"Browsers are lousy in terms of supporting the various specifications people have published that define useful things web developers want and need to do. This has numerous effects:
- It slows down and frustrates web developers.
- It raises the costs of web development.
- It makes some things impossible.
"All of these are pretty bad for web developers, but they have knock-on effects that end-users suffer from, but don't understand. For example, when was the last time you ran across a bug on a website? Did you ever consider that a web developer would have got around to fixing it before you had trouble with it if he hadn't been busy trying to work around a bug in Internet Explorer?"
"The Acid2 test is merely a collection of all kinds of ways in which browsers screw up support for particular specifications. The idea is that it contains lots of things that browsers get wrong which cause hassle for web developers, and that browser developers can use it as a check-list for bugs. It's also a gimmick to raise awareness for these bugs to put pressure on the browser developers to fix them."
The more browsers that pass the Acid2 test, the better support there is for web developers. The better support there is for web developers, the higher the quality of the work they put out. And you, as an end-user of that work, benefit."
Reader AK Marc griped that "Opera gets no respect," despite seemingly good showings when stacked up against other popular browsers, writing
"I like Opera. I use Opera. I read the comparison, and Opera looks to come out favorably. Then I read the comments. Firefox compared to IE, again and again. Reasons why Firefox is better. Reasons why IE is better. Reasons why more people use IE. But there are fewer comments on Opera. I can't understand why. It has lots of things that Firefox needs extensions for built right in (and without significant differences in resources), and some things, like bittorrent support, that aren't available in any extension. It has better standards compliance than the other two. It has Widgets (like extensions) if you want to expand it more. But yet, a 3-way comparison is treated as a 2-way comparison. I thought this would be more of an eye opener, 'Wow, I didn't know Opera did all that and did it better than the other browsers!' But instead, the comments read like the posters glanced at the IE and Firefox pages of the article (if they read it at all) and hopped right back on the IE vs Firefox war. I find it sad that a competitive browser receives to little consideration, especially from a group that is supposedly early adopters.""
"Me, too," wrote reader lee1. "I think there is a reflex to ignore Opera because for so long it was pay- or ad-ware."
Reader bartkusa also spoke up for Opera
"Opera's UI is extremely customizable [opera.com]. Skinnable interface and lots of flexibility with toolbar and button placement, on the output side. On the input side, you can set up your own keyboard shortcuts and mouse gestures if you don't like the default ones."
Dan East pointed out a glitch in the linked story as originally displayed:
"Their memory usage charts cannot possibly be right:
- Memory Usage Loading Six Tabs
- Firefox 2 Beta 1: 73K
- Internet Explorer 7 Beta 3: 70K
- Opera 9.0: 52K
- IE 6.0: 155K
- Firefox 188.8.131.52: 56K
A single image on one of those pages could require more RAM than what the entire program is consuming. That's way, way off. What's even more amazing is, going by their charts, Opera actually consumes LESS ram with 6 pages loaded than when it first starts up! 53k -> 52k"
Reader dtfinch had another complaint: "The "Features at a Glance" table is very inaccurate with respect to Opera. For one, Opera has very good theme support."
Several readers offered rationales for the continued popularity of Internet Explorer; among these, according to reader chiller2, is better printing support compared to Firefox.
"e.g. In Firefox the scaling to fit the page just squeezes the content between wider margins rather than actually scaling the pages.
"Just yesterday a work colleague was trying to print off a page that was split horizontally into two frames. The top one had a company logo, and the lower one the table of figures she actually wanted. Printing normally just output the first bit of the lower frame. I had to view that frame only to get the full table in the frame to print."
LWATCDR piles on the Explorer complaints, writing "It seems like a good number of people use Firefox now. So unless you want to exclude 1 out of 10 users from your site can not support just IE. I will not due business with a company that has an IE only site. Now the rub is this. IE doesn't support current standards. Yes, web developers have every right to complain about Microsoft ignoring standards and making their life more complicated. Because of IE I can not use PNG files with an alpha channel on websites I design.
"Just because most people use junk that is no reason to
a. Not tell them that is junk.
b. Try to get the producers of said junk to make it better.
c. Try to get people to use a better product."
Yvan256 raises the interesting point that as Windows changes, whether a browser is backward compatible makes a difference:
"Will Internet Explorer 7 run on Windows 95/98/ME/NT4? If not, then MSIE7 won't be ... And with Nintendo going with Opera for both the Nintendo DS and the Wii, Opera's marketshare might soon explode beyond 1-2%. Just keep that in mind before jumping into the 'MSIE7 has nice proprietary features' train."
Reader El_Muerte_TDS asks just what a "Favorites button" is, asking "Is it like a bookmark button?" To this, readers responded that "favorites" (in Internet Explorer) are equivalent to "Bookmarks" in most other browsers.
Blimey85 asks "What about extensions?," arguing that "Comparing stock Firefox with anything [isn't] very relevant. You need to compare Firefox loaded with some extensions to show the true power of the platform. Same with the other browsers and their add-ons or widgets."
"One example of not doing this is in the feature comparison table where it says that Firefox can't remember open tabs for the next session. My copy of Firefox not only does that when I want it to, it also has crash recovery so when I restart I can choose to reopen all of the tabs or not."
Yvan256, among others, thinks this is a double-edged sword: "The problem with Firefox is the extensions. People want a good browser, not fiddle around hunting for what exists. Power users do that, sure, but not regular users."
Reader Tet took issue with the reviewer's assertion that "the address bar is for URLs, not searches."
"I couldn't disagree more. One of the things that kept me with the original Mozilla suite for so long, rather than switching to Firefox was the ability to trigger a search from the address bar. Now that Firefox can do the same (and not waste screen real estate with an unnecessary extra box), I've switched. What do you possibly gain by having a separate search box? I just don't get it."
Reader GigsVT explained the appeal that a separate search bar has for him, though:
"If I have a host named "porn" on my network, and I type "porn" into the address bar, I better damn well get the host I want and not some search. We have a host named "pegasus" and I can't tell you how many times I've been to the pegasus mail web site and didn't want to be."
Thanks to all the readersa who took part in this conversation, especially those quoted above.