Why Internet Explorer 7 is a Bad Idea

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"As the flashbulbs burst, she holds a smile like someone would hold a crying child."
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Posted on April 01, 2005 11:52 PM in Browsers
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

About a year ago I was firing off a bunch of Internet Explorer 7 speculation, basically saying that by adding features like tabbed browsing and popup blocking and better support for CSS 2 and 3, Microsoft could reign in the web browser world yet again. Granted, that was before Firefox 1.0 shook that world to its foundation, and at a time when I still had faith in Internet Explorer.

Now that November 9th is behind us and real details are starting to surface about the impending release of Internet Explorer 7, I have a whole new perspective on things.

Internet Explorer 7 may be a bad idea. Microsoft should seriously consider what they're about to do.

First off, from a developer's standpoint, the biggest gain Internet Explorer 7 needs to make is in the area of CSS support. Without this, developers will not take the new version seriously, and will consider it to be to IE 6 what SP2 was to XP – pretty pointless.

So what of this particular potential for betterment? Internet Explorer 7's support for CSS will be as bad as that of Internet Explorer 6. Why? Because apparently better support is not possible.

As if that wasn't enough, let's look from a user's standpoint and see what Internet Explorer 7 brings to the table. From what I've heard, the IE team is busy working on tabbed browsing, PNG support, RSS integration and the like in an effort to play catch-up with better browsers like Firefox, Safari and Opera.

By doing so, I feel that the folks at Microsoft will be shooting themselves in the foot. Probably the only thing going for Microsoft right now is the fact that the other browsers are so unfamiliar to long-time Internet Explorer users. By adding support for the popular features of those other browsers, Microsoft is only making it easier for said users to make the switch to browsers that provide better support for standards, better security, and virtually the same feature set.

In my opinion, Firefox supporters should be rooting for Microsoft in this case. If the IE team does what it looks like it's going to do, I predict that Firefox will continue chewing up market share and the so-called two browser world will quickly become a thing of the past.

From the looks of things, security may be the only real thing going for Microsoft's next browser release. Is it enough, though? I think IE users have gotten all the security they need by switching to Firefox.

Who knows though? Last year, Internet Explorer was safe for a total of one week. Maybe after version 7 is released they'll be able to increase that stat to two weeks?

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