Microsoft uses new tools to get Web developers to give IE another look

Microsoft uses new tools to get Web developers to give IE another look

Summary: Microsoft's new modern.IE site includes new compatibility tools to entice Web developers to update their sites to work with the latest IE releases.


We've seen Microsoft's "Browser You Love to Hate" campaign appeal to users to give the latest versions of Internet Explorer another look.


Now the Softies are going after the Web developer community with a similar message -- and new tools to entice them to make their pages and sites compatible with the latest IE versions and other "modern" browsers.

Microsoft launched a new site, modern.IE, which features free tools, guidance and other resources "designed to make it easier for developers to ensure their sites work beautifully across Internet Explorer as well as other modern browsers." As part of the release, Microsoft has partnered with browser-testing service BrowserStack, to provide devs with three months of free service, redeemable any time this year, to help them test their site on any browser on Windows.

There's also a scanning tool, via which developers can enter a page's URL and see compatibility issues; virtual test tools enabling Chrome, Firefox and even Mac OS users to get tools for testing IE on their respective platforms; and best-practices coding guidance.

"(W)e recognize that customers on older versions of IE continue to be a real challenge for developers testing their sites, particularly for those developers on non-Windows devices," said IE General Manager Ryan Gavin in a blog post on January 31. "We want to help. We want the web to move forward. And we genuinely want web developers to spend more time innovating and less time testing."

In other IE news, even though the release-to-Web (RTW) version of IE10 for Windows 7 is still not available, Microsoft is providing an automatic update blocker toolkit for IE10 for Windows 7, company officials announced on January 30.

Microsoft provided the same kind of blocker toolkits for IE7, IE8 and IE9. These allow admins to control how and when they want their users to get the latest version of a browser. If an organization does not install the blocker toolkit, customers with Windows Update will automatically be upgraded from IE9 to IE10 on Windows 7 once it is available.

Microsoft has been testing IE10 for Windows 7 for more than a year. The company delivered the latest public test build of IE10 for Windows 7 late last year. Microsoft recently told a subset of private testers that it was not planning to provide any additional private builds via Microsoft Connect before the product is released. Microsoft officials still are not providing a RTW target date for IE10 for Windows 7, but it seems like it could be any time now.

Topics: Browser, Microsoft, Windows, Web development


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • crossing my fingers..

    .. that Microsoft/343i use these tools to fix the Halo Waypoint site...
  • Plugin Problem

    The most important attraction of Firefox is the vast amount of plugins available for it.

    IE will never be successful without a healthy, simple and clean Plugin ecosystem (including a well maintained market, etc.).
    • Interesting you say that...

      Hot off the presses:

      Obviously those plug-ins are still available and useable, it was just funny to read that article and then read your post.
      • Only Flash and Java are the real plug-in threats

        Not the 978 (out of over 9,000) other ones that are listed on Mozilla's website. They won't be blocked.
  • Excellent tools

    I tried some of the tools, looks great.
  • Scanned Mary Jo's blog

    I scanned Mary Jo's blog using the tool. Many compability problems and suggestions.

    Maybe "All about Microsoft" should be renamed to "Not compatible with Microsoft"? :-)
    • You think

      that ZDnet conforms to the standards they report about?
      Michael Alan Goff
  • Next on the list:

    Improve IE's built in web development tools. Seriously, Internet Explorer's developer tools lag chrome and firefox's so badly.
    • On what planet?

      You obviously aren't a developer.
  • Mayhap...

    ...MS should write IE so that web developers can just write to the standard and not have to worry about IE-specific quirks.
    John L. Ries
    • What he said ...

      I systematically avoid IE because:

      1) I don't want Bing all over my face or other MS junk in my face.

      2) Around year 2000, MS tried to impose it's will on the internet by introducing proprietary tags in IE. There was no innovation in browsers for years until new browsers were created and people woke up and IE started to lose market share.

      3) As a former web developer, you wouldn't imagine all the grief (time and money) they have caused to developers because they wouldn't adhere to standards.

      Microsoft wouldn't know what innovation is even it bit them you know where ... too little, too late MS. The internet has moved on and you were left in the dust ... couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of monopolists.
      • Well said

        MS was trying to delay the innovation in the web space as much as they could. It was because it was obvious that the web was starting to danger their monopoly in the OS world by making the OS a commodity. So what they did for years was just to block any real innovation in the browser space. Not only by not innovating their own browser but also by creating custom tags that will fragment the web development space as much as possible. If you want to run IE you HAVE TO use Windows. They tried to make sure that everybody uses IE (its loaded in Windows by default) and that the sites made for IE won't look good on other browsers. That was the strategy. And it worked for some time...
        I am sooo happy for Firefox and Google. If it wasn't them then we would have been in the dark ages of crappy Windows on premise installation still.. With ActiveX controls!
    • Hmmm...

      IE 10 is the MOST standards compliant browser out there. Your not a developer are you???
      • I was...

        ...but it's been a while (it was actually a sideline I was happy to lose). If MS has finally made IE standards compliant, then that's a good thing; but it would help if MS also made standards-compliant versions of IE available for all recent versions of Windows (XP and later).
        John L. Ries
    • They do develop to standards

      Have you even tried IE 10?
      Michael Alan Goff
      • Never tried IE10

        I'm a cross-platform developer, and therefore prefer to use the same tools on all platforms, so IE doesn't interest me (Firefox continues to be my browser of choice). If I went back to web development, though, then it would be stupid not to test with IE, along with FF, Opera, Chrome, and Lynx.
        John L. Ries
  • Always Test Directly For Features, Not Version/ID Strings

    I have no sympathy for Microsoft's woes, which are largely of its own doing, anyway.

    But as a developer, I WILL agree with this in the strongest possible terms: DO NOT TEST USER-AGENT STRINGS! Instead, do a more direct test for the actual functionality you need. That way, you have a better chance of working on unknown browsers, and newer versions of browsers.
  • I'm not enticed...

    And I'm sure they really care about all the headaches they've caused web developers over the years, only to gloss them over with great "innovations" like conditional comments to work around all their weird arse browser quirks from one version to another. IE's awfulness can't even stay out of code COMMENTS for pete's sake... how sad is that?

    I'm just glad they don't make the rules any more. It's been quite enjoyable watching their long slow slide into irrelevance.
  • Chrome for the win. IE changes, too little, WAY too late.

    At many companies IE is the standard browser. Developers couldn't use IE for development, why? It was not just that it was awkward, it was horrible, especially when one compared it as a development tool to firefox. Chrome came into the picture and has really taken hold, not just as a development tool, but as a really nice browser. Fairly recently with the mobile browser push, and alternate desktop O/Ss have come into the picture, MS has already disenfranchised the development community at large. But now MS is losing the device war. I think any move on their part is way way too late. Chrome can be everywhere, and it appears to be growing like crazy.