PS Consultants - ideas & solutions

IE6? Not yet
December 2001

When Microsoft launched Internet Explorer version 4, it was a pretty major cock-up and version 4.1 was hurried along to try and fix the numerous problemettes; but now Microsoft has foist IE6 on the world (along with Windows XP lurking in the wings), they’ve gone and done it again.

IE 5.5 was a pretty well refined and functional piece of work, after numerous fixes and patches.

It wouldn’t be so bad if after 25 years of taking the proverbial from its users and developers, Microsoft displayed an ounce of contrition, but in its own inimitable but predictable way, the MS IE website tells us smugly that one of the key reasons to upgrade to IE6 is because…

“You want to know that you are using a stable and error-free browser when you visit and perform tasks on the Web.”

The response to that begins with “b” and ends with “s”. (With “ollock” in the middle).

Excuse me, but people who developed web sites using the “exciting new features” of IE5.5 are universally stunned to discover that IE6 is simply not providing a compatible upgrade. Having “won” this game and seen off browser competition to the extent that the IETF and any other standards have been subjugated by the Beast of Redmond, the first thing Microsoft should understand is that it owes a duty of particular care to the those who are now victims of this effective monopoly.

Some of the bugs are subtle:-

“Did anyone else notice that private variables in pages that host behaviours are no longer visible to the behaviour?  Can anyone from MS explain why fundamental changes in the way the application functions are not clearly documented????”

But many are not, and here one newsgroup posting pretty much says it all:-

“After my most recent fob off from Microsoft telling me it's my graphics card drivers not working (and I have even tried MS universal drivers) being the cause for red crosses where a picture should appear, I now feel that IE6 is THE WORST VERSION OF IE *EVER* “

Pages do a 404 before even giving them a chance to load, security isn't always what it should be, it is buggy as hell, and I'm going over to Netscape.

The worst thing you can do is release a naff release because of pressure just to release, especially when it is as buggy as IE6.

Next time, Microsoft, wait until it's less buggy - I'm not asking for a bug free version as that's almost impossible, but the problems with IE6 are FUNDAMENTAL problems, like graphics not loading and errors on basic web sites.


Here’s another:

“Hey there, I just downloaded MSIE6 tonight, and my GOD, what a mistake!!!

I've found a few glitches already, in less than two hours.. but the biggest one that I'm having the most trouble with is the style sheets.  MSIE6 doesn't seem to recognize the collapsible table borders, though MSIE5.5 had absolutely no problem with it - and it really screws up the entire look of many of my websites without it.”

To avoid treading in any of the nastier bits of do-do being shed by this piece of software, go along to the Google news groups at:

But like me, you will want to know how to uninstall IE6. Well, good news at last:-

“Having had my fill of IE6 I decided to go ahead and try to go back to IE5.5 using the Add/Remove Programs option despite all of the bad things I have read in this newsgroup. Well it worked without a hitch and I am now running IE5.5SP2 and have all of my speed back with no hanging or pausing. I'm a happy camper again!”

As usual if you want to know what’s really going on, don’t read the Microsoft blather (or any web site spun by a corporate PR department!), read the nasty newsgroups. Maybe the new judge recent assigned to the anti trust case – the unlikely Colleen Kollar-Kotelly (just where do Americans get these names from..?)  will take the trouble to read the news groups to get a handle on just what sort of challenge she faces when trying to tame this unruly monopolist.

It’s easy to take a poke at Microsoft – as a trip through any newsgroup discussing MS software will show you. It’s fascinating to see how many people (who generally post a viable contact address) will spring up and defend Microsoft. Why does my nasty suspicious mind cause me to suspect that there are people paid to watch the newsgroups and take a swing back at those who criticise Microsoft..? I know if I was MS I would do it.

All manner of remedies have been being talked about now that the break up has been ruled out (let’s face it, Microsoft’s 95% stranglehold on desktops is fundamentally very good for the US, and these folks don’t usually do things for the benefit of mankind and the detriment of their own financial interests), but the IE6 fiasco is a perfect reminder that it’s all to late to have competition in core software, and that the standards subjected to the marketplace are ultimately a matter of the survival of the one with the most money and marketing, not necessarily the best technology.