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IE7 locked down

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Microsoft has announced the IE7 code lockdown, which means the company is preparing to send out a release of the browser. The site has listed all of CSS bugs fixed, as well as those not CSS related (such as PNG alpha channels).

Will IE7 satisfy all the critics? Unlikely, and the announcement addressed this by acknowledging that not all of the MS proprietary extensions were ‘fixed’:

We understand that we are far from being done and we know we have still a lot of work ahead of us. IE 7 is a stepping stone in our effort to improve our standards compliance (especially around CSS). As an example, in the platform we did not focus on any proprietary properties – though we may try out new features in the future using the official –ms- prefix, following the CSS extension mechanism. We also work very closely with the W3C CSS working group (which I am a member of) to help clarify assumptions in our implementation and drive clarifications into the spec. I really like to thank everyone who helped us here.

This is an important update, and if all the bugs aren’t fixed, it is an improvement over IE6 by orders of magnitude. I can’t tell you how long I spent on the Creeping Text bug before I discovered what was causing the problem and how to fix it. And that’s only one of the CSS problems that used to make me long for tables and FONT. For better or worse, IE is still one of the most dominant browsers and anything to improve on its support for CSS is a step in the right direction.

What’s next will probably be a series of release candidates, and then, eventually, a production release. As for rollout, Microsoft’s intentions are to make the IE7 an automatic update for Windows 2003 and XP. The only problem is there are still many Windows 2000 installations for which there are no IE7 upgrades. We can’t get rid of IE 6 until people are moved off of (or forced off of) Windows 2000; people using this operating system have no choice, other than to go to Firefox or Opera or some other browser. They need to do so because if the number of IE6 users decreases far enough, web sites will no longer provide the ‘quirky’ CSS in order to support this browser.

I thought the team’s announcement was honest, and I liked the explicit listing of what’s fixed, what isn’t, here’s where they’re going, and here’s some tools to help. That’s it: no marketing, no ‘better than sliced bread’ hooplah. If I fault MS on any thing it’s this: they should have focused on IE as browser, not IE as operating system extension. If they had, we could have pushed for an across the board IEx update. However, what’s done is done, and time to move on.

The IE7 team also warned that pages are going to break, and have provided a set of tools to help people going forward.

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