Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 at the height of cynicism

Ten Grand is Buried Here | Microsoft Australia

I shat on Opera yesterday, and I did the same thing to Mozilla a couple years ago, and while I’m not about to go headlong into another tirade on Microsoft, I do have to point out why this contest out of Microsoft Australia is, actually, as stupid as it sounds (contrary to what they’d have you believe).

First, my memory isn’t so short as to have forgotten that it was Microsoft and their browser (Internet Explorer 6) that held back the web for so many years.

Second, promoting a contest that is based on the very same problem that lead to IE6 stifling innovation on the web is not just in poor taste, but surpasses the height of cynicism — just as Microsoft is trying to be perceived as an increasingly productive “web citizen”.

To reiterate my point, making entry to the contest contingent upon using Internet Explorer 8 not only limits participation to Windows users, but suggests that designing pages to favor IE8 over other browsers is somehow okay, or condoned by Microsoft — completely antagonistic to their recent successes in supporting web standards in the browser!

Here’re the relevant rules of the contest (again, emphasis mine):

  1. To enter the competition, the entrant must follow clues released by @Tengrand_IE8 on Twitter and on The clues section on is only viewable in Internet Explorer 8. These clues will lead the entrant to the hidden webpage.
  2. The hidden webpage can only be viewed in Internet Explorer 8. The entrant must have download Internet Explorer 8 to successfully view the hidden webpage. Upon discovery of the hidden webpage, the entrant must register his/her details, via the hidden webpage ‘Claim’ button.

Third, spending $AUD10,000 seems like a complete waste of money when it could have been put towards promoting web standards by basing the contest on building some sweet non-Silverlight, non-IE8-specific web application. But no, they chose not to seize that opportunity.

Yes, this really is as stupid at it sounds.

On the upside, here’s an awesome CC-licensed graphic by John Martz that, in the spirit of this contest, you could serve to all your IE6 visitors to remind them how out of touch their browser vendor can be (click for full size):
IE6 denial message for

11 thoughts on “Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 at the height of cynicism”

  1. @Niket: You can direct link to photos as long as you provide a link back:

    Do link back to Flickr when you post your Flickr content elsewhere.
    The Flickr service makes it possible to post content hosted on Flickr to outside web sites. However, pages on other web sites that display content hosted on must provide a link from each photo or video back to its page on Flickr.

  2. Depends how they judge the “must be using I8 to win” bit – if it’s dependent on some IE-only feature, then they’re clearly in the wrong. But, if it’s just based on judging the user-agent string, then that’s a pretty harmless way to encourage people to try their browser.

  3. I’m running Win7-64bit with IE8 and the site thinks I’m using IE7. Good on you MS!

  4. Basically, they’re doing the same thing that got them in trouble with the DOJ years ago: trying to screw with open standards.

    I wrote a relatively lengthy whitepaper about Microsoft and the Browser Wars a while back:

    Never got around to publishing it — the main idea was to influence the DOJ in the remedy stage, which kind of worked … the EU followed our advice, the DOJ guys talked to us and liked our suggestions, but then Bush got elected and a new DOJ effectively tossed the case out.

  5. The intent is hideous agree, but the concept is cool. People dig this stuff.

    Why not set something like this up for open standards? You don’t really need a prize, I think people will do it for bragging rights (if not, maybe throw in a couple of author-signed s as well :)

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