Excuse me Microsoft, the people have a beef.

Well-known figures of web development are calling out to Microsoft. The complaint is that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer on Windows doesn’t let users resize fonts if they are specified in pixels with stylesheets. The optional Font Size selection toolbar element in Internet ExplorerI’m not going to go into the details of the feature here, but it is an important accessibility issue, and they are right.

However, I’m more interested to see how, and if, Microsoft will reply to these demands.

Although many have asked for this before, the well-known Jakob Nielsen has drawn further attention to the issue with his Alertbox column; Let Users Control Font Size (he gets right to the point – you’ve gotta give him that). Jeffrey Zeldman rings in too, pointing out that designers are doing the best they can, and reiterating the demand to Microsoft. Scripting.com’s Dave Winer, JoelonSoftware.com’s Joel Spolsky, and many others join in as well.

It will be interesting to see if Microsoft is willing and able to respond to a demand like this. I’m not expecting them to ship a fix tomorrow morning, but it would be smart for them to at least acknowledge that they hear these demands. Is it even possible for a corporation of such girth to form a timely and human response to an issue like this?


8 thoughts on “Excuse me Microsoft, the people have a beef.

  1. IE is actually doing ‘the right thing’ for once, a pixel is a pixel after all. It’s just that so many developers have opted for pixels (ironically, some may have done so after reading Zeldman’s repeated comments about pixels being the only way) that the text sizing options have become useless.

    Hopefully more developers will start using ems, which do work well for many sites. Unfortunately when browsers crudely override pixel sizes just for text it breaks highly graphical sites where the developer has sensibly specified pixels to ensure text fits in amongst images without overflowing.

    It’s vital for developers to retain this control over the size of text relative to images. MS should either zoom the entire layout (which shouldn’t be difficult to implement, as Win IE already has CSS zoom, which is fairly similar in effect) or ignore these ‘demands’ and try to educate developers in how to use units other than pixels.

  2. A pixel is a pixel, unless it’s a standards-compliant pixel, in which case it only might be a pixel.

    Hopefully more developers will start using ems, and the idea that a web site should work entirely as the author intended because it’s a document, not software, will die a horrible painful death. But the ems are the important thing.

  3. Not that I know of. I use ems and percents, except for pure visual things like borders, which usually end up px. All my margins and padding are in ems and exes.

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