Upcoming IE8: Interview with Bill Gates by Molly Holzschlag
Fascinating reading to be had about the upcoming IE8 via a new interview of Bill Gates by Molly Holzschlag: Conversation with Bill Gates about IE8 and Microsoft Transparency. Not long after the interview, the official IE blog also announced the upcoming Internet Explorer 8.
Despite Molly’s persistence, very little was discussed about its details in her interview with Bill Gates. We did learn that IE8 will have a new engine and that “there will be disclosure by MIX08.” All we learned via the official IE Blog was its new name, Internet Explorer 8.
Last May (2007) a bit more detail was divulged in an interview of Chris Wilson, IE’s platform architect:
Wilson said Microsoft intends to create a follow-on version, IE 8, within two years of IE 7’s release, which came out in October.
The priorities Microsoft set for IE 7, Wilson said, are the same for IE 8: strong security, ease of use and Web development improvements.
“It’s clear we have a lot to do with the Web developer platform,” he said addressing an audience of mostly Web developers at Mix.
Specifically, he said Microsoft will invest more in layout and adhering to the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) 2.1 specifications. He also said Microsoft wants to make its browser object model more interoperable “to make it easier to work with other browsers and allow more flexible programming patterns.”
In addition, he said the Ajax Web programming style needs more client-side application programming interfaces to allow developers to create more powerful applications.
“There’s work in the standardization bodies to do local storage and get better security models,” Wilson said, adding that Microsoft is working with the W3C on standardizing HTML version 5 and XHTML version 1 and 1.1.
He said adherence to standards is increasingly important to Web site developers but Microsoft is in a “challenging” position as it introduces more standards compliance.
Because previous versions of Internet Explorer strayed from standards, new versions of Internet Explorer, such as IE 7, have caused some Web sites to not work for end users, he said.
“Web development compatibility is really crucial for building applications and...for us to deploy browsers (but) it has to be an evolutionary step,” he said, noting that half a billion people use some version of Internet Explorer. “If we say, 'Here is your new browser—it’s standards compatible,' we actually disrupt the existing ecosystem and it doesn’t actually make it better for anyone.”
I wonder what Chris specifically has in mind for their “evolutionary steps” to bridge that gap between improving standards compliancy and not breaking sites. As they support standards better, they’ll greatly reduce the problems, especially in the long run.
In addition, Wilson mentions improved support for CSS 2.1 specifications. I hope they also consider CSS3, currently in draft - CSS3 has been in development since 2001 or earlier.
Since other browser makers are able to more fully support standards along with providing increasingly more desirable features for end users, we know that we’re not asking for anything that other browser makers haven’t already been doing for years. Microsoft Internet Explorer has been behind other browser makers in their overall browser technology for many years now, not just behind in standards support. Browser window tabs prior to IE7 are just one small but important example of end user features that other browsers have included for years that IE is now only recently providing.
While Microsoft’s recommended use of conditional comments has been a helpful approach to make adjustments for IE’s current and past CSS support failings, I wonder if Wilson has something else (or something better?) in mind. Either way, I do hope their upcoming IE8 results in improved support of W3C Recommendations. They improved IE7 substantially, even though we’re disappointed with what Microsoft didn’t include in their CSS2 support.
At the minimum, Microsoft needs to at least catch up with other current browsers while they also provide improved features for end users.
More on IE8
- Bill Gates is Tight-Lipped About Internet Explorer’s Future
[Article dated 11/06/2007, by Scott Gilbertson, Wired Blog Network Compiler.]
- Microsoft hints at general plan for IE 8
[Article dated 05/03/2007, by Martin LaMonica, for CNET News.com]
- Internet Explorer 8 Blog: Your guide to Microsoft’s next browser
Unofficial blog that’s tracking news on the upcoming IE8.
More on CSS
- Cascading Style Sheets Current Work
[Via CSS WG (Cascading Style Sheets Working Group, W3C.]
- Cascading Style Sheets home page
- Introduction to CSS3
“This document lists all the modules to be contained in the future CSS3 specification.”
[Dated 05/23/2001 via W3C.]
- CSS - Cascading Style Sheets Tutorials, Books, Resources
Quite a few pages with tutorials, W3C Recommendations, CSS book recommendations, and more. For CSS bug fixes, including conditional comments, see Solutions to CSS Browser Bugs and Cross-Browser, Cross-Platform CSS Issues.
- Cascading Style Sheet Compatibility in Internet Explorer 7
Microsoft’s site information. Covers addressing broken pages in IE7, user agent strings and browser detection, XML prolog bug affecting the CSS box model, box model changes, CSS filters, using conditional comments.
[By Markus Mielke and Dave Massy for Microsoft MSDN.]
- Details on our CSS changes for IE7
List of CSS features and changes for IE7, details on other bugs, extended some existing CSS implementations, added new features from CSS 2.1, provided better standards support, and more.
[Article/tutorial dated 08/22/2006, by Markus Mielke, for IEBlog.]
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