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Monday, August 07, 2006 

Microsoft Drops The Ball on Internet Explorer 7 Standards Compliance

Microsoft often says it's pro-standards - but typically, they'd rather own a proprietary interface or protocol than build a compatible system.

As I relaunched the new design of my site, NewsCloud, with very straightforward/simple CSS, I expected it would work in all browsers. Instead we discovered, it worked terribly in Internet Explorer. IE 6 and IE 7 failed to render even basic columnar layouts in CSS. What was going on?

At first, we put up a No Internet Explorer page. IE users would come to our site and be redirected to a page telling them why we recommend Firefox. This pissed a lot of people off (according to this study IE still represents 60% of Web market share).

This post made me reconsider:

"So the first thing that 98% of the people who might visit your site see is a message telling them they are WRONG in the browser they use? You aren't even showing them any reason why they should upgrade their browser in order to see YOUR site. You aren't boycotting Microsoft here - you are boycotting your own audience. Why not let people using IE see what your site can do, albeit not perfectly, and let them know that they would have a better experience if they used Firefox? After all, your site depends on audience/editors, and if you immediately drive most of them away..."

So, now IE users see a small banner at the top of NewsCloud. We've been able to get the columns to layout with a short additional IE-only CSS file, but a number of features look weird (our primary navigation for one) ... and many buttons don't respond still.

What is going on? This Firefox user shared a statistical analysis with me:

CSS 2.1 standard support:
IE 6: 52%
IE 7: 54%
Firefox 1.5: 93%
Opera 8.5: 93%
Opera 9: 96%

>> more