An Inspection of IE9 with a CPA Website Designer
- By: Brian OConnell
Well, IE9 has been public for long enough to really look at now, and my verdict is in. IE9 is Microsoft's latest browser version, but unless you frequent browser games it isn't exactly a blessing to the accounting business. This was the first new version of Microsoft's web browser in 2 years. It is a gravely overdue update, but in my humble opinion it just doesn't cut it. This is a whole new age in web design. CSS3 and HTML5 have revolutionized the way websites can be made, and IE9 comes up a little short. OK, let's take an honest look at how your accounting websites are going to affected by IE9.
One of the biggest improvements that came with the latest version of Internet Explorer was hardware acceleration, but this improvement won't really do us much good in terms of accounting website design. Hardware acceleration helps web pages display complex, interactive graphics. If you have ever played a Facebook game like Farmville, you'll notice that your browser will likely encounter lag or a drop in frames per second (FPS) when you were viewing an area of the game that had a lot of activity. With hardware acceleration this lag or drop in FPS should be reduced or not even happen!
IE9 now allows a graphics card (GPU) inside your computer to take some of the processing load off of the CPU. This in turn allows the browser to run more efficiently and provide greater performance. Older processors put the entire load on your computer's CPU, and when things got busy the framerate of browser animations would drop or freeze entirely. But now IE9 has the ability to use the GPU which is designed for graphics and use it with the CPU that is designed for more things like calculation. Great for gamers. Not so much for QuickBooks.
This really ticks me off. We could use IE9 to it's full (if limited) potential and you may very well not be able to see the changes. IE9 doesn't support the XP operating system. This is a big deal from a web designers point of view. XP is more than 40% of the market so a LOT of users can't benefit from the browsers new functionality. Windows Vista is almost unused with only 14% market share, and windows 7 only has about 26%. This means more of your clients and prospects use XP than Vista and Windows 7 combined, yet Microsoft still said no to having IE9 work with XP!
Inadequate CSS3 Support
My biggest disappointment is IE9's treatment of CSS3. CSS is a "style sheet language" that allows document standards like fonts, colors etc to be defined with defaults and standards specific to that document. CSS3 offers a lot of opportunities for us as website designers in terms of the aesthetics of your site. It allows us to do more with less code, making your online documents smaller, better looking, faster loading, and easier for search engines to index. CSS3 supports a whole host of new style elements that IE9 does not. I got pretty excited when I heard that IE9 was bragging about HTML5 and CSS3 support. I honestly believed that Microsoft was going to stop treating it's browser users like a bunch of inept technophobes. Nope.
For shame, Microsoft. For shame.
OK, this is a better browser than IE8. That said, as an accounting website designer I'm VERY disappointed. The inability to work with Windows XP and lack of functionality with CSS3 has left me with a sour taste in mouth. It's only a marginal improvement over IE8 and I honestly think that Microsoft could of done a much better job with it.
I still don't advise using IE. It's good enough for casual users, but for most of us it's still too simple. Even if you possess an Operating System that can support Internet Explorer 9 there isn't any reason to use it when Firefox and Google Chrome are available as free downloads. For now I still endorse Firefox. Chrome has already blossomed into being a real contender though, and if it wasn't for some technical challenges we've had with it's abbreviated treatment of Java and functionality with the file transfer protocol that comes bundled with our accounting websites, I might very well change that sometime.
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Brian O'Connell is the CEO and founder of CPA Site Solutions, one of the country's biggest website design companies oriented solely to accounting websites(http://www.websites4accountants.com/). His company presently provides websites for more than 5000 CPA, accounting, and bookkeeping firms.