• 200709 Jan

    The latest issue of the UK's .net magazine features an interview (update: the interview is now available to read here) with the general manager of the Internet Explorer team, Dean Hachamovitch.

    He raises the point that not every internet user wants their browser upgraded every year, saying:

    During the open mic session [at the Mix conference], someone said "please don't ship a browser every year – I can't handle that"… [There] are people who say, "I'm using an extranet in order to get my billing done and I'm scared. I really don't want browser changes because this is how I get paid".

    I take the point, but first of all, five years is really pushing it! Second, I don't really agree; if a browser follows web standards to begin with, it doesn't matter how often it gets upgraded because those standards will still apply even when new features are introduced. It's because IE5 (and, to a lesser extent, IE6) were so poor in implementing standards that we ended up with websites that 'break' when faced with a standards-compliant browser.

    The IE team did a good job of phasing IE7 in slowly to allow developers time to make sure their sites display correctly, and now that we're finally on our way to a point where the majority of the public is using a standards-compliant browser to visit standards-compliant pages, there should be no reason they can't introduce the outstanding CSS2 declarations and push on to introduce more CSS3.

    The good news from the interview is that the team are already working on the next version of IE; hopefully they won't just patch the creaking Trident engine this time round, but will at least significantly rewrite it to make it suitable for the 21st century.

    You can skip to the end and leave a response.


  • Comments

    • 01.

      “Please don’t ship a browser every year – I can’t handle that” is truly the plea of someone who has to deal with IE — and pretty much only IE.

      I think the answer to the question is “as often as possible”, so long as upgrades are stable and don’t introduce new bugs. Safari does a lot of incremental upgrades, fixing what minor bugs there are and adding support for increasingly more of the CSS 3 spec. It just keeps getting better.

      IE, on the other hand, had one upgrade in 4 years, and managed not only to keep many of the bugs version 6 had, but also introduced whole new (and more obscure) ones, making web designers’ lives a real headache. I’d be happy if they just stopped updating the browser altogether, replacing it with something that works or just putting it to pasture.

    • 02.

      As often as possible, as long as I don’t have to notice it to much, would be my idea. Great article btw Peter!

    • 03.

      I think once every year is just right. Time for you to get to know the new version properly and time for some real improvements to be made for the subsequent version.

      Of course, security and bug fixes should be pushed as soon as possible.

    • 04.

      David says:
      I think once every year is just right. Time for you to get to know the new version properly.

      I disagree with this, and believe a much more frequent upgrade cycle (dependant on the development pace of your browser) would prevent you from ever having to ‘get used to’ any changes. They would creep in one at a time and you would be able to take them on board much more easily.

      I, for example, update my browser’s rendering engine to the latest code every 2 to 3 days. Areas such as SVG and CSS support have usually had at least one bug fix or new feature I’ll notice in that time. Other benefits that are harder to perceive include better and faster JavaScript support. Perhaps a website I visit wouldn’t have worked in an older version of my browser, but when I visit it works fine and I never even notice :-)

    • 05.

      As long as there is complete support for the CSS2 spec I don’t care how often the browser upgrades. I just want to be able to use code that has been valid for years and not have to ‘fix’ my sites. CSS3 would be nice, but not at the expense of complete CSS2 support.

    • 06.

      hopefully they won’t just patch the creaking Trident engine this time round, but will at least significantly rewrite it to make it suitable for the 21st century.

      I don’t want to burst your bubble, but I think what Chris Wilson says in one of his blogposts (speaking about HTML5, which defines error handling):

      [...] We (MSFT) can’t change error-handling at ALL, because we’re locked into compat. I don’t think what we do to handle errors is sane or a good idea, in many cases. I wouldn’t want it to be a spec, but at the same time we can’t change it in-place. “Implementable” is a good word.

      And:

      [...] if I support making the spec change like that, I’m giving Microsoft a Solomon choice – either break compatibility and screw your users, or ignore the spec and screw your developers.

      Is a good clue that Trident will never, ever, die (if MS maintains its market leadership).

    • 07.

      I am an IT student who is learning CSS with the book in the hand. I refer to the standards while I developed my first site with my Apple computer.

      My surprise came after developing and testing my site. In the browers I have installed in my computer it has been displaying correctly but when I showed to my friend it didn’t. The reason, IE6 handles my code and my css as it likes.

      Microsoft is giving me headaches now that I have to develop more sites for my university projects, I can avoid but get angry at them.

      For me the best solution would be to stop using their products and to induce to all the users to do the same, maybe this would make them change.

    • 08.

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