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Mailbag: Why IE

More readers share their reasons for using Internet Explorer -- with varying degrees of enthusiasm:

For my purposes, there is one HUGE benefit in using IE: the extensive options in the print preview function. We have a SaaS application that has been around for about eight years now. It was developed using frames (I know, I know, not the best choice, but eight years ago it was a great one). IE is the only browser that allows me to do a print preview of just the selected frame with no muss and no fuss. The other browsers either don't provide that option or they don't implement it correctly (i.e., they don't apply the "@media print" rules in the preview window). I don't recall if this was in IE 7 or not, but the other thing is the ease of use of the "print selected text," which also shows up in print preview.

Most of the other browsers have finally started implementing the shrink-to-fit feature. Now, if they'd only get the rest of the print preview features implemented, then I'd be ecstatic.

IE is all I use, unless something else is required. And my company uses all .NET-based Web apps, so we have to. I have yet to have an issue where it would not work. No reason to switch.

I haven't used IE in years, except when I absolutely have to -- like for forcing Windows updates. I avoid it like the plague. Until MS drops ActiveX, IE will be nothing but an attack vector for malware creators and crooks.

Because of ActiveX, I have to use IE. At work, we use BMC Service Desk Express for our helpdesk software, and eTime for our employees' "time clock." Both require IE. And there are still a lot of Web sites that will not work without IE (for example, try to watch an online movie at Netflix).

For the most part, I use Firefox. It has good plug-ins to make it easier to use. Chrome hangs and shuts down too often, and Safari is just a pain to use.

The one thing for me that keeps IE in use is SQL Server Reporting Services. Microsoft managed make SSRS so it is only rendered correctly in IE. Anything else and you end up with about three lines of report showing in the top left-hand corner (with scroll bars), with the remainder of the screen blank.

Do I use IE? Only because I have to, for Microsoft Update. Do I use Chrome? Not at all. Firefox is the browser of choice. Why? The add-ons (Adblock Plus, Exit Viewer, NoScript, DownThemAll, All-in-One Sidebar). The browser...well, it works. But what sold me was the add-ons. What I found in 10 minutes for Firefox was far better than anything I found for IE 7.

I don't even have IE installed on my Macs (four of them) and I don't use it on my PC. I never liked IE and Microsoft, but it has little to do with my choice. IE was late to incorporate the tabs and it's been unimpressively designed and somewhat unstable. Thank God (Steve Jobs and Co.) for Safari, which now works on Windows, too. I use Firefox extensively, even on the Macs.

IE 8's performance isn't in the same playing field as the Small Three (Firefox, Chrome, Safari). Sure, taking three to 10 times as long as the competition for JS operations is a huge improvement over previous versions of IE, but it's not exactly the sort of thing you want to encourage people to use, now is it?

We want to know what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on January 14, 2009