Friday, January 23, 2009

Of dropping IE6

Everyone should go say hello to Doug Bowman, design god, and give him a,"Fuck, yes!" of encouragement on his decision to drop IE6 support for his newly designed site:
"IE6: the new Netscape4

This version of the site is also my first opportunity to give IE6 the proverbial finger. It was liberating to develop this site without checking my work in IE. Time for everyone to say I dropped IE6. Hello :before and :after pseudo-selectors, attribute selectors, adjacent-sibling selectors, and all kinds of other simple selector tricks that should have worked years ago in every browser.

I didn’t even check any version of IE until last night, when I figured I should at least take a peek to see how gloriously IE6 barfed all over a 10-year old CSS2 specification. Impressive, it was. For now, I’m using conditional comments to serve a custom stylesheet for IE6 just to turn off most of the styles. This seemed like the lesser evil, and at least ensures the poor souls still using IE6 can at least read my content. IE6 gets a stripped down, single-column view that will get no more attention of love after this. I’ll be able to yank those conditional comments and the entire stylesheet anytime I want. I noticed IE7 had one major problem with a negative margin, so IE7 gets its own little stylesheet too."
He also links to I dropped Internet Explorer 6, a site that really should have more than 49 sites registered.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

EU on IE

Okay, let's talk about this for a minute. If you see EU and IE in the same sentence and don't have a fucking clue what happened, go read up:

BBC: Microsoft is accused by EU again
"The European Commission has accused Microsoft of harming competition by bundling its Internet Explorer browser with its Windows operating system.

The commission said it had reached the preliminary view that the US software giant had undermined consumer choice and infringed EU rules.

Microsoft and the European Union have engaged in legal battles over competition issues for years.

Last year, the EU fined Microsoft 899m euros ($1.4bn; £680.9m)..."
Slashdot: EU Antitrust Troubles Continue For Microsoft (linking to and quoting from Network World's EU slaps Microsoft (again) for antitrust over IE bundled with Windows)
"Opera Software's year-old antitrust complaint against Microsoft took another step toward being vindicated, and the Oslo-based browser maker can't help crowing over the European Commission's decision. Opera had filed a complaint with the EC in December, 2007, contending that Microsoft's bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows violated antitrust rules. Yesterday, the EC sent a 'Statement of Objections (SO)' to Microsoft with a preliminary finding that bundling IE with Windows does indeed constitute an antitrust abuse. Microsoft has eight weeks to plead its case and change the EC's mind, an unlikely outcome if ever there was one. Opera's CEO said, 'On behalf of all Internet users, we commend the Commission for taking the next step towards restoring competition in a market that Microsoft has strangled for more than a decade...'"
Computer World: EU: Microsoft 'shields' IE from competition
'The European Union's antitrust agency on Saturday confirmed that it has charged Microsoft with breaking the law, saying that the company "shields" Internet Explorer (IE) from "head-to-head competition" by bundling its browser with Windows.

The CEO of Opera Software, the Norwegian browser maker whose December 2007 complaint sparked the EU's investigation, welcomed the move. "This is extremely important," Jon von Tetzchner said in an interview late Friday. "It's important that people have a choice of browsers. It's important that we don't have one company dominating the browser market..."'
...and covered by just about every Linux and Mac news site in existence, along with everyone else whose boiling blood at seeing "IE" instantly felt worlds better at seeing the rest of the sentence, which typically described the EU walking in on the aforementioned IE getting shoved into some orifice its citizens by Microsoft, who apparently forgot the gag this time.

However, many cannot help but wonder how users would download their browser of choice without IE installed on the machine from the start. How do you download a browser without a browser? Or, to quote one of the latest mind-numbing dumbasses commenting in support of IE,"If IE was not bundled with Windows, how would you visit Mozillas page for downloading Firefox?" Or more articulately by one of us merely exploring the options available in order to comply with a ruling against Microsoft,
"...How do you download a browser without a browser? I’m sure the clever crew here at QuirksMode can come up with a few solutions, but I’m also sure an average end user won’t have the faintest idea what to do...

...This leads to a very confusing situation in which nobody wins and the end user loses. For these reasons I start to wonder if the unbundling can realistically be executed. Then again, if we do nothing Microsoft retains its advantage over the other browser vendors..."
Now, this got me thinking about a method by which not only can Microsoft show how much they actually mean all of their fucking groveling and apologizing to the EU and pathetic "we work with the open source community" infuriatingly shallow, yet endless pool of watery shit, but how they can put their money, their users, and their all-too-slowly shrinking collection of monopolies behind their fucking-son-of-a-bitch-I-will-cut-you mouth. Not only this, not...only...this, but they can also preemptively avoid similar (and otherwise unavoidable) decisions by fucktons of people. For instance, about that the way in which Microsoft's products miraculously work in harmony that means IIS can sometimes outperform Apache in Windows, SQL Server can integrate better than Oracle on Windows (even with PHP for fuck's sake), and you can only construct a supposedly reliable Microsoft server setup by ditching everything Microsoft didn't shit out itself, who then charges you for the honor of catching that shit in your mouth for years on end.

Anyone from Microsoft (or Apple, for that matter, who bundle Safari and Quicktime with fucking iTunes...possibly just to spite Microsoft?), feel free to start tuning back in at this point. If you take just one fucking thing out of the myriad of beautiful possibilities of what you might learn from the Linux and BSD communities, learn this: people like free software.

This has nothing to do with piracy, you greedy motherfuckers. You give away IE and Safari for free, don't you? That's one form of free software. Granted, Apple has done a much better job of getting the "free as in freedom" part with the WebKit project than Microsoft, who still grapples desperately with the "free as in beer" aspect. But let's put aside the "freedom" part of it for now until you get a pair of balls big enough to look that subject in the face and give your users some real goddamn respect.

Right now, we'll just talk about "free as in beer."

Users of all major distributions of free operating systems can, today, install a browser without first having a browser installed (though most come with at least one or two), if they so choose to install the operating system without that particular piece of software. They could install FTP programs, word processors, media players, and entire enterprise-ready server setups without ever installing a browser in order to get to some site. Some distros offer thousands of software packages, while others offer merely hundreds, all via a simple (okay, not really simple) piece of software generally referred to as a "package manager."

Before anyone starts scoffing at this idea, just sit your ass back and consider what the fuck the goddamn iTunes store does. Apple has already started learning about the power of putting real design muscle (or, at least, what little it deigned to assign) and a hell of a lot of marketing power behind a package manager that works with just one little branch in an OS' family tree. With so much of the software available for MacOS available via a simple, all-contained package that you can drop into the Applications folder, they have such an advantage over Microsoft on this front I would find it difficult to believe that everyone in Microsoft thinks they did things right by making people finger their Windows registry in order to completely remove half the shit that IE willingly installs for them.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch: anyone wondering how Grandma will get to her emails and pictures on the Internet could rest easy if Grandma's machine starts up with a piece of software that asks her what the fuck she wants to do with her computer.


Here, have a few options, with pretty fucking pictures of what they look like and reviews of them so you can decide for yourself (sound familiar?). Want something usable? Try Thunderbird. Want something you can hack the shit out of into your very own artificial life form of something resembling an email client? Try mutt.


Here, more options with pretty fucking pictures and reviews from people. Something called "Opera!" I like Operas! Look at all the pretty things I can use to dress it up! Something called "Firefox!" That sounds like the balls to the motherfucking wall Harley I used to ride compared to this "Internet Explorer" shit.


Here, have options ranging from full fucking media servers to a bare-bones, simple, usable, easy media player.


Here, have some options ranging from no-distractions writing tools to word processors that can index, cross reference, categorize, and merge before you realize you need it to.

In the Linux and BSD world, where many happy people live, all of this comes free. And not just free as in "for 30 days" or "I can use this for non-commercial purposes, and I'll get this goddamn watermark all over everything," but free to use forever. And (generally) free to do with it whatever the fuck you want. Download it once and copy it to all 50 machines in your office. Put your company's branding on top, or turn it into a collaborative tool. Download patches, extensions, plugins, and hacks to make that motherfucker better, stronger, faster!

...breathing slowly, and riding that orgasm back down to the subject at hand...

Users of distros like Debian (Ubuntu's sugar daddy), FreeBSD, Slackware, and innumerable others have all provided examples of how to do this in a way that best suits their users (albeit some better than others). Take users' opinions of you on the chin and give them the choice. If people really do prefer your software to that of others, the reviews and downloads will reflect that. If they don't reflect that, then I guess you have some marketers to fire (or better yet, put out of their our goddamn misery) and a shitload of catching up to do.

Regardless, your users crave and deserve choice, and you can give it to them. You saw what happened when Apple released a package manager for the iPhone: developers tripped over themselves to pay Apple for the honor of getting in line for the chance to take Apple's restrictions up the ass. You, Microsoft, only have to copy them once again (in copying someone else) and loosen the noose a bit so actual browsers and media players can play in the same fucking sandbox. If your software really does just beat the shit out of the rest of them, then why not try proving it for once instead of cowering behind your fucking EULAs and OS-level integration?

I won't pretend that you can just announce this and have the world forgive you of your sins, but that transition from the software management quagmire in which you now live to a proper solution rests on your fucking shoulders. I hate your goddamn company and everything you've created, but because I want a better tool out there for my fucking users, I felt the need to give you some advice.

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