So it’s official: Microsoft have announced Internet Explorer 7.0 (more at the IE Blog). MozillaZine has some good background information so I’d encourage you to go there rather than me contributing further to the echo chamber. But the core difference is that this won’t be a Longhorn-only release, instead MS have done a U-turn and said that it will be available for Windows XP SP2 customers as well.
As a Firefox enthusiast I’ve obviously got my opinions about how this will affect Firefox. Asa has a good take on this but personally I don’t think it’s going to have a major effect in the long-run. Here’s why:
- It’ll only run on XP and Longhorn. Windows 2000 may get a look-in but the 5% or so running Windows 98 will be left out. Users of these operating systems will either have to upgrade to XP or can switch to Firefox.
- The beta is due this summer, but it’s likely that a final release may be as long as a year away. By that time, if current trends continue, Firefox will have been downloaded over 100 million times and command around 25% of the browser market.
- Unless IE7 offers some significant advantages over Firefox – faster startup/browsing, greater usability etc. – people are unlikely to switch back.
I’d have to agree to a comment on Asa’s blog that this sounds more like a ‘hang in there’ announcement. MS have realised that they’re losing users, and so have had to make a U-turn and then let people know that there is an update coming before everyone jumps ship.
What does remain to be seen is what changes to the rendering engine we can expect. Proper support for transparent PNGs? XHTML? CSS2?
Of course, this leaves Dean Edwards’ IE7 project needing a new name. 🙂
In the same announcement, Bill Gates said that Microsoft AntiSpyware will be free. It had been speculated that it would be sold as a commercial product after its beta cycle but now it’ll be free for everyone. Good news – it’s a very good program.