Internet Explorer 6 is an... interesting web browser to say the least. It is bundled with Windows XP. I have read reviews stating that it is definitely more buggy than IE 5.x, which seems to be down to the introduction of new 'marketable'* features. No tangible features or improvements are added to the core functionality of the program, which remains virtually identical as it has been in since v4.0 (circa 1998). The toolbar graphics have been changed (to make them look more like Mozilla or Neoplanet, seemingly) but this might be an effect of Windows XP rather than the browser itself. Sorry to be vague, but I use it little at work and don't even have it installed at home.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about IE6 (apart from the two most glaring standards compliance issues I have encountered, listed below) is that is can apparently run on a 486/66 with 16 megs of RAM. The recommended spec is a Pentium III class machine with 128 megs of RAM.

IE 6.0 includes:

  • Auto image resizing
  • New privacy features
  • Increased stability (it says here)
  • An error reporting feedback tool (a la Netscape 4.x)
  • Flashing white or flickering between page loads, a la Mosaic.
  • Lots and lots of security holes
  • A right-click context menu with 'Open' as the top item
  • 'Lying' progress bars to confuse less computer-literate users
  • 'HTML-ised' error pages as a gift to script kiddies**

IE 6.0 does not include:

From this information we can deduce that the main, and in fact only, party whose wishes are catered for by IE's developers are the spam/advertising lobby. The product is remarkably user hostile, and now that Mozilla offers an alternative that is superior in every remotely relevant metric***, there is no reason to endure IE's flaws any longer. Viva Mozilla. (Seriously, if you still want to use**** IE, go ahead, knock yourself out, just don't complain to me about pop-ups five or six times a day.)

*i.e. The new bunch of features that are given as reasons to upgrade, but no user would ever contemplate asking for or using, such as the Media Bar doohickey. For more examples see every version of Microsoft Office post 1997. See also Paint Shop Pro Syndrome.

**Yes, I would've said that this kind of exploit was unlikely too, had I not seen such a trick in action. The fake error page in question managed to covertly write data, luckily benign, into the registry of my flatmate's laptop. Happy browsing.

***Yes, including speed.

****'Use IE' is OK, 'write web pages that only work on IE' is a deeply fucked up pursuit.