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.

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Comments, Trackbacks: 2 so far. Add yours!

  1. What I especially do *not* like is the part about 'evolution'... I *really* sincerely hope that they will not just add more band-aids to the Trident engine as it is. Maybe salvage it for the old crappy tag-soup (one could identify that quite easily) but *please* oh *please* build something for the people who *do* adhere to the standards that will implement them correctly without any quirks

    12:30 pm, pst 6 December, 2007Comment by SchizoDuckie

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  2. Hi, SchizoDuckie,
    Yes, I couldn’t agree more. I also hope their 'evolutionary steps' don’t take 1,000 years, either. ;-)

    Well, if they’d supported standards better all along they wouldn’t have that mess to clean up.

    I’m thrilled with the forward progress of IE7 - BUT it’s far from enough progress, as we know - especially now that we’ve worked with it for a little while now.

    Like many, I’m disappointed with what IE7 still doesn’t support with CSS, and it can be quite frustrating at times. That said, though, IE7 is still a WHOLE lot better than IE6.

    Looking back over the past 10+ years, we’ve come a long way with standards, thankfully. It’s now a very different world that way, but we’ve still got more to go with IE - at a minimum to at least to catch up with other current browsers.

    02:29 pm, pst 6 December, 2007Comment by Shirley Kaiser

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This discussion has been closed. Thanks to all who participated.

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