Internet Explorer 7

9 comments | Posted: 29 September 06 in Tutorials, by Michael Montgomery

Seven Things To Do When IE7 Is Released

Internet Explorer 7 logo

Someday soon, Microsoft is going to release Internet Explorer 7, their first major browser upgrade in five years. Those in the internet business have anticipated it for a while now, discussing and scrutinizing it. If you don’t follow the latest internet events, you may wonder what I’m talking about.

Background:

Internet Explorer (IE) is the browser with the most market share, about 94% in mid-2004 and slowly descending to about 80% or less today. More information on browser trends and statistics is available. IE’s strong showing is mainly due to default installation on every new Windows PC, and being the default browser for the AOL service.

…the IE rendering engine runs pretty rough in spots

However, web designers and developers have long objected that it displays web pages incorrectly, in conflict with the W3C specifications. In other words, the IE rendering engine runs pretty rough in spots, so bad that there’s almost a cottage industry producing and documenting techniques for fixing or “patching” these problems.

The web industry is so interested in IE7 that there are detailed discussions about the smallest details, including whether a particular bug will be fixed, exactly how IE7 will be released, etc.

The good news is that the IE7 rendering engine fixes all kinds of bugs and other things, making it quite a capable browser on par with its competition:

Internet Explorer 7 … includes improvements in performance, stability, security, and application compatibility. Microsoft has also made enhancements to the fit and finish of the user interface, completed CSS platform changes, added language support, ….

On the other hand, many people argue that catching up is insufficient.

Seven Things To Do:

So, if you use Internet Explorer, here is a list of things to do when IE7 is released:

1. Do nothing. (or Install IE7.)
2. Check out the new interface.
3. Proceed with caution.
4. Enjoy new features.
5. Learn old features.
6. Surf with security.
7. Say goodbye to IE6.

1. Do nothing. If your operating system is Windows XP, and you subscribe to the automatic updates feature, IE7 will be distributed as a “high-priority update”. This means that when the final version is released later this year, it may automatically download and upgrade itself for you.

The reason it’s being distributed automatically is the added security improvements, and it will hopefully improve your internet experience greatly.

If your PC doesn’t automatically install it, let’s edit that first step:

1. *Install IE7.* Don’t hesitate. Don’t even think about it. Just do it.

IE7 interface

2. Check out the new interface. IE7 sports a whole new look and feel. The interface is prettied up and cleaned up:

Simple is good. A redesigned, streamlined interface gives you more of what you need and less of what you don’t. The new look maximizes the area of the screen that displays the web page.

3. Proceed with caution. You may be aware that the ability of IE version 6 and below to render web pages according to the “W3C specification”: was … less than optimal. Again, the good news is that a whole lot of those rendering bugs are fixed with IE7.

The not-so-good news is that millions of web pages were built to overcome those bugs, which will disappear in IE7. So, please realize that some of those pages may look a little funny after you upgrade to IE7. Some things will be too big or too little, or shifted out of place, or even overlap something else.

Don’t worry, web designers are already busy testing and tuning their sites to accommodate, and everything will settle down quickly.

4. Enjoy new features, such as:

Search box

Search the Internet directly from the browser frame using your favorite search provider with the instant search box.

5. Learn old features, such as:

Note: Current browsers (including IE6) already do this. But many people don’t know, so it’s news to the average person.

6. Surf with security. Security is supposed to be a priority in IE7. Hopefully their efforts at making Internet Explorer more secure will “just work.”

Speaking of security, IE7 has a new security feature which tries to alert you of possible phishing sites. The term “phishing” refers to criminals who want to “go fish” for your private information.

7. Say goodbye to IE6. And don’t look back.

In the meantime, better browsers are available

Alternatively, you don’t need to wait for IE7 to get a better browser now. There are several excellent choices:

Lots of good browsers out there. Most of them tuned up their rendering engines a long time ago, and have different features and benefits.

An amusing discussion about browser choices, in the form of a hypothetical “persona” who chooses each browser, tries to answer: What does your browser reveal about you?

Which to choose for now? I recommend Firefox, to everyone who will listen.

Conclusion

There’s a lot of excitement about IE7, and for good reason.

In summary, the situation is fairly simple:
IE6 is essentially obsolete, and IE7 is much better.
(But other browsers may already be there.)

Discuss This Topic

  1. 1 Larry Tomlinson

    Having been testing out the beta for IE7, if it doesn’t get any better, I say stick with Firefox. :) And I must say (don’t ask me for specifics) I’ve found a few rendering bugs, so all this talk about all the bugs being fixed is rubbish. I guess one thing I like about IE7 is the interface. Nice and pretty :)

     
  2. 2 Ryan

    Great write-up. I’m dreading the release, but some simple preparation will make the transition a lot easier. Thanks Michael.

     
  3. 3 Ryan

    I just install IE7, and I have to say, I’m actually somewhat impressed. It definitely looks a lot nicer than IE6. I used to leave my Mac to pull up my pages in Windows and would cringe at how everything looked. Not the browser rendering errors, mind you (that’s always an issue too), but just the overall appearance of everything was choppy and pixelated and ugly. IE7 is a lot prettier to look at. Also I’m fortunate to have almost never in any of my designs used a hack for IE6. So far all of my pages have come up flawlessly in IE7. Go Microsoft!

     
  4. 4 Mike Montgomery

    Thanks.

    I agree; the interface does look much better.

    Among the fixes that I’m most excited about:
    # Min/max width/height support (also for images)
    # Transparent borders
    # Fixed positioning support
    # Selectors: first-child, adjacent, attribute, child
    # Alpha channel PNG support

     
  5. 5 Nathan Smith

    Transparent borders were always a tricky problem to work around. I’d usually end up doing padding to hold the position, then subtract that padding on hover, while adding a border. While it will still be awhile before IE6 is phased out, and we’ll be able to safely rely on these CSS features, I am glad that at least it’s a step in the right direction. As Mike alluded to, there are already much better browsers out there, but at least we know the baseline for the masses is improving. In other words, the water level at the bottom of the barrel is rising!

     
  6. 6 Mike Montgomery

    Microsoft has announced that IE7 will be released in October.

     
  7. 7 Scott Bram

    As dreamy as it is to imagine all IE6 users suddenly and miraculously using IE7, the reality is an overwhelming majority of site visitors will continue to be using a pre-version-7-IE for some time, just as you pointed out. This leaves all the non-standard rendering issues lingering like a toothache we can’t quite get rid of, but that eventually does mostly fade away after 6-7 years… (IE6 was released Aug. ‘01)

    That reality struck me when I installed one of the IE7 betas for compatibility testing while developing a site a while back. And though I may pride myself on passionately promoting web standards in practical, real world ways (largely to the churches I worked for and those I continue to work with), the fact is most clients just want it to look good and most visitors just want it to work right. And both want it to be fast.

    I think if we spent as much energy converting everyone we come into contact with to the use of existing compliant browsers as we do whining about IE’s rendering problems and writing fixes/hacks, the problem would be solved and we’d shrug when Internet Explorer “version 7.00PS!” finally caught up…

     
  8. 8 Mike Montgomery

    The big day has arrived, and IE7 has been released.

    One surprise for me is that it won’t work in Windows 2000, so I can’t use it at work. ::sigh::

     
  9. 9 Justin Schmidt

    IE7 works pretty well with my computer. I like being able to have multiple tabs, and it is more easy to use than IE6 was.

     

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