Comparing Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 and Firefox (Minefield) 3.1

I have read posts about both the new Mozilla browser and Internet Explorer 8. Peter and I decided to run a quick lab test to see how fast and compatible are the new browsers.

It was obvious to use Sense/Net Portal Engine TNG for the test, since we are about to release it on the 30th of September, and it has lots of AJAX based GUI-s. This was just a really quick smoke test to see if our apps fail at basic operations such as browsing the content repository, or editing portlets.

In our test we used Internet Explorer 8 beta 2 (exact version 8.0.6001.18241) and Mozilla 3.1 (codename Minefield, exact version 3.1a2pre).

We tried to run PRC and Portal Explorer, the administration console of Sense/Net Portal Engine TNG beta1. They have been optimized to be compatible, and run very well on IE7, Mozilla 3.0 and Safari, both on Windows and on a Mac.

When the same apps were tried in Mozilla 3.1 we experienced no difference, it felt a little bit faster and worked fine. It was not surprisingly fast, with the exception being the use of Rich Text Editor.

When these apps were tried in the IE8 beta, it was buggy. PRC drag and drop did not work, and the Portal Explorer flashed randomly, freezing after a few clicks - only F5 helped. It seems that IE8 is not compatible (at least not for us), and we will have to spend money on getting our app compatible.

Sense/Net Portal Engine TNG function IE8 Beta 2
Minefield (Firefox 3.1)
PRC drag and drop  Not continuous OK, faster and smoother, works fine
PRC functions OK OK
Page edit mode (Webpart edit mode) No drag and drop (and it is also buggy with SharePoint, the target zone does not show up) OK, faster, works fine
Webpart custom editor Page hidden when dialog is open OK
Portal Explorer load OK, Faster OK, faster
Portal Explorer tree Screen flickers, freezes after few clicks OK
Portal Explorer list Screen flickers, freezes after few clicks OK
Portal Explorer dialogs (copy, move, new) OK OK
Dialog drag snd drop OK, same as before OK, same as before
Rich text editor (works with modified tinyMCE) Behaves randomly, unusable, especially when two editors are on the same page OK, much faster, absolutely usable
Conclusion: 4 OKs 10 OKs


My personal opinion is that Microsoft has an urge to release new versions too quickly and expects the market to adopt them, but this fast pace has a negative effect on the web industry. Most people still use IE6, and IE7 still has compatibility problems, but we are already forced to deal with IE8 beta. I think Microsoft should slow down a little, and pay attention to quality, speed and compatibility as well. 

Most people still use IE6. If IE8 launches, there will be 3 versions on the market simultaneously (this has not happened yet), so chances are web service providers and CMS manufacturers like Sense/Net will have to optimize for 3 versions just from Microsoft, not to mention other browsers. Will customers pay for this? Not too likely. 

Some of the bugs could be caused by the fact that there are many IE7 workarounds in the code, so if IE8 is compliant, the workarounds will not work anymore. So what is it now - is IE8 incompliant or too compliant??

As a web business owner, my conclusion is the following. We have built software that works fine in IE7, Mozilla 3 and Safari. It works even better with the new beta Safari 3.1. It does not work acceptably in Internet Explorer 8 beta 2. The bottom line is that if IE8 stays this way, we will have to spend money to remain compatible, while in the case if Mozilla, we do not have to spend money and our app even gets better.

Read more about the JIT compiler in Firefox, with a download link:

Download IE8 beta:

See a screenshot of PRC: 

See a screenshot of Portal Explorer:

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