Why I won't be using Internet Explorer 9

Is Microsoft's new release the latest and greatest? Not if you value your money, flexibility, security or performance

As is true just about any time Microsoft launches a new product, there's been no shortage of hype about Internet Explorer 9. And indeed, my PCWorld colleague Tony Bradley has no shortage of good things to say about the new browser.

I'm not so sure. Actually, I am sure -- that I won't ever be using IE9. Why? Four very powerful reasons.

1. The Treadmill

It's no secret that I am a Linux fan, but I recognize that the majority of the world still uses Windows. I myself dual-boot, in fact, so I am no stranger to Microsoft's dominant operating system.

But to exclude Windows XP, which according to Net Applications still accounts for more than half of the operating system market? That reeks of a hard sales tactic and fits right in with Microsoft's characteristic strategy of enforced, perpetual upgrades -- the "treadmill," as it's called.

Haven't paid the Microsoft tax recently? Well then no IE9 for you. Microsoft may say the move was necessary for functionality reasons, but the reality -- as usual -- is simply that you must pay out or shove off.

2. Vendor Lock-In

Even aside from the treadmill factor, I am irked by the fact that Microsoft won't extend its browser's support beyond the universe of its own products. Mac users, doesn't this bother you?

Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari don't seem to feel the need to stay exclusive to a single operating system, so why does Microsoft? For the answer, see point 1, above. If you don't want to live in an all-Microsoft, pay-the-tax-all-the-time world, Redmond hereby invites you to take a hike.

3. Insecurity

It may be true that the particular security flaws that caused IE8 to fall so quickly at Pwn2Own have since been closed, but Microsoft's track record on security doesn't exactly inspire confidence that IE9 is likely to be better in any better in any enduring way. Its much-touted anti-tracking technology, for example, has already begun to come under fire.

Of course, Windows' security is also woefully inadequate compared with that of Linux. Particularly now that IE9 is so tightly integrated with Windows, could it possibly compare with Google's Chrome in this respect? No way.

Part of it is the monoculture effect. Any technology that's used by the majority is going to be subject to more hack attempts, even aside from its inherent security. At the same time, how much of a majority IE9 can come to claim without support for any operating system other than Vista and Windows 7 remains to be seen.

Another part of it, however, is also the fact that Internet Explorer's code is closed, so all the many bugs and vulnerabilities that crop up are fixed only at Microsoft's leisure. With Firefox and Chrome, on the other hand, the code is being scrutinized and improved all the time.

4. Lackluster Scores

Some may tout IE9's "blazing performance," but the data really doesn't back that up. On the Acid3 test, for example, which measures conformance with Web standards, IE 9 scores far below Chrome 10, Opera 11 and Firefox 4, as noted recently by GigaOM.

Same goes on the HTML5 test and the Kraken JavaScript benchmark, in fact. What, exactly, is it that's supposed to be so blazingly awesome about IE9, then? Though it's from late 2009, a video on YouTube sums up the IE compliance situation nicely.

Bottom line? IE9 will be used primarily by the minority already on Vista and Windows 7, though Microsoft may even succeed in strong-arming an impressionable few to upgrade from XP just so they can. But it won't turn around Microsoft's slipping share in the browser market -- and it won't ever find its way onto my PC.

Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk .

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags browser bugsapplicationsbrowser securityMicrosoftbrowserssoftwaremicrosoft internet explorerInternet Explorerinternet

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?