About Internet Explorer 8 – interview with Amy Barzdukas

Interview with Amy Barzdukas from Microsoft (April 2nd, 2009).

There is also Czech translation available. Můžete si přečíst také český překlad.

In the beginning may you introduce yourself? What is your position in IE team?

My name is Amy Barzdukas and I am a senior director in product management in marketing teams. So I run on a business side of Internet Explorer.

IE market share is decreasing for several years. Can IE8 change this situation?

We really focused on a data-driven and a customer-centric approach for developing IE8. To deliver a browser that is really tuned for the way people really use the web. And I think that it stands up next to any other browser.

Do you have some idea what are the main reasons why people choose today other browsers than IE, and what is your strategy to prevent it?

I think that when people are looking at browsers, some of the things that appeal to them are their perceptions around security, their perceptions around how easy to use it is, how easy to navigate and then I think that also just personal reasons, you know, history with the particular browser, maybe you can be developer you know on a browser and it becomes a reason, why you use that browser.

So I think what we have done with IE8, has been to focus on some of the things, that we see, how people really use the web to navigate and to deliver and easier, faster and more secure browser.

Amy Barzdukas

IE has complicated history, in 90’s it was a very advanced browser, it was the first one with support for CSS1, later the development has been delayed and stopped and today a lot of web designers criticize Microsoft and IE. Do you think IE can improve its reputation and become again the first one browser?

I think that we have certainly really doubled down on our efforts around standards with IE8 and have really focused on working across the community to engage developers and make things easier for developers that work well not only in IE8, but in all browsers.

And today IE8 passes more of the CSS2.1 specifi­cations than any other browsers, so I think there is a lot of work that we have done there. And we are continuing to be committed to.

So the web standards support has high priority in IE8?

That is something we announced at MIX last year and it continues to be true.

Although IE8 has good standards support, there is still big market share of IE6, which is for some web designers a nightmare. Can Microsoft somehow urge users to upgrade?

I would certainly urge anyone using IE6 to move to a modern browser and to move to IE8. And that certainly has been something that we have been urging our corporate customers to use. And you will hear from us in the coming months, to both consumers and enterprise customer to move off of IE6.

There is tough competition in JavaScript speed among browsers today. IE8 is a lot of faster than IE7 but the most recent versions of other browsers are even faster. Do you think that IE can be the fastest browser in the world?

JavaScript only comprises of a small portion what constitutes speed. And a lot of time people use the JavaScript performance, because it’s easy to measure as a shorthand for whether a browser is faster or not. It’s only a piece of the speed story.

You could have seen the video where we post browsers side by side. In our performance labs in Redmond, we did it against the top of 25 websites worldwide as measured by comScore Media Metrix. Following on that, in Brazil, a public university did the same test – not Microsoft, but public university – on a top of 25 sites in Brazil and they had similar responses where of the top 25 sites in Brazil, 10 were fastest loading on IE8.

So we’re fast like all browsers today are fast, and in some cases we’re faster, in some cases we’re not, but the differences we’re talking about are microseconds, it’s not necessarily something, that consumers or anybody using the web can see. So we are committed to continue to improve performance, but I think people need to look at a broader performance picture, it’s not just JavaScript.

Do you plan to open there tests to the public? Because the JavaScript tests are public, so every user can just click on the page and measure the results.

Sure, this is one of the challenges and we have published the White Paper describing the methodology we used for performance. Measuring JavaScript is easy; really measuring how quickly a page loads is not. There are a lot of variables you have to look into and there is network latency, there are bandwidth issues, there is caching issues, there are all kinds of things that come into play, time of day even what kind of connection you own.

So it is easy to default to using a measure and say it’s what speed is all about, but it’s not a complete picture, so we published a White Paper. We encourage the dialogue to continue and for people to continue and have discussions about what constitutes speed.

There is new project Gazelle from Microsoft. What is purpose of this project?

Microsoft Research, as you know, does a lot of work. Some of the work at Microsoft Research generally makes its way into shipping products, other works is not, some of it is inspiration, some of is just fine ideas. And it is too soon to tell how Gazelle may or may not be productise, but we will have more say about that, I am sure in a coming years.

There were even some rumours that Microsoft will stop IE development and will continue with Gazelle. So you cannot confirm this?

I can tell you, we are here to stay in a browser space.

There is question about compatibility, because new standards support in IE8 can broke some old web sites. How did you solve this problem?

I think that the compatibility discussion, when you look more broadly, all browsers have some sites that don’t render properly on them. And that is not something that is unique to IE8 or to any other browser that’s just a common situation.

What we did with IE8 is, we are committed as we have said to standards and to supporting them so shipping IE8 in standards mode by default is a great move forward to supporting standards. At the same time we recognized that there are a lot of legacy sites out there. Older sites and in many cases just very large very complex sites, that have a combination of very pages that are ready to standards and older pages that are not.

And so by providing the compatibility view button and compatibility view list we’ve enabled web sites to have a transition phaze. So why we are very strong and very committed to standards and to IE8 standards mode we also want to be sure, that we’re not breaking the web for people.

Thank you for the interview.

Martin Hassman was interviewing Amy Barzdukas during MIX09.

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