How do you convince the average web user to switch to a non-IE browser?

As web designers and developers, we love to see how our sites and web apps look and function using a really good browser.

It’s true that with the release of IE9, Microsoft has made great progress in the so-called browser wars. And although IE9 is a fast and reliable browser that has pretty good support for CSS3 and HTML5, there are still quite a few missing technologies that we all would like to see in Internet Explorer soon.

But the reality is that while we as developers know that the user experience is greatly improved when a site is viewed in Chrome, Opera, Safari, or even Firefox, our users are not aware of this. And it’s sad to say that it will still be a very long time before developers can say that we’re happy with the state of browser usage stats for our client projects.

Personally, I always do what I can to promote the good browsers. If I see someone using an older version of Internet Explorer, I will gladly tell them to upgrade to the latest version of IE or try out something like Google Chrome instead.

I had this experience recently when I went to my friend Alex’s home for dinner. He was showing me some stuff on his computer on IE8, and I tactfully asked him if he’d ever tried Google Chrome. From there, things got interesting, and I decided to take some notes and share the experience.


“Why do you use Internet Explorer?”

One of the first things I did was ask Alex some questions about his feelings towards browsing the web, and the software he uses. I wanted to know exactly what he was thinking, and how he would feel about the possibility of accessing the web using a different piece of software. (Keep in mind that although I’m presenting the account below in dialogue, this is merely a paraphrase of our conversation, gleaned from my memory and the notes I took; Yes, I have an iPhone and I could have recorded this, but it was extremely informal and I didn’t even think much of it at the time).

“Why do you use Internet Explorer? Do you know that there are other options for browsers?”, I asked.

“No, not really. As far as I’m concerned, when I access the internet, I just need to click on the big blue ‘e’ and do a search. I don’t know why I would use anything else.”

“What does the ‘e’ stand for, Alex?”

“The ‘e’ stands for ‘internet'”, he replied.

The Big Blue 'e'
Why do otherwise intelligent people think the big blue “e” means “internet”?

At this point, it was clear that Alex does not understand the fundamentals of online technology and software.

I’m sure many web developers have had similar conversations with clients or friends who think the big blue “e” stands for “internet”–this despite the fact that they know that they’re using something called “Internet Explorer”. I knew this was going to be an amusing few minutes, so I started to probe further.


“Have you ever heard of Google Chrome?”

“No. What is it?”

“It’s another web browser, like Internet Explorer, except it’s faster and gives you a larger viewing area. Why don’t you install it and try it out?”

Alex complied with my request and he went through the steps of installing and testing Chrome. I eagerly watched and wrote down anything significant that occurred.

Downloading Chrome
Downloading and installing Chrome was pretty easy.

I helped him get to the Google Chrome download page, and he went through the steps. They’re pretty simple, so he didn’t have much trouble with that. When the installation completed, Chrome opened, and was ready to use. I didn’t say anything, just to see what he would do.

In his installation, there was a blank tab open and a message pointing to the address bar. The message explained that search terms could be entered directly into the address bar. Alex did not seem to notice this message. (As a side point here, when I re-installed Chrome to get these screenshots, I didn’t see that message, but that could be because I kept my browsing data intact upon uninstalling Chrome). To him, the message was like a banner ad; he ignored it, and (amazingly) went straight for the “x” in the top right corner, closing the browser. He obviously had no idea that Chrome had launched. He saw something new and assumed it had something to do with the installation process, and thought best to close it.

I directed him to his desktop to use the shortcut to reopen Chrome. I honestly think that if I had left him after he closed the window, he would have never found the shortcut himself and would have went straight for the big blue “e” instead, thinking that the “e” had now been upgraded to “Chrome”. But as things progressed, I was slowly beginning to realize it was actually worse than that.


“Web developers don’t like Internet Explorer”

Early in this process, I explained to him that web developers in general (unless they work for Microsoft) don’t like it when users view their pages using Internet Explorer. What was his response?

“I don’t use Internet Explorer; I use Google.”

Oh, dear.

I tried to explain why what he said was a non sequitur.

“Internet Explorer is a web browser; Google is a Search Engine,” I told him.

“You lost me.”

I couldn’t control my laughter. In his mind, there was no difference between a web browser and a search engine. This conversation was becoming eerily reminiscent of the now-famous YouTube video (see below) that shows people on the streets of New York City answering the question “What is a web browser?” The answers ranged from ridiculous to the almost incoherent. My friend Alex was (still is?) not much different, viewing “browser” and “search engine” as interchangeable terms.

Some of the answers given in the video include:

  • “A website you can search on.”
  • “A search engine.”
  • “It’s where you put your search terms.”
  • “Google.”
  • “The Yahoo!

Continuing with this theme of “browser = search engine”, at one point during my experience with Alex, I asked him to explain to me exactly what we were doing by installing Chrome. He told me that from his understanding, Chrome was a faster version of Google.

But Alex is not alone in viewing “browser” and “search engine” as interchangeable terms. According to the video, less than 8% of users interviewed on that day knew what a browser was. Having seen the video, my experience with Alex was amusing but really not that surprising. But we weren’t done yet.


“What do you think of Chrome?”

Having installed Chrome, I asked him to give me his opinion on it. He didn’t comment on the fact that it provided more screen real estate for viewing. He instead pointed out some of the “problems” that he noticed.

“Where’s the little arrow?” He asked.

“What arrow?”

“The little arrow that lets me view the different sites I’ve visited before so I don’t have to type them in again.”

Features Alex Likes in IE8
Alex likes certain things about IE8

“Oh, that arrow. Okay, fair point. What else?”

“I don’t see the search box in the top right corner. Where would I do my search?”

Alex knows (or at least, I assume he knows) that he could just go straight to and type his search terms. But he was accustomed to using the search box that appears by default in the top right corner of IE8, so he found this a bit disappointing.

I explained to him that when he had installed Chrome, there was a message that pointed out quite clearly that he could conduct all his searches straight from the address bar. He didn’t remember seeing the message, but was relieved to know that he could still search from the browser window without having to visit first.

For a few minutes we did some stuff using Chrome. We watched some videos, we did some searches. We were actually doing some legitimate stuff, not just browsing for browsing’s sake. He didn’t seem that impressed with the speed. He didn’t think there was much of a difference.

One thing that did happen was something that I personally find happens occasionally with Chrome: Once in a while a page will stop responding, and it will only start again if the page is refreshed. Usually when this happens, it’s an Ajax-based function that fails.

In the experience with Alex, it was a form function that was using Ajax to update some data. It wouldn’t respond (as it should have) to a button click, so I told him to refresh the page, after which it started working as expected. I admitted to him that while I did find Chrome to be overall much faster and more stable than Internet Explorer, this problem did occur on occasion.

That didn’t sit well with him, but I had to be honest. No browser is perfect, and this was unfortunately something from my own experience with Chrome. And the fact that it happened on Alex’s computer as well as on my own computer strongly suggests that it is a problem with Chrome (or at the very least, earlier versions of it).


“Have you heard of Firefox? Opera? Safari?”

When I asked him about other browsers like Firefox, Safari and Opera, the only one he had heard of was Firefox.

“Whenever I go on vacation and go to an internet cafe or something, there’s no big blue ‘e’, so I’m forced to use Firefox,” he explained.

I inquired further, because I knew he didn’t understand why that was the case.

“So why do you think they only have Firefox when you’re on vacation?”

“I don’t know, I just assumed that’s how people in those countries access the internet.”

Firefox overseas
Alex thought Firefox was the international version of the big blue ‘e’.

So in Alex’s mind, the orange and blue fox logo was the international equivalent to the big blue “e”. It was slowly becoming clear that the technologies we work with are not as user-friendly and understandable as we would hope.


“Would you consider using Chrome after this experience?”

When I was finished conducting my little impromptu user test, I asked him if he would seriously consider using Chrome from this point on for his day-to-day browsing. I further cemented the point that Chrome really was a superior browser, and that, if he switched, he would enjoy his experience on the web much more.

At that time, he wasn’t completely sure what he would do. He said he would consider it, but the problem we had with the page not responding properly was still holding him back from making any definite decision to leave Internet Explorer.


After a couple of weeks…

A few weeks after having this experience with Alex, I asked him if he had tried Chrome again. He said he did and he particularly liked the way that Chrome lets you search from the address bar, simplifying the process of visiting different sites. So it seems that he has warmed up to Chrome a little bit, and may end up using it regularly.


How can we improve education among average Web users?

For those reading this and wondering about Alex’s age and previous experience with computers, it’s actually not all that bad. Alex is in his late 30s and has been using PCs for years. He does photography as a hobby so he’s often on his computer organizing and editing his photos. He currently owns a desktop PC and a laptop, so computers are not something new or foreign to him.

I really don’t have any definite suggestions to help improve this situation, and I’m not even sure it can be improved. If younger generations still don’t understand the difference between “browser” and “search engine” or between “internet” and “web”, then it could be our education system that is to blame.

If the older generation doesn’t get it, then that could just be a result of people’s tendency to be “set in their ways”, as they say. Or it could just be that these technologies are built in such a way as to assume too much knowledge in behalf of the user. After all, how many people do you know that can’t tell you the difference between a TV set and a TV show?

Although I did in a very simple way express to Alex that websites will look and function better in Chrome than they would in IE8, I did not try to explain any specific reasons why (other than speed and screen real estate). If he can’t understand the difference between a browser and a search engine, then it’s extremely unlikely that a discussion of HTML5 and CSS3 would have any effect on him.

I think it was adequate enough to just explain that things work better and make some general statements about things he might be interested in. But who knows? Maybe something more specific would have helped. I suppose I could have shown him a website that uses CSS3 heavily and had him compare the experience.

But, in Alex’s own words, he just wanted to “get from A to B”. That is, he just wanted to get things done. So it was unlikely that he would be swayed by seeing rounded corners and drop shadows. Those things had nothing to do with why he was on the internet in the first place, so why should he care?


This was not a scientific study!

This was a one-off experiment, and nothing more. As web developers, I think in the backs of our minds we know this happens with many users. They don’t understand the internet and the web the way we do. This little experience with Alex just serves to illustrate this point, even if only in a superficial way.

Do you think this sort of thing is common with web users? Do you think even experienced web-savvy users have trouble understanding terms like “browser” and “internet”? What can we do to improve this situation?

This post was written exclusively for Webdesigner Depot by Louis Lazaris, a freelance writer and web developer. Louis writes regularly about front-end development on Impressive Webs. You can follow Louis on Twitter or get in touch with him through his website.

Have you ever tried to get a user to switch to a browser other than Internet Explorer? Share your experience in the comments.

  • espreson

    Microsoft should message out to not to use IE6 or IE7. at all or upgrade their browser to IE9.. Thats the best solution…

    • Marek Beniak

      IE9 works only on Vista or win7. And because of catastrophic fail of Vista many people still use WinXP and therefor have to stick with IE7 because they don’t know what Chrome or Firefox (won’t mention Opera) are. There are two things:
      1. How to tell them where the difference lies?
      2. Does it matter? While most developers are doing they’re best to make site look same in all browsers, it’s hard to ask the user to try something different. If sites wouldn’t be so pretty in IE7/6 the argument of “better browser” would have some point.

      • Ben

        “catastrophic fail of Vista” Are you kidding me? Vista was a huge step forward for Microsoft. I have used Vista for four years and absolutley love it. Granted, there were some driver compatilibility issues and other small issues when it first came out, but after SP1, it is just as great as Windows 7, which is just like Vista except for the added eye candy features.

      • Anonymous

        He’s probrably not kidding in my experience and many experiences of others. VISTA F*CKING SUCKED!

        I work as a tech, whenever a user brings in a Vista computer it’s garbage no matter what SP it’s on. It’s garbage.

      • Ben

        More than likely it was the user’s fault that the computer was junk, not Vista’s. No matter if it’s XP, Vista, or 7, the same problems can occur. (i.e. viruses, insufficient knowledge of memory management, or crapware)

      • Psyched.bE.Blog

        Still, Vista is … a pain in the … when compared to xp or windows 7 (even though indeed vista was a big step towards … another road…)… Either way, discussion is all about the browsers here and well… while not everyone is as tech savvy as the ones roaming round here should/would be, the ones that are (and might look for “extra’s” in the internet user experience) CAN be helped by showing alternatives to IE if they haven’t yet explored the possibility. However, as a community of developpers/designers we CAN push the tech savvy people of bigger browser supplying companies to start getting in line with the standards we like to use, ALL in favour of the users who will (even if it’s only on a subcounscious level), in the end have smoother graphics/videos/dynamic content … and a better experience overall, to them it does indeed not matter what browser they use for the moment, as long as they can find what they are looking for, and to be honest, the average twitter/facebook/netlog/myspace/… user is already happy quenching his/her thirst with the latest story among friends or “not so friends” on perhaps a “crappy looking” interface (i don’t like facebook :p). In the end content (whether brainless or not) is the main reason why people surf the net. So if we want things to look as we want it in IE, we’ll have to walk the extra mile… and if neither the client nor yourself gives a flying f, because the target public simply are the ones with the latest browsers installed, then just do whatever you want while ignoring transparant rgba colours/transitions/pseudo-hover states/etc… Either way, can’t wait for the day everyone complies, so we can discuss the next “big issue” ;)

      • Anonymous

        I’ve got to completely disagree. This isnt an isolated incident. We have had users with Vista on various machines (usually laptops) from Asus to Sony from SP none to SP2. In fact, fancy enough that I saw this reply today. A familiar tech colleague of mine posted that Vista was giving him crap wherever he is working at now.

        Secondly, I myself (and Im more competent than the run of mill users) had Vista installed on my older laptop and it was poor in performance, sluggish, and just a headache of course at the time I didnt realize this until 1) I had installed Linux as a dual boot and saw how fast my machine could be. 2) Later on removed Vista and installed Windows 7 on that former dual boot spot on the same system hardware.

        Suffice to say that Vista didnt get it’s reputation without reason. It’s garbage.

      • Ben

        I agree, Vista can be sluggish, but only if using 1 GB of ram or less. This applies to Windows Seven as well. My family has two Vista machines, one 32 bit with 2 GB of ram, and one 64-bit with 4 GB of ram. Both work flawlessly.

      • Ian Gibbs

        Indeed. There was nothing wrong with Vista other then public perception and a lot of manufacturer’s trying to sell ‘Windows Vista’ machines with vastly insufficient hardware. So many 512mb Vista machines from Dell…

      • Anonymous

        Not 100% true, we have a Dell laptop running vista – came with 2GB RAM and was upgraded to 4GB. Fully up to date. Piece of junk. Tons of programs malfunction on it, and have since it came out.

      • Peter Schreiner

        I had no issues with Vista. In fact the wife still uses Vista–with no issues.

      • Anonymous

        Have you even USED windows 7? I agree that it was a huge step for Microsoft, but one that its users were not ready for. Small issues? The thing hardly functions properly!

        “After SP1 it is just as great as windows 7.”

        You obviously have never used windows 7. Ever. And those compatibility issues and other small issues were never fixed. They were just covered up, which caused more issues.

        I can take a program, install it on XP, Vista, and 7, and the two it will work perfectly on are XP and 7. It will somewhat function on Vista, but improperly, and is almost unusable.

      • Ben

        Yes, I have used Windows 7. In fact, I’ve been using it for about a year now. When I first got it, I wasn’t that impressed, because many of the features it had were already present in Vista. Other than the aforementioned eyecandy and some performance improvements, in my opinion Se7en is essentially the same as Vista. Actually, I’ve had more issues with Windows Seven than Vista in the short time I’ve used it.

        “I can take a program, install it on XP, Vista, and 7, and the two it will work perfectly on are XP and 7. It will somewhat function on Vista, but improperly, and is almost unusable.”

        I installed over 190 programs on my Vista pc and all of them worked perfectly. With smart memory management, Vista can operate as fast or faster than Windows 7.

      • Robert

        Congrats. I installed over 400 programs on my win7 pc and all of them worked perfectly. Our vista laptop has less than 100 programs, and it does not work perfectly.

        Not long after logon, running 93+ processes on 2GB ram. Ram @ about 1GB, with System Mechanic Professional and Process Lasso to help with everything, including memory management. I can run System Mechanic and get it from almost full or full, to below 400MB. Of course, 64-bit systems work better anyway…

      • kev m☫

        Microsoft pretty much apologized for its atrocious version of windows, AKA Vista. They were so embarrassed by it they offered you a free copy of Windows 7 if you bought a computer between a certain amount of time.

        Simply put, Microsoft even agrees, Vista was a flop.

      • Marek Beniak

        @efreak:disqus Wow, what a discussion. I didn’t really mean to talk about Vistas failure. And I should say that I am OS X user. Still I had to deal with many Vista computers (office, mum, sister etc.). But I don’t mean the failure as a bad peace of OS (no matter how much I think it is).
        I ment it, because we had to start selling Vista PC with downgrade CD to XP, because people didn’t want Vista. Vista are clear fail, because Microsoft had to change support for XP for 10 more years. And if you look on numbers how many people use Vista, XP or 7 and compere it, Vista is clear fail.
        I am sure, that in concept, Vista is big step forward, but sometimes you just step in piece of smelly shit, no matter how far the step goes. Microsoft just had to make one more step for Win7 to have good functional OS.

      • Sean McCrory

        Windows 7 is just like Vista with added eye Candy?

        The Windows 7 Devs would be puking instantly on that comment. 7 was a major overhaul. Memory footprint has plummeted, reliability through the roof and compatibility increased even further. 7 is a feather, whilst Vista was a turkey.

  • Tom Waterhouse

    I find the easiest way to get people to switch browsers is to discuss how IE is targeted by hackers… Suddenly features and UI familiarities doesn’t matter so much!

    • Joshua Wilcox

      I agree. Explaining the potential security risks associated with out of date browsers (i.e. IE 6,7 and even 8) is usually pretty clear for most people.

      • Robin Thrift

        I agree, mentioning security and using IE (any Version) is a potentially risk. Works very well when the user does online banking. Talking about anything too techy will just make it sound to complicated an might turn the user away.

  • Rastislav Švarba

    I think I should explain my little brother difference between web, internet, browser and search engine :)

  • Carson Shold

    No doubt I agree that there are older, ‘worse’ browsers out there, but it is naive to think developers will ever be happy with the stage of browser support. As Marek states above, IE9 is not going to work on XP and XP is still the most common OS.
    Whenever this issue comes up, I always revert to something my mom says: “Why would I upgrade? All I do is check the weather and my email.” The average user does not care about CSS3, nor the way a website is built.
    There is an increasing sense of ignorance in the web community – or at least some kind of elitism. Rather than tell the end-user to upgrade to a better browser and operating system, we should do our job and cater to what the masses use.

  • Colin Wu

    What this story and the video shows so clearly is that people are not interested in the tools they use. They’re only interested in their experience (they’re searching for information, not looking at websites; they’re putting a piece of furniture together, not using a screwdriver, or even putting in screws); and until something shows that different tools can have an impact on their experience they will not care about the tools (e.g. power driver vs hand screwdriver).

    While most people know the difference between the TV and the TV show, how many really care what brand TV they watch the shows on? Until they see that one brand offers a better experience than another there’s no reason for them to care; and price may be part of that experience.

    The security issue is a huge and very real experience changer. While most people will not have experienced any security problems directly while using IE, they will have heard enough stories and maybe known a few people who have experienced them to have an understanding of the implications.

    Bottom line: to get people to change tools you must show how it will affect their experience.

    • Christopher Anderton-Blomqvist

      Most people work with computers and Internet in some fashion. It’s very strange that you are working with a tool (that’s what a browser is) that you don’t have a single clue about. It works! Yes, but take 2 minutes and learn simple things that a 3 year old could learn, and you will work better, and in fact take control over your tool.

      • Jeni Cecil Feeser

        @facebook-688343482:disqus I still don’t have a clue how I can type this on my laptop by tapping on a keyboard that doesn’t appear to be physically putting these letters on the screen I see in front of me. And then when I post this, it will somehow travel through “air” so fast that you could potentially be reading it only seconds later on the screen of your device (or listening through your screen reader). Perhaps as web designers, we need to consider guiding the end-user to a better understanding of the options they have at their fingertips to improve their web experience.

      • Christopher Anderton-Blomqvist

        Yes of course, and i do,keeping my own frustration aside. However, it feels like people don’t consider basic knowledge about things they use everyday important. That’s more sad than frightening.

  • DesignSlicer

    Microsoft should put a small popup that tells user to update their browser into future version of IEs. Or an automatic update of some sort.

    • Robert

      They already have the popup thing. They actually are encouraging that other web developers put it in their sites as well. (I’m not ;] )

  • Vitor Hugo Silva

    “…Windows 7, which is just like Vista except for the added eye candy features.”

    You Sir, are and idiot.

  • pattipdx

    My hubby will not switch. He was mad when i forced him to upgrade to IE8 from IE6. Most folks are unaware or unwilling to use another browser. Which is sad! I use Chrome exclusively.

    • Anonymous

      People are afraid to switch because each version is different and requires learning curve. Unless you hold some people by the hand to switch, they will not do it, because they dont know what will happen to their browsing history, all the saved/prefilled fields and passwords, and especially all those bookmarks.

      • Robert

        the learning curve is not large, they just don’t like change

  • Cindy

    If you want people to change browsers, talk to their kids. Its all about customization. I just show them how they can customize their browser with a theme and their sold.

    • Anonymous

      themes is gateway to all virus activity. First kids browse for themes in mozilla site. Then they get tired of it and start browsing outside where many of the theme sites are infested with some sort of malware, and bam here comes the virus knocking. Themes a bad idea.

      • Anonymous

        Not always. People like me end up fixing others’ computers that get the viruses, so it gives me something to do XD

        Joking aside, I do agree with you.

  • Shiva

    I have gotten into the practice of never using IE except to check on how my own website looks. However, now that I have went to Windows 7 64-bit, Firefox 4 and chrome crash so much that I’m about to go back to IE. I am extraordinarily not happy with Firefox, many of my plug-ins that say they are compatible do not show up after I upgraded to 4. While it certainly renders just fine and is relatively fast I find myself using chrome more often. I’m not sure if I have the nerve to go back to Internet Explorer nine and still see square corners

    • Anonymous

      IE9 is a very good browser. On my machine it has become a browser of choice. It launches faster, supports thumbbed preview from taskbar..etc

  • Jay V

    OK wait I’m confused now . . . .
    Regarding XP, they are doing the right thing not allowing it on XP because it’s time to get rid of that browser.
    . . . What exactly are you referring to? If IE7 is an outdated browser, now two versions old, I think Microsoft SHOULD allow it on that operating system. Then again, XP is also two versions old now, and they should probably stop supporting the entire OS soon.

  • Kayla Knight

    I was actually having a similar conversation earlier with someone about how our parents (or anyone from a generation above us) acts towards browsers. I remember trying to install Firefox once for my own use on my parent’s desktop, and my mom removed it right away, absolutely convinced it was ‘causing viruses.’ Not even sure where she got that–our computer had not gotten any sort of malware since its install, not that it would have been Firefox anyway.

    I believe people are just unsure of other alternatives, whether they understand what a browser is or not. I really hope more people begin using banners at etc. that detect IE (older versions) and prompt them to switch, letting them know they’re browser is outdated. If they begin to see directly that they can’t access several websites they want to, it may raise a red flag.

  • Anonymous

    Hurray, you converted one person. Dude, don’t waste your time converting the world, just stick with workable design principles and you’ll do fine.

  • Anonymous

    While this article did start out slagging IE8, it diverged into a much more interesting and nuanced piece about the fact that people have no idea what they are doing on their computers. Microsoft can defend itself without your help. And how should the anti-trust action have applied to Apple? Apple did not own 90% of the OS market. It is not a monopoly. I think IE9 is very nice, btw. About time Microsoft didn’t try to co-opt everything. MS will do fine when it learns to play nice.

  • Johannes Krogh

    I was trying to get my mom starting to use chrome on her laptop. I installed it, but shed still open IE, so i gave that up. Then I tried to make the rest of my family ditch IE for chrome, so I just removed IE from our computer and installed chrome :)
    Personally I have a macBook pro 13″ and use safari, but ocasionally chrome. I find flash crashing in Safari a lot. Maybe its just my mac..

    • Anonymous

      lol, that’s one way to do it XD

      I love Opera personally, and I have taken a liking to Maxthon. They are both faster than Chrome and Firefox on my pc. Of course, everything is faster than IE XD

  • Wendy Cockcroft

    Good post, particularly the parts about how people see browsers and can’t tell the difference between browsers and search engines. The fact is, IE is the default browser on most PCs, and people often don’t see the point of switching from one to another.

    I quit using IE when I found that it blocked me from getting onto some forums and let viruses and other malware on. I started with Firefox, tried Opera and Chrome, and now use Cometbird, a fork of Firefox. The trouble with Chrome is that it’s clunky in places and isn’t always compatible with Google applications such as Blogger (which is why I switched to Cometbird). IE9 is unavailable to me unless I buy Windows 7, and for that price I might as well buy a new computer. I don’t have these issues with other browsers, so I might as well keep the old relic for a while yet.

    I have since found that even IE8 blocks CSS gradients and javascript slideshows by default. You have to allow it after being warned that they are potentially malware, and it won’t accept CSS3 rounded corners, among other things. I hate it. If IE9 is a good browser, I may check it out when I finally get around to purchasing a new computer, but as it is, I’m sticking with Cometbird and trying to persuade people that other browsers are better than earlier versions of IE.

  • Peter Schreiner

    First exposure to Chrome… a Flop.

    A group of mucky-mucks from a newly acquired vendor was giving a presentation of their Portal at our warehouse. I, being in charge of anything technical, setup the projector and laptop. Started Chrome and hit their website so all will be ready for their arrival.

    A few reassurances later and they’re demonstrating the functionality of their site using Chrome. That is until we get to the order forms which didn’t work in Chrome. It still hurts, but I had to switch to IE. Chrome left an unfavorable impression on everyone. And it still receives the occasional jab.

    Their site and another that we deal with daily, simply don’t play well with anything other than IE. I don’t like it, but it’s the truth.

    Coincidently they both use ASP. I suspect there is where the problem lies.

    • Bill Addison

      This is likely due to the construction of the website, not the Chrome app. The fact that it’s built in ASP is a good clue as the website is based on a Microsoft technology and probably wasn’t tested in other standards-compliant browsers.

    • Robert

      If they had simply built the form in HTML, JavaScript, PHP, etc. there would not have been a problem. The reason asp works in IE is because it belongs to Microsoft. Web Developer problem, not browser problem.

    • Peter Schreiner

      @billaddison:disqus @4554da4556390e28c7edd02721ab0c64:disqus @Soulflare3:disqus While proper coding may well have solved the incompatibility issue. It is is the perception of these non-technical users that now view Chrome as an inferior browser. They see this as IE’s superiority since their site doesn’t work with Chrome.

      That’s a perception that’s hard to convince otherwise.

      What’s my argument? “Chrome is the better browser… it just doesn’t work on your site.”

      As an aside: I still use Chrome where I can on their site. You might find it humorous to know that whenever there is a Excel spreadsheet to download it doesn’t open in Excel, it opens in Dreamweaver as an ASP page.

      • Robert

        @CrowDogs:disqus I can agree with that. I also do find it humorous that it opens in dreamweaver. Not so much that it opens as an asp page, but the fact that it opens in dreamweaver. I’ve never heard of dreamweaver doing that! ;)

      • Bill Addison

        This really bugs me, but you’re right. I’ve had the exact same experience here in Brazil. Many sites here run on ASP and for one reason or another only seem to work in IE browsers (must be something to do with Microsoft ASP and IE compatibility). Brazilian development in the past has been extremely geared towards Microsoft platforms.

        In any case, I’m shocked that website owners even for large websites here simply don’t test their websites on anything else other than IE. Like the article points out, it makes the shift for everyday users almost impossible to another browser.

  • Anonymous

    I am also a web developer, and while I agree that IE9 is “nice”, most features that it only recently aquired have been in other browsers for YEARS (such as Opera, Chrome, and Maxthon)

    Want more secure? Use something other than IE, and you INSTANTLY have more secure. IE is definitely not up to par with Opera or Maxthon, and is EXTREMELY sluggish compared to either.

    Also, Some people do not like automatic browser upgrades, and MS is too stingy to allow that anyway. Ever hear of Window Update? Otherwise you’re stuck installing it manually.

    Also, they could have kept XP. There was no real reason for them not to. The ONLY reason they dropped it, is because of money. They make BILLIONS every time they release a DIFFERENT OS. Perfect incentive for them NOT to keep XP.

    Haven’t you ever noticed that websites look better in every OTHER browser than they do in IE?

    • Ian Mitchell

      Robert, you should do some research. They didn’t support XP for a variety of reasons, which are well documented and available with a simple google search. Direct2D is one of the main reasons; XP doesn’t support it, while Vista and 7 do.

      • Robert

        What, so you really think Microsoft is going to take the time to completely re-write Windows? All they are going to do is change some features, add some features, remove some features, add more restrictions, and change the image files that are displayed as the GUI. Again, it comes back to money. As soon as sales start to decline, they get ready to release a new version.

        Why is it not supported? They weren’t getting enough money any more.

        The “Not supported” excuse does not work. ALL an Operating System is, is a piece of software that runs other pieces of software. THAT’S ALL. How do you add new features? You release updates. How do you make money? You don’t update it forever and eventually stop, and then release a new one, which you will update. Then you repeat.

      • Matthew Morek

        I think you’re missing the point of updates and upgrades, that includes browsers as well. The only purpose of developing newer version of a certain software product (regardless of kind) is better stability, experience, performance, usability – stuff that lets you perform your day to day tasks more efficiently. Why Chrome has updates every 6 weeks to a new major version and doesn’t change much in terms of interface? Because of underlying features. This is seamless update and we seem to like it. The same thing goes for Firefox. Or for Ubuntu. Oh, wait… And for every other piece of software people make.

        Windows (and MS) is no different. The difference is that they supply a superior OS (yes it is superior due to unbeatable support [drivers] for vast number of devices) that works on almost every piece of hardware you’re going to put it on. I’ve put it on my sister’s 6yo PC with 512mb of ram and it worked better than XP. The reason for MS to release new version of the system is purely technological advancement. Win7 brought so many usability features that improve workflow comparing to XP and Vista that it’s really hard to mention them all even in a separate article. But just for the sake of argument: you can pin apps to taskbar, rearrange them as you please, the same for favourite places in Windows Explorer, better tray notifications management, seamless updates, better search and window management (ever tried to snap windows using Winkey + arrows?). The list can go on and on, so please stop saying that MS is releasing OSes for the sake of money only as it seems that you don’t know squat about Os development process.

  • Nope

    Here’s an easy way of convincing them to switch, show them private browsing/incognito mode and tell them what it does. That should get them in a heartbeat.

    • Robert

      IE has that as well…

  • Ivan Zidarov

    Internet Explorer …. Good Lord where do I begin to Curse!

  • Laura Moser

    About a year ago I had a computer service repair man working on my laptop and he was like Why do you use FireFox… he was a IE user through and through… I was sort of shocked.

    This article is hilarious, but somewhat eye openning. Who knew that people were viewing browsers as search engines….

    Though… I once told my mom she needed to close a window, her response : What’s a Window?

    Something does need to be done about Basic Computer education.

  • Anonymous

    That’s fun I have this kind of conversations almost weekly with a friend. I don’t understand why he use IE, because Chrome or Firefox is 200% better than IE.

    I’m a designer and developer and I absolute hate Internet Explorer.

  • Twinkling82

    I’m considering making the same request.

  • Yashwanth Bm

    really good post….cool.

  • Espo

    late to the party…how about instead of trying to convince users to switch from IE you write an article about trying to convince “average designers and developers” to stop b1thc1ng and do their job. It really, really is NOT hard to make a site that functions and displays similarly (except, of course, IE6…which is dead if you hadn’t heard).

    Do your job and stop complaining.

  • Gregor Colnik

    Great article, had a laugh. :D

  • Muhammet Tutcugil

    Nice post
    i tried once but they are so stubborn but at last i changed their browser to opera and firefox

  • zeit geber

    Most users use IE for 8hrs a day, 5 days a week, in the office behind the corporate firewall.

    It’s they only browser endorsed by corporations who don’t know any better.

  •çois-René-Müller/100000594930794 Jean-François René Müller

    I always have Problems getting things done in Internet Explorer, even in the “new” IE9. So I’m always trying to convince people to use a MODERN browser. Do so as well and share this one!

  • John Lewis Sales

    i9 still sucks firefox is always ahead in coming up with much better browser

  • Marco aurelio Campos

    it’s commonly this way the things happens with users, the biggest problem we get is that the average user (if this thing exists) don’t care or need too much, he just need to get from A to B.
    In an analogous way, is the diference betwen using a simple text editor and a IDE to do our jobs, both do the same, one in a simplistic and more objective way, and other in more robust way, for example, to my dad who don’t know exactly what i do, it’s all the same. I try to see the users who i design for in this same way as i see my dad.

  • Kelly Gibson

    I switched to Firefox a couple of years ago when I started playing around with my own website. It was recommended to me because of the developer tools available. Now I use IE at work, because Oracle won’t use Firefox, but I use Firefox at home. I’ve heard about Chrome’s issues so haven’t tried it yet. It took a minute to get used to Firefox but I’ll never go back to IE voluntarily.

  • Natasha Coe

    I had no idea that people were still this uneducated. I stopped using Internet Explorer when Firefox came out, and I stopped using Firefox shortly after Google Chrome came out.

    Just, wow.

    • Natasha Coe

      BTW, I’m not a web developer or anything like that. Just a kid who grew up with a computer.

    • Robert

      I stopped using IE when I discovered Opera XD
      I like FF, but I always have performance issues with it. Not nearly as bad as IE tho XD

  • Dain Miller

    Excellent post! And quite hilarious if I might add. I love the way you used a RL experience as the inspiration for this. I enjoy Google Chrome, but when testing I have to use all browsers and boy do I hate IE. EVERYTHING is off in IE by a little bit, it takes so much testing and changing specific tables and css to get it looking right. Nothing is worse for a web designer than IE.

  • Natasha Coe

    So untrue. Most people that I know (in their 20’s) know and care about the differences. The only people I have encountered that don’t know about that stuff are the kids that, for whatever reason, didn’t grow up with a computer and internet, or are 30+.

  • Dain Miller

    Sorry but I completely disagree with both the fact that the article was ‘biased’ and that IE9 is the best browser. In fact, I think that is so ridiculous that it is almost hard for me not to write something intensely critical of your post. I really do respect your thoughts tho.

  • Jeff K

    When I set-up my mother-in-law’s new laptop I installed Chrome and replaced the “blue e internet button” with Chrome. I told her that I “gave her a faster Internet, it has a new icon” and she doesn’t even realise that it is not Internet Explorer. I’ve tried explaining but it really is simpler to just swap the buttons and say the icon has changed ;)

  • Janzell Jurilla

    In my opinion, we can’t still force other users in not using IE Browsers unless that user is intermediate or advance Internet users. Many users are too lazy to update their browsers, what important to them is that they can search no matter what search engine they use.

    As long as they can get result their ignorance doesn’t matter.

    • Robert

      AutoUpdate FTW

  • Ian Mitchell

    I just run the automatic update on a windows machine, and that installs IE9. Problem solved.

  • Toby Nutter

    I frequently just install Firefox on PC users computers and then tell them to use that rather than IE, often hiding IE form them. This has worked for my mother and girlfriend so far.

    I also like how the ads for IE9 say “The internet is now officially full on” as if FF, Safari and Chrome were just beta testers.

  • Grzegorz Widla

    Steffen, that’s great they did but tell me, does anyone outside web development or web design world knows even about those pages? I mean, does Microsoft did any marketing related stuff for people to notice? When IE 8.0 was launched, they bought thousands of banners around cities of the world just to say how secure it was (not). Now it’s time for them to fix their stupidity and do the same saying go for IE 9.0, older versions are dead – not only IE 6.0 – it’s ridiculous that there are people still using it. Thankfully it’s mainly China and I do not target this market.

  • Tariq Kerimov

    I use Ubuntu (upgraded to 11.04) and Canonical while i was using previous version, Canonical hadn’t upgraded to firefox 4. So, i started using Chromium. After upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04, Chromium started acting exactly like you stated here (in Alex’s computer); it doesn’t respond to a button click, i have to refresh the page, to get it started working as expected. I returned to Firefox (Btw, it’s upgraded to 4.0 in latest Ubuntu distibution, you know..) and it’s much better than Chromium; by all means. I have a bunch of extensions installed and it’s almost as fast as chromium despite them. To say that, it’s not your rotten luck, Chrome/Chromium really got some issues :)

    And yes, i’ve tried to switch my friend to Chrome (from IE). Since that time, he’s still using it and i’ve never saw him using IE again. And to add another; after Firefox released 4.0, i orientated my another friend to upgrade it and he liked it too and he’s still using it (of course!:). I explained him what “app tab” is (& he said “i should use it for youtube”) and yes, it come to my mind just now, i showed him firefox theme gallery and installed a theme too (it was Adriana Lima theme btw, he wanted some nasty stuff :D). Wow, i’ve ‘talked’ too much. Before i forget, let me tell you that the friend of mine which i guided to install Chrome doesn’t use the address bar for searching too, he haven’t got used to search through the adrees bar, despite my insistent usage (when i show him some stuff on his computer on Chrome).

    In my opinion, if we really want to induce someone to switch to another browser, we ought to “know” that browser; at least, better than any average user. So we can offer “something better” to them.

    Last, apologies for my inadequate English. It’s not my native language and i can’t speak fluently in English. I hope i’ve made myself clear :)


    reading this article makes me feel very proud, I just “made” my dad switch from IE to Chrome and he said “wow, it really loads faster”!

  • Robert

    My only problems with Java are that it takes forever to start (on every pc I have ever used), and that if the program gets too large, it lags insanely. I will say that you can create some really cool things in Java, but it is becoming less and less realistic, just like Flash.

  • Robert

    Microsoft only won the browser war because it came and still comes preintalled on Windows, the most popular operating system in existence. I agree with you that it has to be broken, and with the growing popularity of other browsers, it is working. It’s just that IE is so embedded into peoples minds becauase it’s been here for a long time.

  • David Ballard

    You need to frame the loss… what will they miss if they don’t use an alternate to Internet Explorer. People are more apt to stop a loss than “gain” something.

  • Shane Hudson

    This is absolutely terrifying… I was not sure whether to laugh, shiver or go into a corner to weep and die!

    I really really really hope that your friend was a very stupid person of which one one exists. But sadly I know a few identical :(

  • Anonymous

    I can shed a little light here – the simple fact is that people don’t realise that SOFTWARE is required to view the internet. The blue e is simply the magical gateway into the internet. They don’t comprehend that the internet is comprised of regular files that are downloaded onto the computer and then interpreted in the browser.

  • Shelby

    1. You took notes of your friend’s responses?

    2. Whenever your friend is using a browser you dislike, you bug them until they try out one you approve of?

    3. Do you have any idea how arrogant you are?

  • vanessa.dc

    I use Windows and have used Firefox since 2003. My not using Google Chrome (or other browsers) is preference not ignorance. Don’t care for IE and never use it. Google/Products are very good at what they do. In many respects have no competition, but I always find in using too much of their products– too controlling. I do agree people need to find another browser than IE for more reason than I can list. Great article and helpful but singing Google Chrome’s praises— a bit much.

  • Michael Tuck

    Chrome does not work well on XP, which is a huge reason why it isn’t my default browser (I use Opera).

  • M Haidar H

    After read that, I’m sure I’m not the only one who deal with those crazy things from the client.

  • Chris Marsh

    This post suggests to me that ‘ordinary’ users aren’t particularly swayed by the things web developers are: faster loading, drop shadows, and so on. So the emphasis should, I think, be less on whether users switch to a ‘superior’ browser and more on progressive enhancement, making sure users of IE still have a user experience but offering as much as we can with CSS3 and HTML5.

    Unless users are given a solid reason for upgrading their browser, other than “It’s a better browser”, they will be happy with what they are used to and what works OK for them.

  • Sebastian Rasch

    Seems Alex is a dumbass.

  • bassentfisal

    i think your way teaching alex is convenient for wide range of users .. i think we should make simple demos teaching differences between ambiguous things, publish .. what do you think?


    This article is so true. We can’t have the same approach cause some people have too heavy habits, but for open minded users, we (IE “Nooooooo it isn’t”

  • Sebastian Rasch

    We’re called “Nerds”, not “us people”. And it’s the arrogance that makes us so shiny and amazing. :D