A Story About Browsers

I’m sometimes asked what browsers do I use and why. I use Firefox and Chrome, 95% of the time, and IE for those few Microsoft sites that are specially designed to work only with IE. Here is a story that shows an argument why I use those two.

A few days ago I used my father’s laptop to do some web browsing. My father is not a computer specialist, but he knows how do use a computer for basic stuff like writing documents, browsing the web or downloading pictures from his digital camera. His laptop runs Windows XP and he had IE 6. Seeing that I though that’s so 2006. So I decided to upgrade that to IE 8. While IE8 was downloading I also decided to download and install Chrome for my own use. It took about a minute to download and install it. I was already surfing the web with Chrome by the time IE8 had done downloading.

Next step was to start the installer, but surprise, IE8 was requiring .NET 3.5 SP1. This was only 56MB or something so it didn’t take lot of time to download (but this could be very different in other geographical locations), however I thought that was a prerequisite whose purpose I don’t necessary see. So I started to install it and surprise: I got an error message that .NET 2.0, which was already installed, could not be uninstalled because it was not found. After some failed re-attempts I decided to uninstall .NET 2.0 manually and it worked well. However, running the .NET 3.5 SP1 setup again ended with the same error. So I decided to try .NET 3.5 without SP1. After a longer download the setup ran into the same error. Next, I downloaded .NET 3.0 and tried to install, but with the same error. At that point it was quite clear to me that there was something wrong with the uninstallation of .NET 2.0. After reading reports of similar problems on the web and without any suggestion being actually helpful I decided to download version 2.0 of the framework. Its setup allowed me to Uninstall or Repair and I chose to Uninstall. It said everything was OK so I tried 3.5 SP1 setup again, and this time it worked! Finally I was able to start the IE8 installation and it required to download and install a few updates and a couple of Windows restarts, and eventually it was up and running, one hour later after starting!

So my question to Microsoft is: how do you expect someone without good knowledge about computers and software installation be able to go through such a scenario? Chrome installation worked gracefully with 3-4 clicks and in less than a minute I was able to use it already. IE8 requires lots of updates and prerequisites like .NET and restarts and God forbids something goes wrong, you’re lost in installation. If the installation doesn’t work, you don’t have a product!

This is one reason (and definitely not the most important one) I prefer Firefox and Chrome over IE.

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