Internet Explorer Is Still the Browser We Love to Hate

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We gave Internet Explorer a chance after coming across this actually funny, actually hip ad campaign from Microsoft called "The Browser You Love(d) to Hate," but we still kind of hate it. In a pretty endearing way, using charts and YouTube videos, the campaign acknowledges the bad reputation IE has gotten itself over the years. But, it argues, IE 9 is on the verge of a comeback. (Even though the Beta version debuted way back in September 2010?) It's quite convincing and entertaining. So convincing and entertaining that we decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, the product doesn't win our hearts. 

This blogger's browser of choice is Google Chrome. It's sleek and it works for a heavy browser user, who accrues hundreds of tabs in multiple windows, all day, every day. And, apparently a lot of people agree with that assessment since Chrome (just briefly) surpassed Internet Explorer as the most used browser on PCs -- pretty impressive considering it debuted 13 years after IE. But, perhaps the new IE does the job even better than Chrome and I've been blinded by marketing and years of browser scorn? That ad campaign sure made it seem like that might be the case. But, no. Though IE does have some nice features, like the way it handles Flash (Chrome has Flash-crashes daily) and its use of the address bar as a Google search portal. But those advances still don't make it lovable. Here's why:

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Internet Explorer just does not have the same tab capabilities as Chrome. On my Chrome at this very moment, I have 21 tabs open, each with their site's corresponding icon visible, not a single one obscured by anything at all. Internet explorer maxed out at 11 tabs (11! That's a joke number!) before hiding tabs behind a scroll feature. 

Placing the tabs next to the address bar like that not only makes things look very cluttered, it actually becomes cluttered. Instead Chrome puts them above. Not to say the Chrome experience is perfect, at around tab 37, the Chrome tabs lose their useful icon indicators, making it very hard to tell which site is which, as you can see from all the question marks below. But, 37 is still greater than 11, so Chrome wins. 

IE also doesn't have the tab search function, which allows users to search within sites by just pressing tab -- a small feature that takes moments off of Web surfing, something this harried blogger appreciates. 


It felt like it took a very long time for those 11 tabs to open on IE, much longer than it does on Chrome. And LifeHacker confirms our anecdotal evidence. In a speed comparison test Chrome won a tab loading contest, besting all other competitors including Internet Explorer 9. Those same tests also had Chrome besting IE in boot-up and JavaScript run-time. Chrome got an overall higher score. 

New Window Syndrome

IE's coolest feature is "site pinning," which allows users to take a favorite site and pin it to the Windows taskbar. Just one click and a favorite oft-visited site, like The Atlantic Wire, opens up an Internet Explorer window. Very cool, easy and fast. The only problem is that say someone has two favorite sites, like The Atlantic Wire and The Atlantic, each pin opens those sites in a new tab. So, this feature only has a benefit for one site. After that, it makes more sense to bookmark all other sites. And, speaking of bookmarks: IE does not default show the "favorites toolbar," which also adds a little confusion for first-time bookmarking. Though, after tooling with some settings, a bookmark bar shows up.

With its new, less cluttered (more Chrome-esque) look and fun ads, we can say we do love Internet Explorer a little more than before. But, there's only room for one browser in our hearts. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.