IE 7 Announcement: A Retrospective

I think it’s been about three days since Microsoft announced that they will release
a new version of IE. The announcement was so thoroughly blogged and discussed that
I didn’t bother blogging it myself (I was too busy reading what others had written),
but now that the dust has settled, I want to offer my two cents.

First, if you haven’t done so already, you might want to check out the official
Microsoft press release
. If you’re in a hurry, I’ll save you the trouble. Here’s
the most relevant excerpt:

Gates announced Internet Explorer 7.0, designed to add new levels of security
to Windows XP SP2 while maintaining the level of extensibility and compatibility
that customers have come to expect.

Next, read the post
on the IEBlog
. Again, I’ll save you the trouble:

…we listened to customers, analysts, and business partners. We heard a clear
message: "Yes, XP SP2 makes the situation better. We want more, sooner. We
want security on top of the compatibility and extensibility IE gives us, and we
want it on XP. Microsoft, show us your commitment."

What I’m hearing loud and clear here is that Microsoft wants to release a new
version of IE for XP, and they want to focus on security. Now read
the comments left in response to the post on IEBlog. They are far too numerous
to even paraphrase here, and it would probably take you all day to read through
them all, but just read a few at random and the message will be clear, which is
that security updates are fine, but what Microsoft really needs to focus on is
standards compliance and rendering. In other words, "maintaining the level of extensibility
and compatibility that customers have come to expect" is not what customers are
expecting.

Microsoft has put itself in an interesting position. They have publicly announced
that they are listening to their customers, and are committed to giving them what
they want, however they have also indicated that their agenda is not consistent
with what it appears their customers want. I will reserve judgment, but one thing
I will say is that it’s not yet clear to me whether Microsoft has created an
opportunity for themselves with this announcement, or for Firefox.

7 Responses to IE 7 Announcement: A Retrospective

  1. Mike Rankin says:

    “We hear your concerns; your request is in a queue and we will be doing nothing about it.” *click*.

  2. Paul Neave says:

    That’s about the most intelligent review of the IE7 announcement I’ve ever read. Thank you!I to was wondering why MS is placing all its emphasis on security when clearly what people want is a better browsing experience and better standards compliance. Unfortunately, there’s not a peep about that.

  3. Abel Rios says:

    Paul: Because the average consumer doesn’t care much about w3c compliance. Who do you see primarily gripe about standards issues with IE? Us! Which makes up for a smaller percentage…as opposed to the average consumer.All that Joe Schmoe needs to hear is ‘security’ and ‘reliability’ (which the rest of us know is malarkey), used in the same sentence as IE for Windows XP.I’m hoping MS saddles up and revamps IE’s rendering capabilities, as well as like you said ‘a better browsing experience’. It’s going to take a lot for me to even THINK about opening up IE again. A lot!

  4. Christian Cantrell says:

    Abel, I agree that MS is speaking to typical end users (and the media) as opposed to web developers when they talk about security. Unfortunately, by making this post to IEBlog, they have fed their end-user messaging to web developers, and web developers aren’t swallowing it. They may have painted themselves into a bit of a corner here.

  5. Ben Rogers says:

    I think you’re confusing Microsoft’s customers with developers. Often, as with VisualStudio, they are one and the same. However, in this case, the customers are individuals, corporations and small business. Though some may care about better CSS support, for instance, I believe most just want to be better protected from spyware, adware, trojans, etc. That’s just my opinion though.

  6. John Waller says:

    Ben R: well said.I think Explorers “customers” (that’s end users rather than developers) want to do their banking without fear of phishing scams, want to purchase online without fear of credit card details going to the wrong place, want to surf the web without fear of being hacked or getting unwelcome attention from rogue software.

  7. Dean says:

    Just read your comment to my post re IE7 on the IE team blog. You (and the others who said similar things) are right: I should have called out developers separately from customers and partners. I think of developers as both; I should have been more explicit. Sorry.