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Microsoft Continues its Tradition of Misinformation with IE8

I have pointed out in the past how Microsoft has a habit of spreading misinformation about other browsers to help portray IE as a safer, faster with overall superior browsing experience. In the past they went as far as paying for browser security reports to make IE8 look better in comparison. This time the Product Manager of Internet Explorer Pete LePage relied on misguided and selective information to make Chrome look like a privacy menace. They are now threatened by Chrome, a browser that is not even two years old and has only about ~10% market share.

Product Manager of Internet Explorer Pete LePage talking about IE8 and Chrome’s privacy concerns. (Need Silverlight to play video, hosted by MSFT)


Selective Misinformation #1:

Pete claimed that Google sniffs information from Chrome browser address bar whenever you type anything on the address bar. He also claimed IE8 doesn’t. He demonstrated this by using a Web Debugger called Fiddler which can show you (among other things) all the connections your computer is making in real time.

The Truth:

Google Chrome address bar is not the same as an address bar on IE8 where you type URL to go to a specific site. On Chrome, the Address bar and search bar is combined together into a feature called omnibox. This feature is not unique to Chrome, this is also available on Firefox. As a matter of fact Firefox was first to come up with the idea, but it was Chrome who implemented it first. So when you are typing something on Chrome and Firefox address bar you are also searching for each term. Its an efficient way to maximize the space on top of the browser, without having to clutter it with two separate boxes, one for URL and one for searches.

So of course when you type in words on the omnibox it will do queries to Google or Bing or whichever search engine you have configured on your chrome configuration. As matter of fact when you set your default search engine as Bing and type in words on omnibox it does queries to Bing (look at the screenshot below). Is it right to say that Microsoft is snooping on your every letters and words when you type on Chrome?

Exhibition 1: Microsoft Spying on you when you type on Omnibox on Google Chrome

Pete also claimed that when you type on IE Address bar it doesn’t make any connection to your search engine, which is true because its not a search box, but when you do type something on the IE8 search box (which Pete wisely ignored to show) fiddler showed that IE8 makes connection to your search engine (shown below).

Exhibition 2: Microsoft Spying on you when you type on IE8 search box

So essentially when the Product Manager of Internet Explorer at Microsoft tells you how scary Chrome is when it comes to security he is being deceptive because he is comparing apples to oranges. When you perform keyword search both on IE8 and Chrome (or any other browser), they all behave the same way.


Selective Misinformation #2:

In the second part of the video, Pete mentions about InPrivate browsing on Microsoft and how it protects you by not storing any information on browser cache,but absolutely fails to mention that Chrome also comes with a Private browsing mode called Incognito.

The Truth:

When you are making a video comparing privacy and security features of one browser with another its only fair to do the same in all instances. Private browsing was first introduced by Safari in 2005, Google Chrome did it 2 months after its initial release in December 2008. IE8 released private browsing mode in March 2009, 2 months after Chrome officially released it. Yet Pete forget to mention this important bit. As if, private browsing is something that is only available on IE8.

Exhibition 3: Late in the party, but just as loud.



So this is what we have come down to with Microsoft. Instead of innovating with new features and adhering to industry standards they are relying on spreading misinformation about the new popular kid in the browser town. They have done it with Firefox and now they are doing it with Chrome.

Deception, misinformation and stagnating the industry with closed development and ignoring standards is the only way they know how to play the game.

I had some hopes for them when they showcased some of the improvements they are working on with IE9 and it seemed that they are slowly implementing industry standards in to their rendering engine. But today Microsoft reminded us again how they play the game.

With Microsoft, its business as usual.

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