Sifting the facts about IE from the lies

Microsoft's 'Get the Facts' campaign for IE is ripe breeding ground for critics.

Microsoft's Windows Internet Explorer Get the Facts website is just about as truthful as any other campaign that falls somewhere between PR and propaganda. And it's causing the kind of backlash that can't be helpful in increasing the browser's reputation. Hundreds of blog articles refuting the so-called facts have appeared since Microsoft launched the site this week.

One of the best analysis we've seen of the so-called facts on the site was published by the Geek Technica blog, who takes each "myth" and presents a reasonable argument as to why the myth is true.

Here's the 1-minute version of Geek Technica's response: IE isn't faster, isn't "richer and more adaptable" than Firefox, isn't more secure, and doesn't comply with Web standards better than other browsers.

But refuting refuted myths is tricky business and others point out that Microsoft's point of view isn't entirely whacked. Let's look at security. Is IE8 or is it not more secure than other browsers? "Mike" says it isn't bad:

"IE7 – 36 Advisories. With only 42% marked as highly critical, and 33% marked as a very low critical flaw. FF3.x – – 15 advisories, 80% of which were highly critical. Chrome 2.x – 1 Advisory, already patched and fixed. The advisory was released 9 days ago. It was highly critical."

Mike also notes, that Microsoft has done a decent (but not perfect) job in sandboxing the browser with its User Account Control so that most users login as users, not admins, while most exploits need administrator access to do any real damage.

But where IE8 and the Get the Facts site is really offensive is in its claims to be superior at supporting Web standards by pointing out that it successfully passes the Acid2 test. Only anyone that knows the Acid tests also understands that IE does poorly on the Acid3 test (which you can try for yourself, now at Acid3). It fails the test miserably, gaining a 20/100. Firefox does better but isn't perfect -- it achieves 72/100. Google Chrome passes with flying colors (pun intended) with 100/100 score.

The Web Standards Project explains, "Acid3 is a test of dynamic browser capabilities which exists to encourage browser vendors to focus on interoperability." Acid3 is not the end-all of tests, but since Microsoft made such a big deal when it, very belatedly, passed the Acid2 test and Acid3 has been out since March, 2008, honesty would dictate at least an explanation of why IE8 still can't pass the darn thing.

In the meantime, don't listen to Microsoft or those who are getting their feathers ruffled by it. While IE8 can most definitely improve itself in rendering, it is a perfectly good browser, as are the others.

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