Monday, December 20, 2004

IE 86'ed at PSU

You've already seen the story about the I.T. department at Penn State, a massive public university, urging its community to stop using Internet Explorer. You read it at the Chronicle, Slashdot, Information Week, etc.

I'm really pleased about this decision and impressed with the administrators at Penn State for making a public stand. My satisfaction isn't derived from the normal urge to badmouth Microsoft. When they make good software, I'm happy to give them my business. Heck, yeah, I'd like more competition in the marketplace, but I have no problems firing up my copy of Excel.

I'm just sick of enduring the immense resource drain that the Swiss-cheese security of Explorer and Outlook have caused. Billions of dollars have been wasted globally trying to counteract the negative impacts of viruses, worms, spyware, and all other manner of exploits that their software has been vulnerable to. Oh, sure, MS aren't the bad guys. What would we think of a bodyguard whose every client was shot, while defending himself by saying "there are too many people who want to hurt my clients."

The main problem for customers of a ubiquitous monopoly like Microsoft is clout. How do you build up sufficient market power to make them be responsive to your needs?

I've been quietly advocating for a public education campaign on campus for years to urge folks off of Microsoft's internet apps. It'll be interesting to see if any other schools follow suit in public fashion over the coming months. With the stir over Firefox going on, this is probably as good an opportunity as we're going to get.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Security is one reason. Here's another: Cool web apps. Every time I develop a cool something or other with javascript using Firefox, there's always the inevitable session looking at the app in Internet Explorer, and wondering why it doesn't quite work THIS time. Just today I came across a new one. The innerHTML attribute was invented by Microsoft for IE 4. However, for certain tags, it is read-only, for instance the tbody tag, for which I was using. I didn't notice until now. I used innerHTML because it's supposed to be very fast, and indeed, it seems to be. So here we have an element INVENTED BY MICROSOFT, and it actually functions more clearly and more consistently in Firefox than in IE. Which leads to wasted time making it work in IE, which usually involves some crazy work-around. Which makes it harder to release new and truly powerful web interfaces that also perform acceptably. Sometimes, I wonder just wants to piss us all off. So if it's security that gets people to make the switch, that's just fine by me. As long as they make the switch. It'll only make my work that much easier.

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