places, though.

    (I do still use Firefox, though, because I find its features and the wealth of extensions are worth far more in the equation and I don't like IE or Chrome's UI, and IE8 still doesn't seem to render pages as well as the competition.)
    LeoD
  • Big Issue

    Like many ZDNET bloggers you don't understand (or choose not to discuss) the objective of competition promotion, monopoly control and anti-trust ... amply illustrated by M$'$ handling of IE.

    The most favourable situation for consumers is to have several companies battling it out for our business. With competition we will see a keen price and regular imrovements in the product. Without competition we are open to a vendor setting his own price and ceasing development while he milks the cash cow. Note that monopoly is not a bad thing per se ... so long as the monopolist charges a fair price and continues with improvements.

    Once M$ recognised the importance of the browser it drove all competition from the market by giving it away free and tied to Windows. Then followed a tame series of updates to IE6. Not until Firefox started with tabs and the like did M$ have any (commercial) incentive to really improve IE.

    Your friend's post should have set you on the right track. It appears (his, not my, technical assessment) that FF too is heading for complacency and bloatware. That's why we want a choice of browsers developed by major corporations We want IE, FF, Chrome, Safari, Opera ... because these guys will kick the **** out of each other for our business.

    Look at the tactics of the big players:
    - IE tied to Windows
    - OSX tied to expensive hardware
    - iPhone tied to AT&T in the USA
    - lock in, lock in, etc etc

    Haven't you sussed it yet? Wake up Zack!

    The EU case against IE is not Europe v America, it is competitive market v monopolist. M$'$ pseudo hissy-fit of IE withdrawal from Windows is nothing more than a calculated manoeuvre (as is their poor-taste, contemporaneous offer to US citizens of aid for every copy of IE8 downloaded).

    Forget the nationalism, technical assessment, journalistic headline-grabbing crap: do you want an environment where the browser (maybe the most important application for the future) is available at a decent price and ever-improving ... or do you want IE shoved down your throat. We each get one vote ... and can exercise our personal influence.

    I want M$ knocked into shape. They have some terrific engineers spoiled by monopolistic management. I want a low-cost, super-charged version of IE.
    jacksonjohn
    • .

      You lost all creditibilty the moment you use M$... now grow up and become an adult.
      GTRoberts100
      • Agreed

        Using M$ instead of MS or Microsoft makes you look like nothing more than a MS hater and a lemming following the MS hater;s writing code book. It completely taints your agruement. Grow up. Atleast you didn't completely deep six your post with the foolish Windoze tag.
        Fark
    • Please research before inserting foot in mouth..

      Did you know that IE came with each and EVERY version of Windows since Windows 95 - the original release? It did. Version 2.0.

      So why wasn't it a big problem then? IE 2.0 sucked rotten eggs. It wasn't very useful.

      IE 3.x came with Office 97 - likely as a convenience because it was too big for most people to download in a reasonable amount of time over dial-up.

      It wasn't really all that good until version 4.0 when Windows 98 came around. That's about when everyone took notice and Netscape really started slippin'. Netscape 4.0 was garbage. 20 minutes to print a mapquest page with a few graphics on it. Why it had to download each and EVERY graphical image a second time made NO sense. IE 4 could print the exact same page, complete with graphics in about a minute and a half.

      At any rate. IE has been a part of the OS since 95...

      The simple truth is - there isn't anything in Windows that says you can't download ANY other browser (or for that matter ALL of them), install it and set it as your default browser, remove the icon from your desktop entirely and be done with it.

      Therefore, it's a matter, perhaps, of educating the masses that the other browsers exist. Of course, the question remains - monopoly or not - is it Microsoft's responsibility to advertise other people's wares?
      Wolfie2K3
  • Microsoft knows their software is crap ...

    "?Yeah, it?s an unstable application, so let?s make sure that it crashes well without actually fixing the problem.?"

    They did the same thing years ago with MS Office ... I can't remember which version it was, but they were lauding their new Document Recovery Feature, and actually said "So when your application crashes, you have a better chance of getting your information back" ...

    Hmmm, a Microsoft application running on a Microsoft O/S and they are actually telling you it WILL crash ... if you had an employee who said to you "Just so you know, I will be late everyday, and my work will be crap", wouldn't you fire them?

    Ludo
    Ludovit
    • *IF*

      Because you did not link to the actual statement made by the Microsoft employee, you comment is nothing but rumour and speculation... thus it is of no interest or based upon any fact.
      GTRoberts100