Below is the flame that I got from the mysterious “Ray L.”, who apparently is offended that I, a doctor, can applaud that a stable browser has a chunk of market share (I’m still trying to figure out how the two are related), and also is reacting like I insulted his mother. I’m posting it by popular demand.

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Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2000 20:49:00 -0700
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From: "Ray L." <>
Subject: 86% use Internet Explorer

Seen on your weblog today:
"Cooooool -- 86% of websurfers are using Internet Explorer to go where they want to go. Means that fewer and fewer people are using that browser that crashes on well-formed HTML and CSS code, which is a Good Thing for web developers."
This is a terrible thing for web developers, and anyone else who cares about diversity.
It's amazing that a doctor -- someone supposedly educated in biology -- could applaud the idea of monoculture, only weeks after the Microsoft Outlook virus showed just how dangerous monoculture is for software development.
Thanks to your stupidity and arrogance, I've deleted your URL from my bookmark list & won't be reading it anymore.

Well, this is a little harsh; more could have been accomplished with a little sweetener, however artificial. “I wish you’d given more attention to the issue of software monocultures …”

It’s not about “diversity”, either, which phrase only reminds me of Wally complaining to Catbert that he couldn’t use his Mac anymore, taking to an extreme the idea of religious affiliation to computer OSes. “What about this company’s commitment to diversity?” (Catbert, of course, replied: “The longer you work here — diverse it gets.”)

Still, I’m not happy with Microsoft running the browser market like this, especially because it leads to two annoying things: the proliferation of websites supporting Microsoft-only technology like VBScript, and a proliferation of Linux zealots whose websites block or otherwise break IE.

Truth is, I agree more with his view than yours. IE may be easier to use in many ways, and more stable than the aging Netscape rendering engine, but Mozilla is coming along nicely and I have high expectations. The real Good Thing is that both IE5 and Mozilla/Netscape 6 (and Opera, for that matter) will lead to well over 90% of surfers using a standards-compliant browser.

• Posted by: Dan Hartung on Jun 28, 2000, 1:59 PM

Actually, then, I think that you and I agree. I’m not enthused that MICROSOFT has 86% of the market, I’m enthused that 86% of the market is held by a browser that doesn’t crash all the time, adheres to standards (mostly), and breaks gracefully when it DOESN’T implement a standard. Thus, I’m not going to be terribly upset if Opera takes browser share from MSIE; Opera seems to work well, render pages correctly, and not crash with random tag combinations (like Netscape does). Likewise, if Mozilla comes along well, I’m not going to be upset when it takes market share away from IE.

In the end, the thing that makes me happy is when I don’t have to do stupid things and avoid using certain HTML/CSS just so that my users’ browsers behave themselves. Anything that furthers this goal is A Good Thing to me; anything that hinders it is A Bad Thing to me.


• Posted by: Jason Levine on Jun 28, 2000, 3:31 PM

Right, so this guy emailed me too because I recently posted an email to my site regarding these issues:

He seemed to want me to side with him, and included the email he sent to you in the email he sent to me. Like I’m supposed to automatically side with him just because I’m publicly anti-Microsoft. Some people simply don’t understand…it’s much more complex a situation that that.

I could care less if Microsoft has 100% of the market, just so long as they don’t abuse that market share, use it to screw over their competition, or start charging money for something they gave away for free.


• Posted by: Cameron Barrett on Jun 29, 2000, 11:00 PM

I’ve gotten a few private emails, trying to read more into what I said on the main page; I’ve tried to correct people as best I can. I, too, don’t care what browsers are in that 86% so long as they are relatively consistent in their application of standards. As a web designer, I hate having to make poor design decisions based around brain-dead implementations, or crashing browsers… it just plain sucks. If Opera, Mozilla (finalized, not in the state it’s in now), or some newcomer enters into that majority market share, I won’t care one lick so long as I don’t have to make stupid design choices in order to support that browser.

By the way, I love that he included his mail to me in his mail to you. Putz.


• Posted by: Jason Levine on Jul 2, 2000, 1:48 PM
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