“That” IE9 Advert…

Microsoft are continuing their browser promotion assault with a new TV advert which shows IE9 doing all sorts of amazing stuff and generally being purported to be the “best” browser in the market.

Leaving aside the utter nonsense of spending decent money on TV advertising for a web browser the marketing team from Redmond back up their claims with a series of well places quotes from reputable sources:

  • “IE9 is fast, lean and modern” – Wired
  • “IE9 is absolutely mind-blowing” – Softpedia
  • “IE9 is amazingly fast” – New York Times
  • “IE9 is one massive performance jump” – Conceivably Tech
  • “IE9 Smoked the competition” – The Next Web

Some of these I’ve never heard of but Wired? The New York Fracking Times? How the hell are these sources raving over a browser that is generally regarded to be the runt of the litter of the modern web?

So I spent a little time running down the original sources of these quotes. Running through them in a slightly different order:

“IE9 is fast, lean and modern” – Wired
Google Search - Source Article - (16-09-2010)

“IE9 is amazingly fast” – New York Times
Google SearchSource Article - (15-09-2010)

Locating the source articles is pretty easy. They’re the top hit of the respective Google searches. But whats incredible is that these quotes are taken from articles written in September 2010!

That means two things, firstly the reviews are actually of a prerelease of IE (the final release didn’t emerge until March 2011) and secondly, the reviews are nearly 2 years old.

Sound like I’m stating the obvious? Bear in mind that web browser tech moves insanely fast and 2 years is a lifetime online. To put it in context, back in September 2010, Firefox was at version 3.6 (current release is version 11!) and Google Chrome was at version 6 (current release is version 21!!!). And whilst I appreciate that just quoting version numbers is no indication of progress surely you can see that the hyperbole in Microsoft’s ad campaign is so out of date to be considered no longer relevant?

Let’s take a look at the other “quotes” shall we?

“IE9 is absolutely mind-blowing” – Softpedia
Google Search – Source Article Not Found

Worryingly enough, no Google search I could come up with produced the source of this quote. I would assume that it was taken from private correspondence in which Softpedia congratulated Microsoft on a job well done … except that if you read Softpedia’s review of IE9 (slightly more current from March 2011) they sum up in a wholly more balanced fashion:

Internet Explorer 9 moves faster and much better than its predecessor, has a slicker look and adds huge improvements to privacy protection…

Even with the new JavaScript engine… Internet Explorer 9 does not manage to get close to Chrome’s speed and … does not attain the customization level available in Firefox. But it is definitely heading the right way and has a strong chance to turn the tables.

Hardly “Mind Blowing

“IE9 is one massive performance jump” – Conceivably Tech
Google Search – Source Article Not Initially Found

Interestingly enough, a verbatim search for the source of the Conceivably Tech quote doesn’t return any results.

Rewording the quote to “IE9 is a massive performance jump” does return a CT article about IE9 which I’m guessing comes from Feb 2011  (no year is specified in the publication  date) and if you read through the article you can source the quote … kinda. Taken in context:

Microsoft polished IE9 and there is one massive performance jump.

Naughty Microsoft. Quotes taken out of context and no ellipsis to denote the restructuring of the copy? What is this the Daily Mirror?

To be fair the article does go on to rave about performance increases from the RC to the Final Release but considering the misquoted source is from early 2011 and the ad is running in mid – late 2012? That leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

“IE9 Smoked the competition” – The Next Web
Google SearchSource Article

Another non traceable quote? And this time no amount of tweaking could return anything that resembled the source.

(Update 18-08-2012 thanks to a comment from Steve this post has been updated with the correct source article for the Next Web Quote. I agree with his comment that the quote is not entirely misleading although the link between TNW & Microsoft is still cause for concern.)

What did show up was this post from Google+ user Gordon Thompson who had engaged in a similar exercise and had managed to locate an area on “The Next Web” which was sponsored by Microsoft!

The Content
I’m not entirely sure I can be bothered to debunk the content shown in the ad.

Most of what you see is dependant on third parties (the video clips are hardly IE doing the work) but here are the sites shown in the ad and I’ll leave it up to you to judge if the experience is anything “special” in IE9:

In conclusion?

I’m not a big fan of MS bashing, you have to acknowledge that they are a market leader in OS provision and therefore that their web browser is a contender in the market place.

Depending on your bias you can currently find stats that show IE9 as the slowest or the fastest browser in use at the moment, but if you’re going to promote your browser, using sources that I trust on my television and you need to misquote, refer to ancient reviews and wrap the whole thing up in an experience that is little more than  fantasy … then that says everything you need to know about IE and the company behind it.

17 thoughts on ““That” IE9 Advert…”

  1. I must have to agree, when I first saw the advert in the cinema at the beginning of the year I was a little sceptical. IE8 closed the gap slightly as far as compliance but Firefox is still the better browser as far as coding. With CSS3 breaking ground and supported on all the browsers except IE I am a little concerned myself about MS claims plasters all over the bottom of the add.

    1. Perversely I’m not that worried about the technical abilities of IE9 – generally speaking it’s not that bad / hard to work around and most web pros understand the limitations.

      More concerning for me is that Microsoft feel the need to try and push a browser onto the general public, using outdated or misleading information from some very powerful brands when the truth is far removed from what’s being claimed.

      Welcome to a more beautiful web? Sure but the web’s beauty remains something that is created in spite of, not because of Internet Explorer and the real gains are being made in other platforms.

      The biggest issue is that very few people outside of the web (development / design) world are actually that well informed and may believe that IE is the best choice because … they’re on the telly and the New York Times said so – that’s just plain scary!

      1. And I should say that IE isn’t the only browser which is backed by TV advertising. Google Chrome has a load of ads that have run both in the US and the UK and they’re just as spun by marketing (see Dear Sophie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4vkVHijdQk vs Dear Hollie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lq2Nvs0va2g – same ad, content changes for the target country)

        The difference is Google don’t feel the need to dress their browser up in a ton of 3D flashy effects that have nothing to do with using the web. Everything you see int their ad’s can be done with their browser / platform. They simply state the use cases for the browser in a modern world… which I actually find kind of heartwarming (no doubt the intended effect) and considerably easier to digest than 60 seconds of Socratic rhetoric!

  2. Beyond the technicalities and the fact that I enjoy using Chrome, I find this add offensive to the general public’s intellect and It just makes me want to change the channel when I see it. Sure Marvel’s Avengers look good, it’s a freakin’ movie shown on a television, how does that make IE9 a better browser?

  3. I found this page when typing into google was there any evidence of a bribe for the endorsements which appear on the advert, an advert I find shocking.I write web sites for a living and I admit I really liked IE before IE9 even if it did had a lack of compliance because I personally found it alot easier to write code for. However IE9 is poor its slow and buggy and it shockingly does not support css3. Made even worse by the fact it is now not fully compliant or non compliant meaning I have to write even more code to make a web site work on all browsers. I hope microsoft internally realise what a terrible browser they have created and realise they need to up there game if they want any browser market share.

  4. The “smokes the competition” quote comes from here (found using the search function on the website): http://thenextweb.com/microsoft/2012/04/05/the-need-for-browser-speed-ie9-bests-everyone-on-windows-chrome-dominates-on-the-mac/

    I have issues with the content of the ad (there seems no difference in the content of most websites between IE9 and and competing browsers, so how does IE9 deliver a “more beautiful web”?), but in the case of this quote it appears to be legitimate, recent and based on the report from an independent test house. However I think that they could have included “on Windows”, which would not have lessened the impact of the statement, but would not have given the misleading impression that IE9 is faster than other browsers on all platforms.

  5. I too found this blog after being reminded by Microsoft for the hundredth time how great IE 9 was, whether those quotes actually existed…….and if they did in what context. I can’t say I’m too surprised at what you Rob have uncovered.

    Yes it does seem odd that any browser would bother to have a stand alone tv advert, but it does seem to suggest that Microsoft is feeling somewhat insecure by both the introduction of Chrome and the relatively recent EU directive wich requires every Windows PC sold in Europe to have browser choice screen pop up, essentially alerting users that Microsoft isn’t the only browser out there.
    IE has rapidly lost market share with both these 2 developments in recent years, and I feel Microsoft have been forced out of desperation to maintain the market share rather than lose even more ground.
    That said the Microsoft advert is unlikely to make those currently using something other than IE to switch back to IE, I for one have used Opera for 10 years and IE9 the advert despite its superlative quotes only had the effect of making me laugh the first time I viewed it.
    More likely Microsoft is aiming at those who haven’t switch yet or who are unlikely to switch because IE is still used widely in schools & work places.
    My niece was one such girl who recently questioned why did I was always warning against IE when her school still uses it!
    Good detective work Rob………I can even laugh even more at the ad!

  6. Thanks for a brilliant write up.
    It’s a shame people in the “know” only cringe at the advert, while those who “don’t know” actually believe it.

  7. Nice post. It’s always good to know the facts. Amazingly I’ve seen this ad loads of times but always assumed it was for IE10 (never really paying enough attention to it). However, now I’ve noticed it’s for IE9 I actually feel shocked.

    The claims of a “more beautiful web” and “smoking the competition” are complete lies. As pointed out, the performance data is now completely out of date. But either way, IE9 tries to achieve faster page load times by simply skipping the difficult bits. For example, all other modern browsers support CSS3, which gives web developers a huge number of visual effects to play with. IE9 only supports the easy bits of CSS3. It won’t render gradients or text-shadows, let alone the more complex animations.

    Quite clearly IE9 leads to a less beautiful web. And it means that if you want to enjoy the web to the fullest extent, IE9 is absolutely the one browser you should avoid.

  8. I find this commercial so annoying I had to look it up on the web. I think mostly it’s due to nothing being shown in the commercial having anything to do with browsers? I mean Marvel? The Avengers? Okay so there’s Vimeo. But when did Vimeo become the litmus test for having an awesome browser? It’s not the Crysis of websites, for goodness sake. Then there’s the background lyrics “I think that I am too close to love you / I can’t lie no more / Got to be true to myself” implying what? That all the years IE was considered the worst browser because of the security and stability issues was just hubris? We strayed from the best of IE for Opera, Firefox, and Chrome because of their trendiness?

    I don’t know — I’ve used every one of these browsers and Opera is consistently faster and more stable for my needs. It works no matter whether I’m on my beefy desktop or my 7 year old laptop that struggles along on 1 gig ram. That said I will always use Firefox when I can because of the add-ons. I am looking forward to trying IE9 because I’ve heard they’ve really made some improvements, but I don’t appreciate bullshit marketing.

    1. Just to follow-up, from the way the Softpedia article is written, and the date it was published, I’d say there’s actually a decent chance that the author hadn’t even used IE9 at that point and was merely reporting on the buzz surrounding the keynote speech. I don’t think he would have done any serious testing of it at that point, considering he had just witnessed the keynote speech at the official launch event.

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