The rumours are starting to fly thick and fast about the upcoming IE7.0. Although Microsoft have only said that the new version of the browser will focus on security issues, the web development community has been hoping that MS will take the opportunity to improve some of the areas in which IE lags behind its competitors, such as CSS support and user interface. Although entirely unconfirmed, suggestions are starting to leak out from Microsoft partners who may be seeing early versions of the browser. Microsoft Watch write that IE7 will have tabs, International Domain Name support, and a built-in RSS aggregator. Moreover, it will be able to correctly display transparent PNGs. The big question for the web community, that of better support for CSS, remains rather up in the air; it looks like the IE team will improve CSS support but won’t at this stage commit to implementing the whole of the CSS standard.
While an improved Internet Explorer should be a cause for rejoicing, it doesn’t mean that the world suddenly becomes entirely rosy. Not every Internet Explorer user will upgrade to IE7, especially since the new version will only be available to Windows XP SP2 users. The Counter’s browser stats for February 2005 show that IE6 has about 80% of the market, with IE5.x and Mozilla/Firefox holding approximately another 10% each, and other browsers at 1% or less. While browser statistics are notoriously unreliable for making proper decisions, they can give a rough air; IE5.x has about as much public usage as Firefox does, and we’re not about to ignore Firefox. It’s likely that a similar trend will apply to IE7; even assuming that Internet Explorer maintains its very dominant market position, we’ll have IE6 (and probably IE5) to support for some years yet.

  • Dangermouse

    Their stance on implementing standards is an utter joke. I for one wont be downloading it, when and if its released.

  • It might be a joke, but whether or not you download it, millions of other users will. And they, unfortunately, make up the market.

    Why couldn’t MS just swallow their pride and use Gecko? It would make my life a lot easier.

  • mudkicker

    They [u]have to[/u] improve CSS aiblity of IE, I think that should be the one of top reasons.
    If not, I think I and even many people continue using Firefox.

  • Michal Stankoviansky

    I hope that Microsoft realizes that if CSS support isn’t improved, IE7 will get a lot of negative publicity from the developers and web designers. Hopefully that is enough of a motivation for them to drastically improve the standards suport.

  • 6 versions, a shedful of security patches and they have to release yet another version that mainly focuses on “security issues”.

    I don’t care what size Microsoft’s marketing budget is, that just does not sell it for me.

  • DeweyW

    IE 6 has such a large following because it is ‘built into’ Windows. Although anyone could download and install a better browser (FireFox/Mozilla) they opt for what is there, either because they are too lazy or unknowledgable about computers to realize how easy it is.

    For the same reasons, I doubt many people will download and install IE 7. the only way a large number will get it is if MS makes it an automatic update, making people think that they must have it.

    We will then see many press releases on how many installations of IE7 have been made.

    I guess MS will no longer be able to swear in court that IE is an un-removable part of the OS.

  • Bahamut

    I think for some people this is too little too late. Firefox has already has tabbed browsing, great security, and good overall support for CSS standards. Why switch back to IE when 7.x is merely a catch-up effort?

  • A catch-up effort or not, if IE7 has even most of what the alternative browsers on the market offer, they they will probably regain their lost market share. The “non technical” users won’t see a reason to switch when they read “improved security… with tabs!”.

    As for the CSS, that really bugs me. They are hindering the development of the entire internet because they “think the CSS2 standard is flawed”. One way or another, it is the standard and they’re only setting everyone back.

  • Kusanagi

    I don’t believe its installed base will reach critical mass any time soon. It’ll run on XP SP2 only. People will have to actively download it and as browser are a low-involvement product for most people not too many will – because people who care use Firefox anyways ;-)

    End-user don’t care about “standards-compliance” anyway. They want the stuff they see on the web to look good.

  • “The big question for the web community, that of better support for CSS, remains rather up in the air; it looks like the IE team will improve CSS support but won’t at this stage commit to implementing the whole of the CSS standard.”

    You know what? I say too little TOO LATE. If they are still on the fence regarding CSS support that has been around for years elsewhere .. screw these guys. I see the w3c stats on FF are still growing at approx 1% a month.. 19 > 20 > 21%!

    IE 7 .. ha I shake my stick at your lousy upgrade. FF version >> 1 < < is better.

  • nate

    What really bugs me about IE not fully supporting CSS is that Microsoft is PART OF THE W3C!!! A pretty influential member, obviously. They are a part of the organization creating the standards, and yet they completely disregard those standards as they see fit. Just because it’s easier to leave out support for anything they don’t care about, Microsoft is letting Internet Explorer stagnate – and they’re doing all of their users an incredible disservice. Gates & Company could learn a lesson from Spiderman; “With great power comes great responsibility”

  • It’s pretty simple.. Numbers talk – We saw it 10 years ago when Windows 95 came to market and knocked out the vastly superior OS/2 operating system. And we saw Netscape fail against IE in the past.. And in due time, we’ll see IE7 put the final nail in Firefox’s coffin. Life goes on, deal with it.

  • One of things I was discussing a couple of days ago in was the * html hack for IE. If IE7 fixes this hack (bug?), and doesn’t improve most of its CSS support how are we going to fix all the IE flaws that remain?

    If they don’t fix the * html hack/bug and do improve CSS support then how are we doing to differentiate between IE6/7 and hence fix the bugs in IE6?

  • mx2k

    if you go read ie’s blog, you’ll see that they plan to fix the box model issues and other current rendering bugs, so hopefully that will lessen the need for hacks

  • I think its rather funny (or rather, disconcerting) that many say they won’t download IE7 because it won’t be as good as FF.
    Unless you’re psychic, it’s impossible to say whether IE7 will be better or worse.
    To quote PPK (see last post in this blog for a link):
    “Explorer 3, 4, 5 and 6 were all leaders in CSS support at the moment they were released.”
    That’s not to say it will be the same with IE7, but who knows? What if it really is better than Firefox? Won’t you switch (back) to it, just because it comes from Microsoft?
    Just my (unbiased) opinion.

  • stylo~

    >To quote PPK (see last post in this blog for a link): “Explorer 3, 4, 5 and 6 were all leaders in CSS support at the moment they were released.”

    And you’ll see posted below that that was very incorrect. IE6 was definitely not a leader, don’t think ie5.5 even was, was it?

  • Jeremy Dunck

    I won’t be switching back unless it is quite compelling. Which, to me, means its as good a web dev environment, integrates with delicious, allows RSS fed bookmarks, and has an open and collaborative extension market.

    I remain skeptical. :)

  • I wont be using it, I uninstalled SP2 due to it causing major slowdowns on our PC’s.

    This is another stupid way MS is manipulating people into upgrading their opertaing systems…if you dont have XP + SP2 you can’t have IE7, how self centered and stupid is that? They are excluding millions of people and businesses that dont use XP

  • Bahamut

    I think it’s safe to assume that many (even most) people use IE not because it’s the best browser out there, but because they simply don’t know any better.

  • Tim G (pactumgroup)

    1. Okay, I’m thankful for png.

    2. Microsoft is a key part of the development of the CSS standards. They have the responsibility to implement them.

    3. Contra some opinions above, this is not 1997. Although as long as Windows is the dominant OS, IE will be the dominant browser, the days of virtual monopoly are gone, simply because a lot more people are a lot more knowledgeable – and many of them have learned that knowledge the hard way. I envision that IE will “level off” at somewhere around 70% of the browser market within the next couple of years. (This assumes that Linux and Mac don’t make some major inroads into Windows territory.) It would be a different story if all these other browsers cost money, but they don’t.

    4. There is no problem coding for IE 7 differently from previous versions. That’s what conditional comments are for. Use than the “less than or equal to” condition (lte).

    5. The box model was already fixed in IE 6 – it only renders incorrectly in quirks mode. I seriously doubt many web developers want IE 7 to change that issue in quirks mode – it would break too many of their sites. The real answer is to built standards-compliant sites.

    6. When it comes down to it, we’re still just guessing. Microsoft does what Microsoft wants.


  • HardCoded

    Let me be the first to announce that I detest tabbed browsing. I can’t undertand why it would play any role at all in this discussion. For me there are only two things that I care about in a browser: standards compliance and extensibility. These, plus security and small footprint, are things you want in any app.

    If I’m an idiot who for some reason likes to blow up alt-Tab for the sake of the inane ‘tabbed browsing’, let me have the tools to plug such a thing into my browser as an extension, or even better, the tools to write such an extension. The power of this is demonstrated by FireFox, where things like the WD toolbar or LiveHTTPHeaders are the coolest things since telnet.

    Let’s face it, the 100% number one reason we look forward to IE7 is to see how much CSS support they’ll be able to slap into it. They should totally forget about marketing crap like tabbed browsing and just focus on what we need to be happier, more productive nerds.

    By the way I wasn’t aiming this at anyone here rather at the billion “tabbed browsing” bleats over at that IE blog.

  • jon pollard

    End users don’t even know what a browser _is_. They switch on the computer and double click ‘the internet’. These are they people we are building web sites for and we have to cater to whatever browsers they are using.

  • I agree Jon, however, we can help educate the masses by joining the Spread Firefox campagin.

  • Which browser developers choose to browse with is immaterial. Very few that use FF now will change back, but developers are a miniscule (no doubt disproportionatley influential) percentage of the market.

    The major point is that by year’s end the majority of new PCs that are a whisked from store shelf to home office and teenagers bedroom will have (presumably) better CSS and PNG support.

    Everyday that ticks by those new PCs will be replacing (or at least downgrading) older PCs with crappier browsers. Like Netscape 4’s demise, no single day will be castastrophic for IE5/6, but each day will bleed it a little closer to the white light. And each new day there’s a tiny bit less reason to fully support the older browser. One morning you find there’s enough.

  • nathanb

    Deciding whether or not IE7 will be good at this point is ridiculous – the program isn’t out yet! And most people don’t care about their browser. What is the motivation for Joe Sixpack to learn about the different browsers and why they should use a specific one? Wouldn’t they rather just play on the internet? Heck, I’m a technical guy and the only reason why I’m using FF is because I was tired of all the security patches and problems with IE. Microsoft’s real goal here, one that they have been aiming at across all of their products and platforms, is to enhance the security level of their products. Whether or not they will add better CSS support is peripheral to their agenda here. So far, IE7’s announcement is nothing but a _good_ thing, because when it comes down to it, more secure browsers are more important than implementing every minutiae of CSS standards. And to the complaint about Microsoft

  • codeninja

    How MS can fix IE by leveraging the Open Source Community and still retain the control they so desperately cling to:

    Fixing IE is not that difficult

  • medicated

    I guess we can just say better later than never. As far as a bug-fix release, this sounds pretty good. There’s really no reason for most of these features to not already be implemented.

  • burnjob

    MS bringing out a new browser is a good thing … any improvement in technology can be a good thing … any improvement to security should be a good thing.
    MS implementing tabbed browsing is due to many complaints/requests for them to do that … so it’s a good thing cuz it shows that MS is starting to listen to consumers – yay!
    Better support for CSS is good – MS not providing full support for CSS is not as good but it is true to their business model … get the product on the shelves and fix it later … MS will likely provide full support for CSS and comply with the standards … just won’t be right away cuz they want to flood the market with their product and ensure that the masses are using their product.
    IE will continue to rule the browser market for a long time to come due to it being bundled with Windows – and most companies/consumers use Windows – so naturally their browser of choice will continue to be IE as many consumers really “don’t” know any better or know “anything” else … whether that is good or bad is irrelevant … it’s the way it is.

  • nesbitd

    From a non-nurd pov l think that it’s more than overdue for MS to link up with the open source community to optimise and improve IE.

  • While FF developers are already planning to include CSS3 support in the next few months, IE7 developers don’t even bother to provide fully standards-compliant CSS2 support.

    Tabbed browsing and a built-in RSS aggregator (pretty easy to develop features I guess) are more important for them. Fine. Why bother with restructuring the rendering engine ?

    “They focus on security”… Do they have some key to ‘Perfect security’? No one does. It all depends on the user. If a user constantly downloads some “Live camera software” or “Video plugin signed by Microsoft” – the browser won’t stand those attacks. Microsoft will add extra barriers for adware, spyware and viruses, but the brains out there will find a way to overcome those barriers once they see them.

    I think that a browser should be focused on teaching its users while not distracting them. It’s a tough task.

    IE can lose its market share if website developers start using latest standards supported by FF in their websites (which will make their job much easier btw). Once Joe sees that a website looks (and works) much better on his neighbour’s browser – he will ask the neighbour to install the ‘same thing’ on his PC and mark the shortcut as “The Internet”. Joe just took back the web :)

  • ringo sliznik

    Did you guys read the opening blurb at the very top of this page? Everything you hear at this point is rumor. No one really knows what MS is going to do with IE7 until we hear an official statement from them.

  • It’s not that people will see websites working “better” in FF. What they’ll see is a site not working in IE. What they’ll think is: stupid people can’t even make a website. They will shoot the messenger, not the medium. Suck it up and smile, folks.

  • scattermachine

    Whatever happens, many developers will have to learn the new hacks associated with IE 7.0 and continue thier career/hobby of Internet development.

    Half the fun will be complaining about it…

  • “I agree Jon, however, we can help educate the masses by joining the Spread Firefox campagin.”


  • Peter Johnston

    I can’t understand the IE is better than Firefox and vice versa argument – I use Opera as it has a killer app… I can click on several links on an e-mail and when I switch to web site view they’re all lined up, downloaded for me to browse at my leisure. And I mean at my leisure – I can even turn the machine off and when i restart they will all reload for me. How cool is that? And why use a browser that doesn’t do it. I have loads of regularly used websites permanently up and others on one click – no finding in a folder and scrolling down a list.
    If you ask for Dreamweaver help from Opera, however, it tells you it is an unsupported browser – what hope have we got when macromedia is forcing us into second rate browsers?

  • I really think that this is a win-win situation: If the new version is crap then people will continue to move towards FireFox, if it is great then the world will be a better place.

    The only people who need to be concerned are those who rely heavily on the various CSS hacks to make things work right – this is no better than browser version sniffing, and will run into all the same issues that has always caused.

    My biggest problem, as a developer, is how do I run this? I don’t want to downgrade my PC from Win2k to XP, so I hope that BrowserCam is on the ball.

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