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.

  • Doing research (/playing) with the latest canvas stuff, I was really impressed with IE9's speed. I'm glad you guys are dragging IE into the thick of it. Definitely some work left, but keep it up!

  • Brian Lopez has hit the nail on the head. MS ought to embrace open source, and stop competing with the rest of the browser world to free up more resources for what MS does best: Office.  Does MS not realize that extending open source (or pushing spec's in ways that benefits only their products) in incompatible ways loses them developer support?  Imagine a company that open sourced their browser, allowing others to contribute and extend it, sponsored conventions to try to break the product's security, innovated methods that can be copied to other products... oh, snap, that's google.

    sorry, MS.  i thought you cared about developers...  turns out you think old-style profits are the way forward.

    UPSHOT: modern browsers come from modern COMPANIES.  A fast, stable, usable browser is a good first step, but if you can get the developers on your side, then you've got something that's sustainably modern.  Make a difference, MS, not a browser, and you'll gain our hearts forever.

  • Good effort, Microsoft. I look forward to having to use a few less "hacks" to support fancy CSS3 properties in your browser, but you're not fooling anybody with this blog post. I'm not saying Firefox is perfect, but it is leaps and bounds ahead of IE9.

  • Maybe Mozilla should spend more time making their browser faster? After trying Chrome, Firefox is too painfully slow to be considered usable.

    Anyways, haters gonna hate; I'm installing IE9 on my Mom's computer as soon as its out (it currently has Chrome).

  • So, text-shadow seems to be the main concern. I'm actually glad they're not supporting that one. Just because it's an option doesn't mean it should be used. The one and only requirement for a 'modern' browser: significant updates are measured in months, not years.

  • I've been called a Microsoft fanboy on multiple occasions and even I think this is complete BS. There is NO excuse for not supporting the standards. All you do is make my life (as a developer) HELL.

  • Modern or postmodern ;)  anyway, I couldn't find any tech list around here of what features ie9 does support,so I'll stick to that the Mozilla post are true, when I develop. Thanks

  • Microsoft, since you *STILL* won't decouple IE from the operating system properly, people don't update it. People are still on IE6 because it came with Windows XP. But there's nobody still using Mozilla 0.7 (just as old).

    The browser you are peddling right now is the minimum browser you and everyone else will be struggling to support in 2021! It's patently ridiculous but it's true. You are going to hold up Web development for the next decade too.

  • You are right.

    P.S. Thank you, for IE9, it's pretty good.

    P.P.S. About Moz post - this is just Moz team's attempts to discredit concurent.

    FF is the most unsecure browser, and Moz team try look good.

  • As a web developer, I want to be able to implement designs without resporting to hacks or having clients say "but it doesn't look the same in IE".  For this reason, I do need IE to support CSS3 Gradients and CSS3 Text Shadow.  Other things are less important, but this is just the rounded corners issue all over again without these two features.

  • Do you guys realize you'd have no market share, and nobody would use your browser if it wasn't baked into your OS? Anyone I've recommended Firefox or Chrome to has never gone back. Their spyware and malware infections have gone way down as well.

    The biggest favor you could have done with IE9 is give up trying to write your own rendering engine, because man it still sucks. You should have jumped on the Webkit bandwagon, but of course you had to be stubborn old Microsoft.

  • Maybe Mozilla one of the best browsers, but we can't test it,because it is very heavy and gets slow. When I test latest IE9 release, I like it with all new features and as web developer I like new Developer tool ( better than FF 4 WDT  I say ). Keep going, you are on the right way.


    Samir. ( Azerbaijan, Baku )

  • Tim,

    Look at this:

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

    Haven't you guys figured this out yet?  You're supposed to implement AGREED INDEPENDENT standards, not just make up you own and then try and foist that on the rest of the world.  After all these years and so much criticism of MS, you still aren't in the right mindset to provide leadership on the web.  The sooner IE fades in to obscurity and is discontinued, the better.  You have to accept this is a race you lost a long time ago.

  • I've never seen IE9 in my life, because it can't be installed on XP. I don't want to pay for a whole operating system just to get a "more modern" browser. And after the tons of lies i read on MS sites about how "fast and modern" IE8 is with its accelerators and other crap, i will more easily believe Mozilla, than MS. (MS stands for Malicious Software, right?).

  • If you're going to include comments (which hold a TON of weight in value we all know), maybe you should read your own.  

    Web developers everywhere complain about IE and EVERY post I've seen from Microsoft has basically just ignored these facts saying "No, you're wrong, look this ONE person likes it".  What do you have to say about that?  Nothing.  You're going to ignore EVERYTHING that REAL people say and continue on like you own the world.  

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