One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Today I went to Internet Explorer’s website to “get the facts” on why I should upgrade my “old Firefox” to IE8, when I came across this gem on the MythBusting page:

Internet Explorer 8 has much more functionality than other browsers, and its functionality is there from the moment you open the browser. Internet Explorer 8 offers almost all of the features the most popular add-ons in Firefox have, and you’re able to personalize your browser in a way that saves you time and research.

As someone whose job is working with Firefox Add-ons every single day, you can imagine my shock when I learned that IE has almost all of the features of our top add-ons built right in! I did some research trying to figure out how this could have happened, and realized that, like much of the “Get the Facts” section, it is completely untrue.

Let’s take a look at the top 15 most popular add-ons in Firefox, as listed on the Firefox Add-ons site:

Add-on name Functionality Functionality built into IE8?
Adblock Plus Ad blocking No
FlashGot Download Manager No
Video DownloadHelper Video downloading No
NoScript JavaScript blocking No
DownThemAll! Download Manager No
Greasemonkey Website customization No
Personas for Firefox Lightweight themes No
Firebug Web development tool Kinda?
IE Tab IE rendering YES!
Cooliris Image Browser No
Download Statusbar Download Manager No
Autopager Pagination Tool No
AnyColor Lightweight themes No
Xmarks (formerly Foxmarks) Bookmark Synchronization No
Flagfox Web server info No

I’m not convinced that two out of fifteen top Firefox add-ons being natively supported in IE8 should be considered “almost all”. However, if you’re interested in the add-ons that provide IE’s functionality in Firefox, take a look at these collections of add-ons that bring things like accelerators and web slices to Firefox.

IE8 is certainly leaps and bounds better than IE6, but neither claiming to support nor actually supporting the functionality of Firefox’s top add-ons is the best way to compete with Firefox’s add-ons ecosystem. Web slices sound delicious, but my personal opinion is that most new features of web browsers today should be implemented as add-ons and not as core features. That’s not to say I think Firefox is there, but I think we’re going in the right direction. As we like to say, one size doesn’t fit all.

  • Nice table. Their statement was complete BS.

  • Oh snap!! Great post.

  • Oh snap!!

    Aww, I came here to post that.

    Nice work though, fligtar.

  • Another interesting thing to note is that if it really does contain ‘all those features’, are they not admitting to bloat-ware? I don’t want everything and the kitchen sink in my browser, which is why I *choose* browsers like Safari and Firefox over IE8. It makes them faster. 🙂

  • Andrew S

    False advertising anyone? Absolute scum they are.

  • Hahahahaha! IE rocks.

  • “Knowing the top speed of a car doesn’t tell you how fast you can drive in rush hour. To actually see the difference in page loads between all three browsers, you need slow-motion video. This one’s also a tie.”

    Wait… what?!

    1) “Knowing the top speed of a car doesn’t tell you how fast you can drive in rush hour.”
    a) It does if your car only goes 2mph.
    b) If browsers were cars and rush hour was 6-8pm on Comcast, then Microsoft are saying the top-speed of your browser is not important when network traffic sucks. Actually it matters more because a browser is an interface and not a delivery method, and the quicker your interface can display the information the better the experience in a slow environment.

    2) “To actually see the difference in page loads between all three browsers, you need slow-motion video.”
    a) So THAT’S how Microsoft are measuring the speed of their browser… video!!! Explains a lot.
    b) No. You do not need slow-motion video. You need to use high resolution timer functions, which IE does not have.
    c) Didn’t they ever think of loading the same page 10,000 times to check the diff? Oh… crash!

    3) “This one’s also a tie.”
    a) It’s only a tie in your mind. You can take that to mean whatever you wish.

    I wonder if they actually did any testing. From the sound of it… they loaded in IE and said… “Oh that was quick!” and then closed IE, opened Firefox, and loaded again… and said… “Oh that was quick too!”… and after doing the same thing with Chrome, they decided they were all so damn quick to load… that they got a video recorder to time the difference. Upon finding a 25-frame difference in the video-footage when slowing it down, -they failed to realize that each frame was approximately 33 milliseconds, which means their load time was slower by almost a whole second. If you visit only 1,000 pages a day, that’s 16 minutes of your day spent waiting for a browser that was designed to load like a traffic-jam.

  • AndersH

    > my personal opinion is that most new features of web browsers today should be implemented as add-ons and not as core features.

    I agree. As an example, I found it strange that the new location bar wasn’t an add-on (installed by default). I seem to remember that one of the thing that was touted when IE was released was that it was build using com-components that could be reused and upgraded. If you squint, you might say that add-ons was taking this further and adding upgrade functionality and letting the user, not only the original developer, replace the components.

  • I think you’re generous giving IE 2/15.

    I’d give them a yes for Firebug – although the functionality is not exactly the same they are similar tools and both have their advantages.

    But I’d change the definition of IE Tab to “Supports use of competitor’s rendering engine”, for which they would get a no.

  • @AndersH re: new features as add-ons….

    I wondered if you feel this way about features like , and too?

  • oops tags got stripped… i meant to say “audio, video and canvas too”

  • This is hilarious! Great post.

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