By Nicholas Rougeux, posted on February 16, 2005 in Browsers

As if I could resist mentioning the recent announcement of IE7. Just yesterday at the RSA Security conference, Bill Gates announced that a beta the next version of Internet Explorer will be made available this summer.

I happened to stumble on the post made at IEBlog only minutes after it was annouced. Didn't I feel so gosh darn special? I'm not often lucky enough to catch news as it happens like that.

Anyway, it was announced and almost instantly, the blog post was overflowing with feedback coming from both parties and everyone in between. It's amusing to see how vehemently some poeple are for or against IE. I used to be of the party who was for it but when I discovered Web standards, I did a 180 and was completely against it. Now, I'm mostly for using alternative browsers such as Firefox, Opera, et al but I don't scream my distaste with IE from the hilltops.

This mention of a new version comes at little surprise considering the success the alternative browsers are having. I worry though, that Microsoft is going to do what it does best and use others' ideas as their own. That's how most of the computer industry works. Firefox wasn't the first to implement some of its features but it did a great job doing so. I can see Microsoft doing the same but I can't see them doing it so successfully. They certainly do need to play catch-up though. From a developer standpoint, IE is severely lacking in many areas. The only reasons I use it is testing Web sites for compatibility and some sites that "require" their users to use it. From a user standpoint, security is a big issue and more security can definltely be a good thing but not when to the point of having to click OK five times just to download a file. This actually happened during the keynot at the conference when someone was demonstrating the new security "enhancements" that came with Service Pack 2 for Windows XP.

If Microsoft implements some key features, this new version could be a wonderful thing for everyone, not just developers. Right now, while CSS allows developers plenty of freedom, the richer features such as those in CSS2 an CSS3 could really give users a great experience on the Internet. The problem is that IE doesn't support them very well and since the majority uses IE, it can never have this richer experience. If the new IE supports these features and a host of other ones along the same line like standards mode, PNGs, etc., developers can give the rest of the world the environment they've been wanting to create for the past few years. I'm a little concerned about not hearing any mention of these features but keep in mind this was announced at a security conference so it makes sense that the brief mention only concerned security enhancements.

I'd like to believe that this is a critical time for Microsoft and IE. I'd like to believe that if they implemented these improvements because they want users to have a better experience using the Web than ever before and help the developers stop pulling their hair out. I'd like to believe that if IE7 will be the answer to our prayers and improve our opinion of it and Microsoft. I'd also like to believe that the world is a perfect place and nothing ever goes wrong. Unfortunately, these things aren't very likely to happen but I can hope.

Will these improvements happen? I'm not holding my breath but it'd be great if they did.

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