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Polluting the internet since 2004
February 16, 2005 | Web Design & Development
So, today Microsoft announced a new version of Internet Explorer is on the horizon: IE7. They say they’ve listened to their customers and are respoding to a great deal of end user input when putting together this update.
I get the feeling that they’re gonna put in a bunch of security and Windows integration options and not touch the rendering bugs that have plagued the browser for years.
So, here, I’m officially taking bets on what level of standards compliancy we’ll see in the new version of IE7. Will it fix rendering bugs? Will it fill out compliance with the CSS 2 specification? Will it properly handle XHTML & XML?
Only time will tell I guess.
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I read their blog entry myself. And I even read a good deal of their comments, many of which seemed to be posted by morans.
I predict that they’ll fix some of the biggies like the peekabo bug, and the list bugs. I think they’ll also support CSS2 completely, and a good bit of CSS3 (That will be undoubtedly be buggy). It simply has to. I know that I’m not alone when I develop web sites using techniques that only work for modern browsers. The web is changing, and more and more of use aren’t afraid to use design techniques that simply don’t render in IE.
When I read their blog entry, I read fear. I read reaction. They’re not releasing IE7 because they feel they it’s ready to wow the world, they’re releasing it because they’re losing their brand presence. They know that they are tanking, and they’re in a panic.
In terms of security fixes, it seems to me that Microsoft has two options that they can take. They can continue to push for ActiveX support and closer integration with the OS, or they can reverse that decision and make the browser a browser that does what just a browser does. If they choose to continue with the former, security will remain a constant issue for them, and they’re done for. If they decide to abandon their proprietary hackery, they could have a solid browser on their hands.
Putting all of my feelings for Microsoft aside, if they can reconjure the spirit of the Mac Business Unit and IE5:Mac, they’ll create an amazing product that’ll be widely embraced. But can they? Or perhaps more apt, will they? Their Windows development has always pushed for proprietary technology, and their current Intellectual Property business strategy reflects that trend.
So before this become much longer, Microsoft needs to shift. They need embrace W3C standards in IE7, and in Office’s html output. They have to accept that their proprietary strategies are failing them, and that Firefox gaining marketshare not only for security reasons, but because it supports a common standard for all web developers. People demand standards, people demand a democratic internet. Microsoft’s proprietary trickery of the past has been relegated to a niche market, and they need to recognize that if they want to compete.
Ya know, a year ago I would have probably written something close to that.
And no doubt that IE7 would not even be considered if FireFox had no turned out to be the monster success that it has become.
But working in a Microsoft environment at work I see the perpetuation of the MS way. Unlike you, I still fear that CSS2 will see little if any attention and that CSS3 will go wholly untouched in IE7. But I do admit to a high level of uncertainty. I just don’t know. But based on the current mentality in Redmond there is little hope that designers are the target of this new release.
But I could also be wrong – I guess the new tools for asp are generating cleaner code that is more cross platform compatible (that doesn’t mean CSS & xhtml compatible though), so there may be hope for IE7. But there is still enough to raise considerable doubt.
And coupled with the fact that they didn’t at all mention rendering or even web technologies at all in their statements but instead chose to use words like interoperability and security I fear that designers will be left making the same old hacks with IE7.
Shawn Parker, February 17, 2005 8:18 am | permalink
Call me cynical, but I have zero hope whatsoever that IE7 will make our lives as web developers any easier. Not only do I not think it will bring better standards support to the table, I can’t help but think that it will introduce new and exciting problems to fight with. While it is too late for me to actually come up with a real example, I’m positive that there are things about IE6 that work better in 5 or 5.5. That’s just how it always seems to go with MS. I just cannot understand how the biggest, richest, most powerful software company in the world is so utterly incapable of solving problems that much smaller, poorer, less powerful companies have solved years ago. I don’t know if it is politics or ego or incompetency or a combination thereof, but they could develop as well as they market, the world would be a better place for all of us.
All cynicism aside, let’s pretend that IE7 does fix the peekabo bug and the double floats and gets proper PNG support. So what? It isn’t going to change our lives one bit. Right now, the plan is for IE7 to be XP-onlyóand SP2, at that. Which means it is only going to supplant installs of IE6óthe IE that actually plays [mostly] nicely with our code. It isn’t going to do a damn thing for our box model problems in 5 and 5.5. It isn’t going to allow us to suddenly use those alpha channels we’ve been dying to use. We’re just going to have another version of IE to test with. The problem is that the internet boom is over. Average Joes and Judys aren’t going to be upgrading their 98 or Me boxes for a few years. Businesses are very happy with 2000. SP2 isn’t going to find its way to all of the XP installs.
Face it, if IE7 does everything we hope it does, we can rejoice all we want, we can spruce up our personal sites all we want, we can parade through the streets in praise of web standards all we want. And every morning when we go to work, we’re going to be developing websites for mass-market companies that have to work on that damn IE5 install at the CEO’s home because his family PC still "just works."
Wow, I guess all the cynicism wasn’t confined to the first paragraph after all. *shrug*
Joel, there comes a point at which we stop developing for a browser, e.g. Netscape4. I don’t develop for IE5, though I suspect that I would if I had one of those curmdgeony clients.
Anyhoo, if Microsoft is indeed releasing IE7 in response to Firefox’s rapidly growing popularity, then they’ll have to support at least the CSS Firefox supports. I don’t want to sound like a Microsoft cheerleader, but I know that they have the ability to make a good browser. I know they have the ability to make it standards compliant. And I know that they can support their proprietary gibberish as well as proper xhtml.
Standards comliance is simply not an option for them; it’s a requirement. Firefox’s standards support is making waves on the web, and IE users are missing out — and they know it. The die-hard fan boys will not switch, but that’s a niche. Niche browsers are seldom specifically supported. Case in point: iCab.
If Microsoft chooses however to ignore the W3C in favor of security fixes, no big deal. It’ll go the way of IE:Mac and just slowly fade away.
It is still way to early to count out IE no matter what happens. It is not unreasonable to require IE 5.5+ but to completely omit it when you code is actually pretty dumb – no offense. We can do it in our pet projects that we do for forums ’cause we hang out with Mac Geeks. But the fact still remains that the majority of hits to a business website (barring that it is a Mac specific business) will be from IE. So leaving it out now will be a futile effort is idealism. Even if IE just gets security updates IE will still probably have a high percentage of users. It very well could reach a number under 50% but that is still a shitload of users.
Look at Safari – even at a low market share it is still getting consideration by Google and such. You just can’t leave out support for a Major browser anymore especially considering that there are only 3 (yeah, I’ll throw Opera in there…)
shawn, February 19, 2005 7:57 am | permalink
I think some of what is included in ie7 will be dictated on how what they add slows down the rendering engine. In terms of speed, IE for windows is fast and there is no denying it. M$ might be reluctant to add more support for the standards in fear of killing off one of their big selling points, speed. With that said the hacks that many of us use does diminish that speed but will M$ acknowledge this? I doubt it. M$ is more like the minister of information in iraq then anything. They tell people what they want to be true and people seem to buy it. I have to cut this short because i must go to class and i will try to return to this later. I will be very curious to see what happens with ie7. I will hope for the best but expect the worst.
I feel an RFC coming up for ".iex" web pages…
<insert random IE bastardization here>
J2, February 22, 2005 8:17 pm | permalink
You’re actually asking if IE7 will suck?
pat, February 22, 2005 9:55 pm | permalink
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