I’m an equal opportunity critic of bad decisions, regardless of whether they’re coming from an open source or closed source purveyor.

A few weeks back I wrote that the IE8 “Get the Facts” campaign gets it wrong by showing little respect for the target audience’s intelligence.  Today, I’m calling out Mozilla for needlessly playing the “Get the facts” game (or “See How we Stack Up” in Mozilla speak).

Someone at Mozilla wants me to believe that Firefox is so much better than IE that Firefox leads 6 to 1 in the “handy browser comparison chart”.  I don’t disagree that Firefox leads in the items that Mozilla included in the comparison.  But if Firefox didn’t lead in “Thousands of free way to personalize your online experience”, Mozilla would not have put that item on the comparison table.

Does this comparison really help someone evaluating which browser to download and use?  Absolutely not. Product comparisons are better left to a third party that will include criteria important to users, not simply criteria that the owning vendor’s product is best at.

This is a waste of time, both for employees of Mozilla and Microsoft and for anyone who has stumbles across these “comparisons”.

I don’t know why, but I would have expected Mozilla to take the high road in this comparison game.

Reading the Windows Internet Explorer 8: Get the Facts marketing campaign instantly made me wonder “When did Microsoft hire Oracle’s marketing team?” While Oracle is getting much better, they were legendary for making bold claims by cherry picking “data”.  It used to drive me nuts when I was in the IBM market intelligence group and was asked to pull background data to refute these claims.  Not because the work was hard.  But because I felt that the work was unnecessary.  After a while, readers and customers learned to discount the bold claims.

In any case, back to the current story at hand.  I’m probably more pro-Microsoft than most open source folks, which is why the IE 8 Get the Facts marketing stings more than it probably should.  I have nothing against IE 8, and it may very well be an excellent browser.  For what it’s worth, I use both Firefox, the “View in IE” Firefox extension and IE 7 daily.

When I read a comparison table and one product has a check on every item and the other two competitors have, at most, 4 checks, I am instantly weary of the comparison.  Markets are way more competitive than the story Microsoft is painting with this comparison table.

I’m really wonder who Microsoft is targeting with this campaign.  For most Windows corporate and consumer users, IE is on their desktop and they’ll continue to use it.  This campaign doesn’t mean much to them, and can’t really be targeted at them. If these users are using Firefox, it’s because someone they know or someone in the IT department has convinced them to use Firefox.  To get my little cousin to stop using Firefox, Microsoft has to get me to stop using Firefox and wait for me to tell her that IE 8 is much better than Firefox.  But this comparison table treats me like a moron.  Especially when you consider that I’m using Firefox and have pre-existing views on many items on the comparison table.  Only IE 8 gets a check for “Security” “Privacy” and “Ease of Use”?  Really? At a minimum, Microsoft should have used Harvey Balls to show that the competitors have capabilities, which may not be as strong as IE 8.  Microsoft could have posted videos that show how easy it is to carry out a common task in IE 8 and compare it to Firefox with the relevant add on installed.  Show us what happens when a session crashes and how much better the combination of “tab isolation and crash recovery” is in day to day use versus Firefox.  In this case, simply having two features versus one or the other, doesn’t tell me anything about my day to day experience.

If Microsoft wants me and others like me, to take IE 8 seriously, I expect them to treat our intelligence with some respect.  Anything less, and after a while, we’ll have been taught to discount their bold claims.

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