Thursday, April 22, 2010

Alright, What's the Deal with Internet Explorer 8 and Flash?

I got a call this week from a user having trouble using one of our Flash presentations online. I quickly brought up the troubled presentation and it looked fine but I was in Google Chrome. Well, there would be no way that IE8 would render Flash incorrectly or I would have heard about it, right? Nope. Sure enough, the Flash presentation took up half of the screen and looked inconsistent.

Pissed off, I walked down to help desk to see if they had gotten calls on this or if I just happened to be the first lucky schmuck to answer my phone with this issue. Sure enough, they said that they have heard rumbling about this and just used the 'Compatability button' as the fix. The compatibility button? As I think about it, WTF?!? It never occurred to me the insanity of that. Did the developers of IE8 decide to throw their hands in the air at the thoughts of making the browser compatible with existing sites? Is this the first they have heard of a Web site called Facebook and its 500 million unique logins a month?  They realize that those Facebook users play games and those games are Flash driven, right?  Who builds in a compatibility button? When in doubt, hit the button? Are you kidding me?

I have heard my share of Microsoft accusations and complaints. Recently I heard about Microsoft's XBox controller factory treating Chinese teens like prisoners (read the story) to them being unable to keep up with the times in terms of ingenuity (is it any secret that Apple and Google are running rings around them) to them simply unable to produce quality products (Vista anyone). In my opinion, all of that pales in comparison of the need for a compatibility button. That is like telling users, "we know that we can make our browser compatible on the build, but that would require further effort and we don't want to do that, so anytime that your page doesn't render correctly, just hit this magic button and IE8 becomes IE7."

I have read several solutions to this issue. The one that I have put in our documentation is to tell users to click on Tools > Internet Options > Security tab > reduce security to medium. That seemed to solve the issue. It sounds better than, "just clicking the freaking compatibility button." That makes it sound like we actually programmed incorrectly.

So Microsoft, as a developer I am now thrilled that I no longer just have to make workaround coding for your buggy Internet Explorer 6 browser but also have to keep an eye out for your newer, buggy Internet Explorer 8 browser. Thanks!

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