A Modern Browser

A Modern Browser

This morning, Mozilla shared their feelings on IE9 with a post that claims to answer the question, “Is IE9 a modern browser?” While they grudgingly concede that IE9 is “a step in the right direction”, they seem to be operating under a very narrow definition of what “modern” means, that I don’t think matches the dreams that web developers and end-users actually have.

Let me help them with a definition for what we believe users and developers should expect from a “modern browser”:

  • Modern browsers are fast. They take full advantage of the underlying platform to render graphics with the GPU, compile and execute JavaScript across multiple CPU cores and ensure that web applications run as close as possible to the same speed as native applications.
  • Modern browsers enable rich, immersive experiences that could hitherto only be delivered through a plug-in or native application. They can blend video, vector and raster graphics, audio and text seamlessly without sacrificing performance.
  • Modern browsers implement features when they are ready, providing predictable patterns that developers can rely on rather than suddenly breaking or removing specifications. They don’t check off support based on a half-completed implementation written to pass a synthetic test, but validate against a test suite that confirms interoperability.
  • Modern browsers do adopt standards at an early stage of readiness so developers can experiment and validate the specification, but clearly delineate unstable prototypes as such.

It seems that others share this view. The discussion on YCombinator starts with this comment:

Maybe I'm just weird, but I consider issues like performance, reliability, and having a stable foundation to build on to be far more important than supporting your own browser's take on some hypothetical future "standard", which is just IE vs. Netscape all over again. On that basis, IE is currently the only one of the big three that is actually going in the right direction.

And Download Squad concludes its analysis of the Mozilla article with the following:

Don't get us wrong, [Firefox] is an excellent browser -- but more stuff doesn't necessarily equate to better stuff.

To our friends at Mozilla, we admire your passion for the open web, and we look forward to continued competition.

  • hahaha do you understand what the word "modern" itself means?

    more development, and less flattering yourself... you have done enought damage to the web community already.

  • I am surprised Firefox behaves in such childish ways. When did they start becoming this ugly. i always though of them as "do not evil" kind of people. Why do they start this now?

  • @KickBox You clearly haven't tried Firefox 4.

  • "Modern browsers enable rich, immersive experiences that could hitherto only be delivered through a plug-in or native application."

    But if you want to support something as simple as drag'n'drop or multiple selection for file uploads you'll need to use a 3rd party plugin or another browser. So when will IE10 be out?

  • It's good to hear some of the other browser vendors providing a dissenting voice to the disingenuous marketing drivel spouted by Microsoft drones. The crowing tone of these missives is absolutely galling giving the horrendous impact IE has had on progress in web development for years. Have a little humility and just get on with *trying* to catch up with the rest of the world.

  • I think when all is said and done, sure, the end consumer (well some end users anyway) may love the IE9 experience, but all of us developers are WELL beyond fed up with IE and the continual need to hack (break) our standards compliant code, simply to make well designed and innovative sites function.

    Here we were hoping that IE9 was going to herald the grand entrance of something we could all get excited about... I guess not.

  • Let me know when IE9 runs on Linux, OS X and Solaris, I'll give it a try.

  • IE9 is going in the right direction but by testing the RC version I can tell that it is already behind from other browsers. The web is moving towards HTML5/CSS3 and I believe we'll have to wait until IE10 for IE to catch up with current browsers. This is very annoying for a web designer/developer because we always have to use hacks/external libraries o just not implement new features because IE won't support it while the rest do. I don't think your job here is to write a post about what somebody from Mozilla said. If IE9 is great you guys have to prove it by not lagging behind everybody else.

  • Perhaps saying IE9 is not a modern browser is a bit extreme but its really important for the IE dev team to take these comments seriously. Developers are dying to implement the latest technology/standards and even more excited to see it work in IE. The fact that CSS3 gradients don't even work is a real black eye. Given the bad PR IE has gotten in the past I think its really important not to justify sub standard behavior but listen to the comments and implement these features ASAP. Its far more powerful to say "We can do that, no problem" than to say "Well, here's why we can't or won't".

  • The rich, immersive experience ( ie.microsoft.com/.../Default.html ) dropped my laptop's battery charge from 3:50h to 1:20h. No good.

  • Thanks for the quote :)

    And good post!

  • This is just silly. Ask any developer what their favorite browser is and I bet at least 90% wont say IE. And if they do, ask yourself how competent that developer is.

  • I love zippy graphics as much as the next person (see also: WPF, Silverlight etc) but I think you should maybe also mention security as a key feature of a "modern" browser. I think we can ALL do better in that regard.

    Anyway, looking forward to Pwn2Own, should be fun!

  • Nice! I was looking forward for this kind of response. I mean, who cares whether mozilla firefox has this and that. I just want my computer to surf internet at blazing speed. Not to wait long lag loading (Firefox, I'm talking about resource hog here) of the piece of browser, and next the site loading time.

    But IE9 is not a full win yet, if they ditch XP (my favourite Windows version). Whaaaat.

  • Whats the deal with IE9 not supporting at least text-shadow, CSS3 gradients and transitions?  

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