Avalanche

So. Bill Gates has announced that Internet Explorer 7 is coming, according to the “IEBlog announcement”:http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2005/02/15/373104.aspx as an update available to XPSP2 users, with a beta release this summer, and an additional beta to be released later.
I don’t think that’s going to help Microsoft, though. You can’t stop an avalanche.


h3. Security
The IE7 blog says:
bq.. This new release will build on the work we did in Windows XP SP2 and (among other things) go further to defend users from phishing as well as deceptive or malicious software.
Why? Because we listened to customers, analysts, and business partners. We heard a clear message: “Yes, XP SP2 makes the situation better. We want more, sooner. We want security on top of the compatibility and extensibility IE gives us, and we want it on XP. Microsoft, show us your commitment.”
p. I certainly do applaud that security will be taken seriously by the IE team. Currently, browsing with IE currently has a lot in common with having unprotected sex while in “highly promiscuous mode.”
One of the things I hope to see, with regard to security, is that installation of ActiveX components will become (near) _impossible_ without the component being signed by Microsoft.
h3. New features
I fully do expect Internet Explorer to grow some new features, to bring it on-par with current competition from Opera and Firefox. I do expect to see both tabbed browsing and RSS support. In addition, I also suspect that they will add full-page zoom, since this technology is “already in IE6”:http://msdn.microsoft.com/workshop/author/dhtml/reference/properties/zoom.asp
However, I don’t really expect Microsoft to revolutionize the browser UI. They didn’t do that with IE2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. Roughly, they just imitated their current competition. Which they will do again.
h3. Standards
Ah. Here’s my main issue: I don’t think IE7 will make any significant fixes to their standards support.
* They can’t afford forcing all their corporate customers to write their web applications all over. The total cost of rewriting Intranet applications will likely end up in the “Billions of dollars” range, and if corporations are forced to rewrite, you can be pretty sure that _they will write cross-browser applications._ The corporate world is something Microsoft specifically don’t want to loose.
* A standard-compliant IE would alse force any maintained public website to be rewritten to use Web standards. If web sites just worked, whether you opened them in Firefox, Opera, Safari or any other browser, Microsoft would no longer have a strangle-hold on the private users. There would really be nothing that kept people from choosing Linux or OS X over Windows.
There’s also the same quote:
bq. We want security on top of the compatibility and extensibility IE gives us
I read this as “We’ll fix security issues, but we won’t fix page rendering”. The only page rendering issue I believe _may_ be fixed is PNG display, because it can be fixed without significant breakage of existing applications or web sites.
h3. Avalanche
But, gazing into the crystal ball: I don’t really think IE7s release is of any real significance. With some interface and security improvements, IE7 mainly poses a threat to the many IE skins out , such as Maxthon or similar. It won’t be a threat to Opera or Firefox. Neither will it stop people from switching to Mac or Linux.
Plus, as the title indicates: There is an “avalanche”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avalanche underway. The movements in an avalanche are initially quite slow and small, but as the avalanche progresses it picks up mass, speed and energy.
Even ordinary, non-tech users are installing alternative browsers these days. I spoke to one of them yesterday: He had tried Opera, gone back to MSIE because his bank’s website didn’t work properly in anything but IE. And finally, he had gone back to Opera again: He simply didn’t trust IE anymore.
h3. Related
I’m not the only one who’s written some words or covered this:
* “IEBlog: IE7”:http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2005/02/15/373104.aspx
* “Roger Johansson: IE7 is coming”:http://www.456bereastreet.com/archive/200502/ie_7_is_coming/
* “Asa Dotzler: ie 7 this summer?”:http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/007564.html
* “Peter-Paul Koch: Explorer 7?”:http://www.quirksmode.org/blog/archives/2005/02/explorer_7.html
* “Web-Graphics: Browser news – from the Microsoft side”:http://web-graphics.com/mtarchive/001499.php
* “David Shea: IE7”:http://mezzoblue.com/archives/2005/02/15/ie7/
* “Sitepoint: Simon Willison: Internet Explorer 7”:http://www.sitepoint.com/blog-post-view.php?id=234459
* “D. Keith Robinson: IE7”:http://www.7nights.com/asterisk/archive/2005/02/ie7
* “Opera Watch: Microsoft Caves to Internet Explorer Critics”:http://operawatch.blogspot.com/2005/02/microsoft-caves-to-internet-explorer.html
* “Ars Technica: Internet Explorer 7 beta due out this summer”:http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20050215-4617.html
* “CNet news.com: Reversal: Next IE update divorced from Windows”:http://news.com.com/Reversal+Next+IE+update+divorced+from+Windows/2100-1032_3-5577263.html
* “The Register: Gates: security concerns propel IE7 launch”:http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/02/15/gates_rsa_2005/
* “Slashdot: IE7 Announced for Longhorn and WinXP”:http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/02/15/1756240
* “Microsoft: Gates Highlights Progress on Security, Outlines Next Steps for Continued Innovation”:http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2005/feb05/02-15RSA05KeynotePR.asp
* “bink.nu: IE Core Development Team: IE7 is comming!”:http://bink.nu/Article3461.bink
* “MozillaZine: Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0 Beta Due This Summer”:http://www.mozillazine.org/talkback.html?article=6079
* “Blake Ross: Microsoft hears 25 million people”:http://blakeross.com/index.php?p=54
* “Robert Scoble: Major News: Internet Explorer 7.0 announced by Bill Gates”:http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2005/02/15.html
* “Microsoft: Q&A: How Microsoft Is Keeping Pace with an Ever-Changing Security Landscape”:http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2005/feb05/02-15Updates.asp
* “Anne van Kesteren: Problems the new IE could cause”:http://annevankesteren.nl/archives/2005/02/ie7-problems
* “CNet news.com: Is Microsoft reacting to Firefox’s popularity?”:http://news.com.com/Is+Microsoft+reacting+to+Firefoxs+popularity/2070-1016_3-5577709.html?tag=nefd.ac

2 Comments

  1. They could fix IE7 for standards, but only use them if the site uses XHTML strict or 1.1+ as the docutype. IE6 doesnt really have that many problems just a few core ones, and once you know what they are and code properly ie6 becomes easy to code for. ie/mac is my daily headache 🙁
    We only only hope anyway.

  2. bq. “I also suspect that they will add full-page zoom, since this technology is already in IE6.”
    That is as may be, but have you ever tried to use it? Pretty buggy. I’m sure it is now a forgotten feature.
    I have also heard that tabbed browsing is a definite no. To be honest I wouldn’t be surprised if there are very few improvements at all, merely the ones to combat security. After all, they’ll (assumedly) be using the IE6 rendering core, which as we know is full of bugs.
    Perhaps it’s just a marketing ploy to achieve the following:
    # Make people aware that they are working on a new browser and haven’t given up in this area
    # Offer a taster for Longhorn
    # Encourage people to upgrade to XP SP2
    Alas it also means we are stuck with IE6 even longer. That’s because loads of people will continue to use Windows 98 and XP SP1, the people who refuse to upgrade. So they will not be using IE7 any time soon.
    I just hope Microsoft don’t nick too many ideas from Firefox and claim them to be their own innovations.