The real facts about Internet Explorer 8

ie8-table1If there’s one thing you could never accuse Microsoft of lacking, it’s good old-fashioned Chutzpah.

The real facts about Internet Explorer 8

The world’s favourite monopolist has launched a new “Get The Facts” campaign for Internet Explorer 8, that seems remarkably short on fact and a bit top-heavy on the codswallop.

You can see Microsoft’s version of the facts running down the left-hand side of the page, where the company has decided to compare Internet Explorer 8 against Firefox and Chrome. Yes, that’s right. Internet Explorer 8 wins in every single category, apart from a couple where it generously shares the honours with its rivals.

We could spend a couple of hours demolishing the argument for almost each and every one of those Microsoft ticks. Then again, we could spend a couple of hours shooting fish in a barrel or stealing sweets from children with only one arm, but we’ve got better things to do, so we’re just going to deal with the most blatant of Microsoft’s whoppers.


“Features like Accelerators, Web Slices and Visual Search Suggestions make Internet Explorer 8 easiest to use.”

No, they don’t. Take, for example, the very first search I typed into the search box (shown below).

ie8-ebay-errorOr go to the Weather from Bing Web Slice page and try adding to Internet Explorer and see what happens. When we tried we simply got a new window showing search results for the Weather in Brentford (we’re in central London), and no option to add a Web Slice whatsoever. Still, nice and easy, eh?


This one really takes the Chocolate Digestive. IE8 may finally be standards compliant, but only after a decade of Microsoft essentially dictating its own standards to web browsers. The ACID3 test is widely regarded as the most suitable test of standards compliance. On this test, IE8 scores  20/100,  Firefox 3 gets 72/100, and Chrome 2 scores a perfect pass with 100/100.


How Microsoft has the cheek to call this one as a score draw is astonishing. “Sure, Firefox may win in sheer number of add-ons, but many of the customisations you’d want to download for Firefox are already a part of Internet Explorer 8 – right out of the box,” Microsoft claims. Really? I must have missed the IE8 feature that allows me to block out ads (such as Firefox’s Ad Block Plus) type browser commands in natural language (like Mozilla’s Ubiquity) or neatly collate and edit web pages for offline viewing (with the Scrapbook add-on).


“Internet Explorer 8 is more compatible with more sites on the Internet than any other browser.” Only because web designers have spent the past decade adapting their sites to Microsoft’s own warped idea of web standards. Plus, Firefox users can easily install the IE Tab Add-on for those increasingly rare sites that don’t work in Mozilla’s browser – which are largely Microsoft sites anyway.


Microsoft dismisses as a “myth” claims that Internet Explorer is much slower than Firefox and Chrome. “A lot of Firefox and Chrome advocates like to cling to micro-benchmarking page load claims to measure browser speed. But in most cases, these differences can only be viewed by slow-motion video captures.”

Nonsense. As part of our review of IE8 we opened a 16-slide presentation in Google Docs. Chrome and Firefox took 19 seconds to start the presentation, IE8 took 33 seconds. You don’t need a slow-mo camera to catch that one.


Internet Explorer 8 isn’t a bad browser. For day-to-day surfing, it’ll probably be fine for the vast majority of people. But these vastly over-blown claims of world supremacy hand far too much free ammunition to Microsoft bashers.

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