Official Support Destroys Choice

I’m going to say something you will most likely vehemently disagree with. (look at me using big words… Hopefully correctly…)

I love Internet Explorer.

Ok, maybe “love” is a strong word. Lets say I prefer to use IE. I just do. Maybe it’s my rebellious nature. How can I rebel to the most widely used (and somehow the most widely hated) web browser? It’s simple really, but not obvious to the typical computer user.

I work in technology and education. Whatever you hear about corporations needing IE for legacy applications is most likely true. However, try and find one educational website which actively supports IE and you will quickly and sorely be out of luck. They say their web applications and websites “should” work in any modern web browser. IE has been a modern web browser since IE9, supporting the newest HTML 5 and CSS 3 standards… right? So, what’s the problem?

The problem is that some web developer drank the Google cool-aide and began writing code which utilized Google API’s and the special way that Google’s Chrome browser engine handles the different HTML and CSS web elements. Then, he tested his web apps and sites in Chrome and it all works great. He used standard code, so the website should work well in any modern web browser… right?

Here’s my biggest peeve with this:  if all these educational websites officially support Chrome, redirect you to Chrome, ask if you’re having the same problems in Chrome, wonder if your organization could possibly switch to another web browser, such as, oh, I don’t know, there are so many, say, maybe,… Chrome, then is there really choice here?

Of course there is! The developers get to choose what platforms and browsers they support. But the end user, the consumer, does not get to choose. Unless you call barely getting to use a website and all of it’s features because you chose a web browser you like – whereas the website only technically runs properly in another browser – a choice. That’s a choice, right?

In essence what I’m trying to say is that while people like to choose what browser they use (or more specifically they want to use something else besides IE), in reality the developers have chosen which browser you will (or won’t) use because they officially support certain browsers over others. Choosing to use IE puts me in a place where some websites (especially all these educational websites) don’t function properly, or some of their features are useless. This isn’t IE or Microsoft’s fault. It is the fault of the web developers who choose to only support one web browser. Official support of web browsers – something, like the Internet, which is supposed to be about user preference, open to everyone, and standardized so the WWW works across the globe – essentially destroys choice. You want to use regular websites that claim to be accessible to everyone across the web? Better make sure you use the browser they chose for you.

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