Another IE7 Review

Techwebs Internet Week has just reviewed IE7 beta1 here. The strong impression coming from this review is that although IE7 does not surpass FireFox, Opera, Safari and other competitors in its Web interface, it has improved – think tabs support, search toolbars and RSS processing plus security improvements.

In the security space I was surprised that the authors did not question what IE 7 was going to do about the use of ActiveX in IE – because that is one of the biggest security vulnerabilities in the product. Instead they showed as in the case of RSS, the anti-phishing features still dont work. Also on the question of security and reliability there is a natural question why IE7 does not adopt JavaScript 2 and E4X plus make DOM rationalizations like Opera and Mozilla have done -> deprecate all their non-standard extensions. Both of these measures would considerably enhance the security and reliability of IE7 because of the better and cleaner coding possible (no more correcting for with If(IEBrowser){ //do this chunk of code } else { //do this for all other browsers} ).

But the authors shied away from these topics and the whole issue of IE7 fixing and catching up to Web interface standards and emerging technologies. Not even a word on the Red Herring issue of CSS compliance.

Instead, the reviewers took what is curiously close to the Microsoft line on IE7 beta 1 – the IE7 beta 1 surfaces only about 25% of the features in the program. Right.

As far as Web Standards go, all we know from Redmond is that IE7 team will try to fix about a dozen CSS bugs but is not committing to any of the broader CSS 2 or 2.1 wish lists. Also IE7 will not come close to meeting the ACID2 set of Web browser validations (which Safari and Opera are passing, Firefox is committed to passing) because Redmonds IE7 team has acknowledged they have fundamental compliance problems and have not indicated any of those will be in the “75% of features” yet to be exposed in IE7.

Whats in the other 75% of Features in IE7

Obviously Web standards compliance is pretty low on the totem pole although the WaSP people are “holding out” for more CSS goodies and that is all. This is really shortsighted. It is plainly too bad because E4x, DOM rationalization, and SVG among others are in WaSPs , web developers and even Microsofts interest to be achieved.

So is it going to be a big, new security feature ? Perhaps tying in with Microsofts anti-virus and spyware purchase. A real possibility.

Or maybe new download support – Mozilla and Opera do a much better job, and there is a securiy component here – which Redmond is trying to sell. Or pehaps some new XML support – SVG again is overdue given that Safari and Mozilla are putting it natively in the browser, no plugins required. Or maybe a closer tie in with Offices new XML storage format. Much more likely.

Perhaps there are more interface improvements – given Vistas XAML, the IE7 crew could unleash some real GUI Glitz and on short notice here.

So – see, just speculating about whats in the other 75% of IE7 has helped you forget about IE7s continuing Web standards shortcomings. You know – who is adding 15 to 40% more time to your Web projects. Who is thwarting all serious progress in the web browser interface. Who continues to reject XFORMs, Full PNG and JPEG2000. Who neglects E4X and JavaScript 2 which could bring not only greater security but also reliability and much faster coding. Who rejects all rationalization and simplifying of the DOM object APIs. Who adds to your web development workload with carefully crafted DHTML, DOM, JavaScript and Java incompatibilities.

But you, dear reader, can change all this. Just switch out of IE. Take control and take the Web to better places by using a non-IE browser.

(c)JBSurveyer 2005