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Weblog Entry

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Hegemony

June 04, 2003

Why the Luxury Web idea wasn’t destined to work, and more questions than answers.

There’s nothing like a good talking to by Zeldman to make you reconsider your ideas in a real hurry.

Right on the money as always, he draws parallels to the Apple ‘Switch’ campaign. If they’re not having luck, given their marketing budget and that they cater to an audience who responds enthusiastically, then a loosely gathered group of volunteers trying to lure people away from their current browsers won’t make much of a dent.

It’s tempting to call this particular comparison apples and oranges. Switching or upgrading an Operating System requires a hell of a lot more commitment and money to upgrade apps, not to mention the difficulty in rollbacks if things go awry. In reality, the scope is different but the underlying mindset is the same. “This is what I use. It’s what I’m comfortable with. Leave me alone.”

I believe he’s dead on about browsers: the end user really can’t care less about which browser they run. Which is why the Luxury Web concept focused on selling features, rather than selling browsers. But since, as Zeldman points out, this is precisely what others have tried and failed, then even that rudimentary thinking on the subject must be flawed.

My original thought was a reaction. It was a ‘well we can’t just sit here and take it, we have to do something!’ The percentage of the population that fails to vote each election have no right to complain about their elected leaders if they don’t speak up when they have the chance; it was my attempt at voting.

So what do we do now? No one but Microsoft is going to be content with letting the situation stand. Rapid evolution and occasional revolution have been a given in the computer industry for decades. When they slow down, we react. It happened last time; it will happen again. The question is: how?

And just for the sake of having it out there one more time, I don’t, in fact, think we’re in that bad of a spot right now. “…be thankful we’re even this far. Being stuck with IE6 for the next 7 years is way better than being stuck with NN4.” It could always be worse.


Reader Comments

1
Sander says:
June 04, 02h

When the obvious is explored, true creativity can shine. At least this will be some kind of standard: the current situation is not likely to change, MS won. However, this will give other browsers more time to catch up and get to the level of IE6 (like screenreaders, pda’s etc). So in the end this won’t probably defeat the purpose of CSS based webdesign.

2
Rookie Web Monkey says:
June 04, 03h

Since XP came out, my strategy has been to send as many of those error reports to MS as I could…I figure they’d get the point and fix stuff, but alas, it’s probably going to the vast nether of emptiness like all those Santa letters.

I just got onto this CSS bandwagon today, so there is hope. As the number of people creating CSS based sites increases the probability that MS will cater to us will increase…logically thinking, of course. You never know with MS, though.

June 04, 04h

I can’t stomach the idea that we, as developers, designers, and techies, should even consider siting back, accept being locked into a time-capsule for the foreseeable future, and simply ‘making the best of it’ – it goes against the very nature of what we do.

So yes, how do we react? Time for thought indeed.

haze says:
June 04, 04h

this ties into the conversation i had with you about designers and developers. large corporate entities are more focused on the *design* of web design than the *technology* of web design; most notably because clients/users dont see or care about how a site is done so long as it looks and works well.

(and to some degree, i agree)

there is a sect of individuals who feel that things such as browser compatibility, code compliancy, proper backend integration, and system/performance optimization are important. these people are called developers. ;)

you ask why the star war prequels suck? it’s because the story stunk. no amount of technology (CGI, jar jar, pod ship marketing) could have saved their ass. making internet is no different.

5
stylo~ says:
June 04, 10h

Zeldman’s argument is pretty bad, and really misses the whole point. I won’t repost here though, as I posted on web-graphics already: http://www.web-graphics.com/mtarchive/000881.php#chatty001730

This isn’t anti-IE per se anyway as explained in my post, but how in the world someone who supposedly advocates standards can say IE6 is not a bad browser, or has even been improved much since IE5, is beyond me. From PPK’s site (http://www.xs4all.nl/~ppk/css2tests/):

Which browser is The Best?
Counting ‘Yes’ as 1 point and ‘Buggy/Incorrect/whatever’ as 1/2 point, I come to the following score (out of a possible total of 45 points):

1. Opera 7: 42.5 points
2. Mozilla: 38 points
3. Konqueror/Safari: 30 points
4. Opera 5 & 6: 29.5 points
5. Explorer 5 Mac: 28 points
6. Explorer 6: 21.5 points
7. Explorer 5.5 Windows: 20 points
Explorer 5 Windows: 20 points
9. Explorer 4 Windows: 16.5 points
10. Explorer 4 Mac: 12.5 points
11. iCab: 6 points
Netscape 4: 6 points
Omniweb: 6 points

June 04, 12h

My younger brother has been taking the “do what you can with what you have where you are” approach.

During the past year, while he’s lived on campus, he’s been helping lots of dorm-mates install firebird on their PCs (most people want it for the pop-up blocking). OS bundling aside, college-age kids are the “sweet spot” for new browser acceptance.

I suspect the most comfortable way to make progress is one person at a time.

7
Sander says:
June 05, 03h

And that’s exactly why browser manufacterers should be refreshed on their moral obligation to the web and its users and standards, and when they pretend to be be deaf, sent to court for the destruction of innovation. ;)

8
stylo~ says:
June 05, 09h

One point I wanted to add was that the whole idea of “marketing” is misguided here, I think. The last thing needed, I would suggest, is a marketing campaign with shiny designer buttons and slogans to avoid. Think of this rather as offering sincere expert advice to your friends, your site visitors.

People trust you. They visit your site. On it you offer them your products, your opinions, your recommended books and links. -Why would you not offer them your expert advice on browsers, just as you do with friends offline?

*********************
CSS:
div[class~=bestweb]{
display:none;
}

HTML:
[div class=”yourNormalClass bestweb”]Are you missing out on [a href=”http://mozilla.org/projects/phoenix/why/” title=”Find out why we think so”]the web at its best?[/a][/div]

Of course, modify the blurb/link/title as desired.

This displays in all except Opera 7, Konquerer (so I assume Safari), and Mozilla. (For a different combination, see http://www.xs4all.nl/%7Eppk/css2tests/)
********************

It’s not going to “save the day” or anything, but it certainly helps move things in the right direction and at least you’re doing something positive.

9
Jason says:
June 05, 09h

The basic reason that people don’t switch browsers, or operating systems for that matter, is quite simple: they’ve become commodities. I’m a web developer by profession, so I have a number of browsers installed on my worstation. In fact, I’ve recently switched my default browser to Firebird and frankly, I think it’s a terrific little piece of technology. But that’s simply because I’m a geek – I am representative of maybe 0.01% of the Internet population.

At home, I run IE 5.5 on Windows 95. That’s right – 95. Why? Because upgrading an OS is a pain, and it’s perfectly fine for the things I do at home. Same with the browser – it’s good enough to get the job done. And that’s the main reason why IE 5.x and 6.x will be around for a long, long time – for most things, it’s perfectly alright. OK, so it can’t handle a transparent PNG. So what? It’s a pain to me as a web developer, but Joe and Jane Average couldn’t care less, even if they did know what PNG meant.

Until there is a competing browser with capabilities way beyond IE, then it will continue to be the way most people browse the web. And as much as I like pop-up blocking, adherence to CSS standards, better cookie management, Venkman, etc… they have way too little relevance to the average person to make them move to another browser.

Ivan says:
June 06, 06h

Loved the following comment:

The percentage of the population that fails to vote each election have no right to complain about their elected leaders if they don’t speak up when they have the chance; it was my attempt at voting.

except it misses the important (again!, as in so many others with political agendas) - People who don’t vote these days don’t complain because there is no one to listen them even if they do.

Dave S. says:
June 06, 08h

Ivan, you’re right of course. As I was making that analogy I realized it was flawed because, if this were an election, we’d already be well into the second term of the winner.

But if no one has a voice, and Microsoft has won because they keep bundling and integrating and the end user doesn’t care, then it’s hard to imagine another election coming any time soon. If nothing changes then we live in a dictatorship and this whole issue is moot. Standard code is moot. Welcome to the new standard: IE.