August 23, 2004

Browse Happy

The Web Standards Project (WaSP) has launched (and will continue to sponsor) Browse Happy. Browse Happy is a site that focusses on web browser alternatives to Microsoft IE. Many computers come with IE installed, either as part of the operating system or as an arrangement with the producer of the operating system.

Over the years Microsoft has listened to complains about their browser's lack of standards compliance (no browser was doing this well at the time). They took a huge leap and built a browser that was much better at complying to the standards than others. This allowed the developers of sites and content to work to no longer build to each browser but build to one standards. IE at this point was not perfect, but it was so much better than it ever was and it truly allowed the developers to build to specifications and have it run well on standards compliant browsers. Nearly everybody loved Microsoft for their advancements.

Unfortunately Microsoft thought good was well enough and stopped IE development in 2001. It was not and is not fully standards compliant. On standards IE is now far behind nearly all the other browsers that are standards compliant that a developer must hack their perfectly valid code to get it to work properly in an IE browser. Sites that develop for IE have serious problems when viewed in other browsers, which is becoming more and more the trend as mobile devices take off and people are forced to replace IE because of security problems.

Enough about the poor little developer, it is the people who are the user of web browsers that should be the attention. Many have realized that are are better options than IE. As IE development stopped in 2001 (except for excessive security patches) the rest of the browser developers continued to make progress. As it is with any technology, if one stands still with development others will pass them and possibly make them irrelevant.

Other browsers have now passed IE on, not only standards compliance, but accessibility (do you have problems reading all sites because the type is too small, well nearly all other browsers let you easily change the type to make it larger and easier to read), render the pages faster (this makes the pages show up much faster on the screen), very few rendering bugs (all the content will show up on the page), better user experience with ease of use (tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking, etc.), and more secure (U.S. Department of Homeland Security has not warned people to stop using other browsers as the security problems, while they occasionally arise on other browsers, are not regular events that require people to continually update their browser).

Browser Happy is a collection of real people who have found the world of non-IE browsers and have found the painful experiences of IE are not needed. They have found the other browsers are very easy to load on their machine. These real people have also found they can return to the joy of browsing the web that they once knew in more innocent times.



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