Why Upgrade?: Benjamin-Newton Overview

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Why Require New Versions of Web Browsers?/ Why Upgrade?

One of the reasons why I as a web designer continue to encourage people to upgrade, to the latest browser is that, while Adobe Reader from 2001 has plenty of formatting features for me and most others, HTML is still very limited in formatting options. Recently, most major web browsers have added a couple of very useful capabilities, including video without plugins and a much wider variety of fonts.

The Microsoft Approach

When Microsoft gets caught with factual and independently verified flaws, they change the way they count the numbers of security flaws or redefine words in ways that no one else does. It is Microsoft's attitude that the consumer is the problem and that if you have problems with your computer, then it is your fault, because Microsoft can never admit they ever do anything wrong. With Microsoft, everything is a test of loyalty: you either use, only their products, all the time, for everything, or you are an enemy to crush, by any means, even illegal and unethical. Microsoft is run by salesmen and that is why they produce such inferior software: salesmen will sell you anything - there is no focus on product development and they have no standards. If anyone else produced a product, with as many flaws in it, as their software, they would have all the products recalled, but somehow people have accepted that it is ok for PCs to fail. If their microwave or their car worked like their PCs, they would return them and the government would make the company return their money. Think about it: why is the number one reason why you buy a PC vs. why you buy an iPod. You buy the PC because of compatibility (meaning you have no choice), but you buy the iPod because you want to.


Whereas the PDF specification was put together by one company (Adobe), who develops design software and makes money off of it, web browsers have to conform to standards, dictated by committees, which take decades to decide upon, and are often not realistic practically or technically. One of the things holding back web browsers is that when HTML was first introduced, basic formatting features were added, without regard to how hard it would be to develop web browsers, to interpret them or designers to update websites (mainly because of mixing presentation with organizational structure), and the decision to make the HTML language accept such sloppy syntax.

Legacy and Innovation

Because web sites designed 10 years ago need to be able to be viewed by current browsers, it has made it slower to add formatting features. Some formatting, like page breaks, were not added, due to philosophical decisions. And web browsers constantly have a chicken and egg problem of web designers needing browser support, before they try new features, while browser developers wait for demand to build, before implementing new features.

Microsoft Destroying Competition

Along the way, Microsoft has always been afraid, that if the web was easy enough to use, that it would break its monopoly and allow competitors, to effectively compete with them, based on product quality and features, and not be able to own the entire market, by making things incompatible, so that their customers had no choice in vendors. Flash was successful, because Microsoft bundled it with Windows XP to kill Java and made Quicktime incompatible with Windows, so that Flash got the critical mass install base, to allow designers, to do things, that were not possible, with the HTML of that era.

Origins of Internet Explorer

Microsoft also designed Internet Explorer, to not work properly with standard HTML and Javascript, and threatened to raise the price of Windows licenses for Compaq, if they bundled the then most popular browser, called Netscape. Once Netscape was killed off, as a company, and Microsoft took over the web browser market, by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows, they stopped development of Internet Explorer. Then some developers began to clean up and make lean the rewritten next generation layout, for the successor to Netscape (Netscape open sourced its browser, before dying, as a company, so that its software lived on).

Origins of Firefox

This software is now known as Firefox and, as it got back the market share that Netscape had lost to Internet Explorer, web developers began to start writing websites, that worked correctly, so that non-Microsoft browsers could see the pages. Along the way, Apple has captured the future computers market, with their mobile devices and Google has dominated the Internet, so that Microsoft is too busy extending itself, into new markets and being blocked and failing to make any money, or take serious market share and so has not had time, to continue to sabotage HTML and Javascript.

The Fight Continues

Currently Microsoft has released a number of copycat technologies in Windows Vista and 7, to destroy: JPEG, OpenOffice.org, Flash, and PDF; so that we can use incompatible Microsoft only versions and pay through the roof for them, once there are no viable alternatives. Internet Explorer seems to lose a percentage point, in market share, every month, even as they are releasing new versions of Internet Explorer. Most of this has happened by word of mouth. One of the reasons why users do not want to update Internet Explorer is because most sites have to do hacks, to get Internet Explorer to work, so that when a new version is released, it is not flawed in the same way, as the previous version, but still doesn't conform to standards, so new hacks have to be added, for each new release.

Microsoft Never Learns

One of the things that hasn't changed, with all these new web browser releases, from Microsoft is that they continue to have: terrible security records, continue to fail to offer competitive performance, and they still haven't fixed most of the incompatibilities and bugs, while introducing new ones. There is a very small Norwegian company that makes one of the best browsers and it is considered, by almost everyone knowledgeable in the field, to be many times better than Internet Explorer. By independently verified standards, that every other browser measures itself by, called Acid tests, Internet Explorer moved up from an F- to a higher F- over the last 3 versions. Microsoft can obviously afford to hire decent programmers, so there is no excuse for their failures, as they are obviously deliberate.

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