Sunday, 20 September 2009

MSN Bot - and Web Standards

The above screen capture shows a visit from the MSN Bot recorded by ExtremeTracking.

The first thing that struck me is that, according to Microsoft, Microsoft Vista is so wonderful, and we are all urged to upgrade. Why then is Mircrosoft still using XP?

A second perhaps more important thing is the use of Internet Explorer 6. With IE 8 being reasonably standards compliant, and IE 6 having its own unique ways, web designers are having major problems getting their sites to work on both. This is then having a knock on effect on other browsers.

A major site my other half uses suddenly found that Opera was not working, so they adjusted, then Firefox did not work, so they adjusted again and Safari stopped. Hence over several weeks most of the major alternative browsers failed to work. However, IE 6 and IE 8 worked all the time. The problem is clear from the web browser usage figures for the top 5 browsers, according to NetApplications:

Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 25.25%
Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0 21.10%
Microsoft Internet Explorer 8.0 15.10%
Firefox 3.0 12.48%
Firefox 3.5 8.88%

IE 6 is still the most widely used browser, and so even though it causes problems for the rendering of all the other browsers developers do not feel they can stop making it work a priority. Hence, considering that Microsoft claim to want to work towards web standards compliance, they are happy to cause havoc with other browsers, and make them look problematic, and sometimes make them unusable, when it is Microsofts product which is causing the problem.

Bots have a major influence on browser statistics, being all pervasive they visit almost all sites, and often form a large proportion of site visitors stats. Thus, it is especially poor that Microsoft are bolstering the IE 6 statistic figures with their Bot. It makes me question their commitment to web standards, and if they are actively trying to undermine alternative browsers by protracting the change to web standards?

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