Internet Explorer sucks less than it used to, claims Microsoft

Filed Under: Featured, Malware, Microsoft, Security threats, Vulnerability

IE SucksThere are plenty of people who love to hate Microsoft Internet Explorer.

The browser has been steadily losing marketshare to the likes of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox in recent years.

Old versions of Internet Explorer, such as the ghastly IE 6 (which Microsoft has begged users to stop using), are riddled with security holes - and that probably hasn't helped the ongoing impression amongst many net users that Microsoft's browser is inherently inferior.

Microsoft is well aware of the strength of anti-Internet Explorer feeling out there, and has just released a rather fun video, starring someone who clearly loathes Internet Explorer with a passion:

Well, at least Microsoft is proving it has a sense of humour. The company has even created a website, www.browseryoulovedtohate.com/, which declares "It's good now... No, really".

I visited the website myself (I didn't use Internet Explorer, natch) and couldn't find anything on the website explaining why Microsoft Internet Explorer was better than Firefox, Chrome, Opera, etc.. when it comes to security.

Maybe there's some information up there which deals with security - but I wasn't able to find it.

Certainly, when we ran a poll earlier this year asking Naked Security readers which web browser they recommended, Internet Explorer performed badly.

(By the way, you should probably ignore the high ranking of Opera in that poll - as it was somewhat.. err.. influenced by Opera encouraging its users to vote)

So, what do you think of Microsoft's marketing campaign for Internet Explorer? Would it get you to change your mind if you are a steadfast IE hater?

Does Internet Explorer suck less when it comes to security than other browsers?

Have your say in our poll, and feel free to leave a comment below.

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34 Responses to Internet Explorer sucks less than it used to, claims Microsoft

  1. RMc-Canada · 701 days ago

    I never jumped on the ‘Must Hate Everything Microsoft Just Because Its Microsoft, Bandwagon’?, so the only Browser I've ever used has been Internet Explorer?, has always done the job good enough for me & I love the current version. :-)

    • Luigi442wii . · 78 days ago

      Hmmmmm, it's alright I suppose, better than Google Chrome which is the worst (search 'Google spying on you' and read the first result). That's the worst because if you have microphone, then it can record everything even after exiting a page - some malicious sites use this and cover it up under a pop-up ad (it still records if you were to close it).

  2. vexorian · 701 days ago

    It sucks more.

    Really, using a MS browser now is the equivalent of still being into hair bands. They were never that good, and now it is just embarrassing.

  3. Leo Notenboom · 701 days ago

    Your pole only includes two extremes: sucks as it did before, or it's better than the others. What if neither are true?

    It doesn't suck as much as it used to (ok, ok, it sucks less :-), but it's more on a par with Firefox and Chome. Not sucking less than, not sucking more than.

    They each have their strengths and weaknesses (and deriders and fanboys), but the choice of browser is no longer the huge security issue it once was, but more a matter of personal taste and experience.

    • Fair point. I'll reset the vote back to zero, and add that as an option in the poll.

    • Luigi442wii:
      I like IE. If they kept it the same as IE6 layout, but then had all the updates security of IE10, that would be awesome, because white modern stuff sucks.

  4. Camden · 701 days ago

    IE actually surpassed the latest version of Firefox in Futuremark's Peacekeeper test on my computer.

    IE 10 (Desktop mode): 1,350
    Firefox 17: 800. (That's less than the iPad)
    Chrome: 2,500

    My specs:

    2.6Ghz Quad Core AMD Athlon 620
    8gb RAM
    ATi Radeon HD 4550
    Windows 8 Pro with Media Center

  5. --- · 701 days ago

    I saw (and cant find the link) where a security audit was done for IE (latest at the time) and firefox, time to patch was way better, didnt "borrow" data like crome, and overall speeds scored well. I think its a good browser, now Java is something that needs a fixing.

  6. IE has made tremendous leaps in speed and security compared to older versions, but not necessarily compared to the competition. While IE10 isn't as fast as Chrome, it's the fastest version of IE to date. While it doesn't support all of the latest and greatest CSS3 and HTML5 features, it supports the ones that have been finalized and enough of the others that you don't have to code twice — once for IE and once for everyone else.

    Personally, I wouldn't recommend it over the competition, but I see no reason to bash it anymore either. If you just need a functional browser that works, it'll finally do the trick.

  7. Clyde · 701 days ago

    it's always been about performance, which is why everyone switched to Chrome of FF and now they're fat and happy. Could MS be pompous enough to think they can win them all back? lol lol lol

  8. Rik · 701 days ago

    IE 10 Blocks more Malware than any browser
    https://www.nsslabs.com/reports/browser-security-...

    The Chakara Java engine is faster than all other browsers

    Tested it and its considerably faster than all the other browsers.

    So yes IE is gaining ground back.

    Even does well in "Phising Protection" Lab test, only beaten by Chrome
    https://www.nsslabs.com/reports/browser-security-...

  9. I find it kinda funny that Microsoft has disabled commenting on its IE YouTube video about the guy who leaves comments slagging off IE.

  10. Does IE still run ActiveX?

    Then it sucks. Period. I don't care how many mitigations they've put in for that. (And, yes, I know Java and JavaScript suck as well.)

    • Guest · 701 days ago

      Yes, IE9 still runs ActiveX. I agree that it's an unacceptable risk when Firefox and Chrome are free, fast, and easy to use.

  11. Gavin · 700 days ago

    The poll doesn't have enough options because in my opinion the answer is:

    It doesn't suck as much as it used to, but it's still way behind other browsers.

  12. Tricia · 700 days ago

    I would have ticked, had it been in the poll, 'Haven't used IE for years, but if found to be as good as, or better, than other browsers, then I would go back to it.'

    It's mainly the security issues that I'm concerned with. If it's on par with other browsers on security, then I'd consider going back.

  13. Tony (Sys Admin) · 700 days ago

    We have standardised on IE for our 200+ users. I can lock it down using Group Policy, patch it and maintain a standard version using WSUS. Firefox and Chrome would mean I have to go round 200 users and update each one, neither uses the registry which leaves it wide open for 'meddling' and and our Case Management software (business critical) breaks every other time Chrome is upgraded.

    We'll use whatever makes IT's life easy...IE

    • Doodle · 700 days ago

      I have to agree with Tony here. In a Windows shop/network, IE is much easier to manage using GPOs and even login scripts.
      I personally switched to FF a couple of years ago, for various reasons. But I still have to use IE for some sites/application portals, the others just don't work. And I have considered just going back to IE with version 9 (and I have gone back with version 10 on my Win8 test machines).

  14. Tony · 700 days ago

    Wow, I'm impressed. I didn't realize that MS adopted kittens and donated them to children everywhere. Hopefully they give serious consideration about donating kitty litter and maybe some catnip toys.

  15. Jack Wilborn · 700 days ago

    Don't trust it and will never trust it.

  16. Chris · 700 days ago

    Why are you discussing this, IE was so bad that I moved over to Firefox.
    Now the issue is, is IE better than the competition, if not, then there is no further comment, stay with what you are currently using.

  17. roy jones jr · 700 days ago

    Work or home, I haven't had issues with Internet Explorer 9 (10). I don't know how tabs you all keep open but I see no noticeable difference in Opera, Firefox, Chrome or Explorer to warrant only using one forever. Security wise? I've seen all of the browsers I've mentioned stop scripts and plugins it didn't think were legit. Also, any browser that notifies you of updates is fine with me. So far Firefox doesn't have that setting on by default which bothers me.

    • MikeP_UK · 699 days ago

      Yes it does! FF has shown me today a window stating that FF 17.0.1 is available now. That's is, in my book, notification of an update.

    • MikeP_UK · 699 days ago

      FF does tell you that updates are available! I was told by a dialog that appeared automatically yesterday that an update to FF 17.0.1 was available and have installed it at a convenient moment. I'm not aware of having to change any setting/preference/option to have that dialog show, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

  18. David Pottage · 700 days ago

    Right now I have 76 tabs open in Firefox, and use the tree style tabs extension to manage them.

    Firefox works perfectly well with that many tabs open, and the user interface to keep track of them and swithch between them is easy to use.

    While I don't doubt that IE would cope with that many tabs open, in terms of not crashing, I don't think the user interface would be practical. As a test I have just opened the Wikipedia front page in IE, and clicked on every link I could see. I did not even get a scroll bar on the tabs, let alone any sane way of grouping them.

    For me that is the main reason IE sucks: The user interface is hostile to power users and there are few if any usefull plugins to change the UI.

    In any case, in my day to day usage, I don't have the option to run IE, because I manly use Linux, so from my point of view the other reason IE sucks is that it is the only mainstream browser that is not cross platform.

  19. Nigel · 700 days ago

    I haven't used IE since v5.2.3, the last version that was available for Mac...and that was a long time ago. It wasn't my favorite browser then; I only used it to check how my HTML rendered in IE (Answer: Not well at all; IE’s implementation of HTML sucked in those days). However, there were few alternatives to IE back then, so getting your HTML to look the way you wanted it to look meant screwing up perfectly good code to accommodate IE's idiosyncrasies. It was a royal PITA.

    I never bothered with IE when I had to run Windows...using Virtual PC, with the Mac as a brick-wall firewall that allowed ZERO network traffic through to the Windows virtual machine (VM). It was just a much better idea to let OS X face the web, and keep the Windows VM isolated. Even now, OS X still has less exposure to hazard, but the days of zero OS X exploits in the wild are gone forever, it would seem.

    Anyhow, I follow the security news and, by all reports, Microsoft is doing a much better job of securing IE than in ye olden tymes. It also appears that they're doing a vastly better job of adhering to W3C standards. So, while I don't think I'm qualified to vote in the poll, I'd have to say that if I can believe what I've been reading, IE apparently "sucks less than it used to".

    As to whether IE is better than other browsers, I think that’s really a question of priorities. For example, Chrome is alleged to be faster and leaner. That’s certainly true in my experience running it in OS X, but I ultimately scrubbed it and all other Google software off my systems. Google’s apps constantly phone home, as reported by Little Snitch, which monitors all outside connection requests. If IE doesn’t do that, it’s probably a better choice than Chrome for any user for whom privacy is a priority.

  20. MGSKS · 700 days ago

    Those geniuses at MS hired a marketing company to help them… Probably the same firm that encourages the use of Chimps in Superbowl commercials.

  21. Dee B. Pickus · 700 days ago

    I have stayed with IE because of one reason -- SPB Wallet. It is a toolbar that easily saves passwords encrypted and syncs with my iPhone. There is no other application that works like it does. When I go to log into a website, it pops up with the ability to save the login and password. I can enter the passwords in manually too. Then I sync it to my iPhone so I have all my passwords with me -- encrypted. It does not work in any other application and so I have to keep IE.

  22. Shiny317 · 699 days ago

    Anyone remember the web challenge to see if anyone could crack browsers using standard available tools, do it and win a nice sum of money? I'm sure you know what I'm talking about :-). Chrome busted in under 5 minutes. There's a lot I see still clinging on to that old skool early 2000s mentality of, we must hate Miscrosoft because, umm well others do for, umm, some reason and I need to keep in with my peers.

    IE has not gotten any better or any worse really than it was before. It's a 'web browser' and for browsing web pages it works fine, always did. What changed was malware, adware, viruses, trojans and hackers got more commonplace and sophisticated. Miscrosoft still being the biggest will be targeted more, so of course it will appear possibley worse than other browsers. Give someone enough incentive and time and they will find a way through a brower's security, where there's a will there's a way....in Google Chrome's case incentive and time was monetary gain and less than 5 minutes to be busted. Do I have permission to point and laugh at Google Chrome for that by the way, I hate hackers but I did find that amusing..sorry

  23. snert · 699 days ago

    There ain't no gravity - the whole world sucks, IE along with it!

  24. I followed the links on Microsoft's "loved to hate" site and found some funny math regarding security. From the "The Browser You Loved To Hate" main page click on the "It's Good Now" tab and at the bottom of the page is the "better protection" entry. Click on "learn more" and you find yourself at beautyoftheweb dot com with a beautiful painted frog with blue (of course) tinged legs and links placed by each foot. Click on the "Leading malware protection" plus sign and up pops a graph. The heading makes the claim that IE 10 "blocks 40% more socially-engineered malware than Chrome". The graph shows IE blocking 99.1% compared to Chrome 21 blocking 70.4%. That looks more like a 29% difference to me. I expect the numbers to be cooked to make IE look good but a goof this large makes me question the validity of any claim on this site.

    • Chris · 697 days ago

      Reading comprehension check: "40% _MORE_" (emphasis mine). Multiply 70.4 by 1.4 to get a calculation of what 40% more would be; in this case the answer is 98.56. Mutiplying by 1.41 (41% more) gets an answer of 99.264. So Microsoft is actually rounding down on their claim.

  25. joshAU · 689 days ago

    The fact that IE STILL stores confidential information that you have submitted to websites in PLAINTEXT, is one of the strongest reasons to use another browser.

    I've tested this on IE 7, 8 and 9, on Win XP, Vista and 7.

    I emailed MS security team, over a year and a half ago, of this flaw.
    After a few emails back and forth, and after sending some examples, they replied that "it was a design feature of internet explorer"...
    To date they haven't fixed it.

    I have read page after page of info on security risks with IE storing passwords with poor encryption... but no one seems to mention this huge security hole.

    The information stored in plaintext includes the website... eg. your bank login page, your user name, and your password, irrespective of whether you type in the password or use an onscreen keyboard.

    I have yet to see malware taking advantage of this, but it is obviously a lot easier, and virtually impossible to detect, when compared to standard keystroke logging methods.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.