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10 May, 2004

Browser switch campaign

There's some new content on the blog's main index page, exclusively for those viewing it in Internet Explorer.  Lucky you.
Not for everyone else, as that'd be preaching to the converted, but I'll explain anyway.

Following the lead of Neil Turner, I'm suggesting that people make the switch away from IE.  I'm not inclined to criticise Micro$oft (ahem, Microsoft) merely because it's fashionable to do so; I genuinely believe IE is an inferior product, in several respects.

I was initially sceptical (who, me?) about the near-evangelism of Mozilla supporters, but having tried Firefox for myself, that's the browser I recommend. The selling point, for me, was that the transition was seamless: the user interface and initial browsing experience were near-identical to that in IE, so there was no learning curve. The immediate benefits are unseen, in protection against popups, ad- and spyware, plus reliable, standards-compliant processing of web pages. In that respect, Firefox is IE's better-performing twin. If you're happy with IE, there's no reason not to try Firefox.
I didn't 'get' tabbed browsing for a while, and it's entirely possible to continue opening pages in new windows, as in IE, if one prefers, yet I've certainly taken to the new technique, and when I have to use IE occasionally, I find the experience clumsy.

It's worth mentioning that though I personally consider IE obsolete, I'm certainly not going to exclude visitors because of their choice of browser. IE users should not receive a lesser browsing experience at the Ministry than those using real browsers. My criticism of Ben Goodger (one of the lead developers of Firefox) for deliberately blocking IE access to his personal site stands: that is not a reasonable way to proceed. See this earlier post, and the associated comments, which also provide further arguments for making the switch to Firefox.

Again emulating Neil, I encourage other website owners to pass on the same message to their visitors; "Let's get together and encourage people to adopt better browsers." The code used to generate the message at the top of the blog's index page uses a javascript browser detection function, so is only displayed in IE. I'd gladly offer a copy to anyone wishing to use it, but it's customised to the 'house style' and omits links to alternative browsers I don't recommend personally (Opera and Safari). It would probably be more appropriate to visit Neil's site and download his version of the script, as he suggests.


I switched to Firefox about six months ago and now it's my number one browser. There are a few problems with it, however - although, some are not it's fault.

It is still a little buggy with some javascripts;

Some web pages which are built to IE specs (rather than W3 specs) don't display well on Firefox

Some functions you take for granted in IE have to be manually installed in Firefox

These aren't enough to make me go back to IE, but occasionally you have no choice. Oh, and some of Microsoft's web pages only work on IE, of course!

But all in all, Firefox is a much better experience.

Posted by Cheeks at May 11, 2004 03:46 PM

Then there are those of us who access via works PC's and have no choice in the browser issue.

Ben Goodger didn't think of that or if he did he didn't think it through properly. Exclusion will alientate people against the very product he wants us to promote.

Posted by coffdrop at May 12, 2004 12:05 PM
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