IE 7 is better but still lagging

In IE 7 - is catching up good enough?, Robert Nyman says pretty much what I think about the upcoming release of Internet Explorer 7: it is not ready for release.

Since the release of IE 7 beta 3, and more recently Release Candidate 1, I have been checking my work in IE 7 to see what breaks. There is a lot less breakage than in previous versions, and that’s great. Absolutely fantastic! Thank you, etc.

What is not so great is that there are still annoying bugs that haven’t been fixed, new bugs that have been introduced (see IE7: Old Bugs For New for more on that), and important features that are missing. In other words, it is still a pain to make things work properly in Internet Explorer.

Most importantly though, IE 7 will not even catch up to where other browsers were a couple of years ago in terms of CSS and HTML support. It’s incredibly frustrating to find important parts of CSS 2.1 missing (display:table et al., :before and :after, :focus, and :active come to mind) in a brand new browser, so I fully agree with Robert.

Dear Microsoft: Keep working on IE 7, and don’t release it until you’ve caught up with Firefox, Opera, and Safari. Actually, considering your update track record compared to that of your competitors, it would be preferable if you surpassed them by a healthy margin. They will catch up to and surpass you in a couple of months anyway.

Posted on September 28, 2006 in Browsers, Quicklinks


  1. Amen to that! Unfortunately though, I don’t think that Microsoft has their motives in the right place with this browser release. They aren’t worried about making life easier for developers or users. In my eyes, they’re only doing this (from a management standpoint) because they fear losing a majority in the browser market. So the managers are only going to let the engineers do the bare-minimum catchup job and then move them back to projects that actually make MS some money.

    The unfortunate side-effect is that this bane of a brrowser continues to make life miserable for developers and users everywhere. Ugh.

  2. The rendering engine we have in the pre-releases is all we’re going to get now, so the chances of there being any extra bug fixes or CSS 2 additions are basically non-existant.

    I think we’re lucky to be getting standards fixes anyway; mostly I think it’s (as Sean says) for marketing reasons, and for security reasons. Standards updates are just side-benefits.

  3. The problem is that Microsoft didn’t decide to update IE because a bunch of web professionals were complaining about CSS support. They started work on IE7 because they were losing ground to other browsers because users were changing to improve security. As far as I know, they have gone on to improve security and maybe we are lucky they decided to clear up a number of rendering bugs and add some more functionality in the areas we are interested in.

    Hopefully Microsoft will continue with updates and bring IE7 up to speed with web standards in the background, while their most important audience thank them for the extra security features.

    Bring on IE 8?

  4. So there will be no light at the end off the tunnel for webdevelopers. They will be losing ground to other browsers again in a few years, wat happens next ? IE8 webdeveloper-friendly edition, now with more CSS-support?

  5. I know what you mean. I’m delighted IE 7 will be less work than IE 6, but I guess any browser that’s released is a bunch of bugs we have to code around until no-one uses it any more. That could mean coding around IE 7’s bugs and omissions for the next 5 years, unless IE 7.5/8 comes out within a year and takes over IE 7’s marketshare.

  6. Roger could you give us an example site where those bugs in the pseudo-elements you mentioned are described? I found one for :before, but I’m more interested in the effects of :after and :hover.

    And to sum it up, I kinda feel like an idiot. All the time I’ve defended Microsoft when it came to IE7, all the time I said “Be patient, it will be better”, I didn’t gave a damn about statistics and so on - and now this. Seriously, I should have known better right from the beginning…

  7. September 28, 2006 by SchizoDuckie

    The problem is indeed: This is it! We’ll have to live with it for at least another year… Great huh?

    But! There’s ‘light’ at the end of the tunnel… MS has announced that they will be releasing yearly ‘major updates’ for IE.

    Don’t get excited yet… This means that every year they’ll probably be fixing some other part of e.g. css support, and rolling that out, which leaves us webdevelopers with in the end ~200.000 flavors of IE’s you have to actively support!

    Gooooo MicroSoft!

  8. September 28, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Jeriko One: No need for an example site - :before, :after, and :focus aren’t supported at all. :active is supported only for links (and incorrectly acts the same as :focus, just like in IE 6).

  9. September 28, 2006 by Carlos Bernal

    Months ago when Microsoft announced that they would improve their browser standards suppport, I predicted Microsoft would only go so far…just far enough to stiffle FF’s market share growth…here we are now.

    Let’s stop ragging on MS and instead push Firefox other browsers as well as push standards to the late adopters and laggards out there…then we’ll see MS follow.

    Complaining only goes so far…

  10. Oh lord…

    I’m sorry, but obviously no one has heard of the paradigm of Release Early, Release Often.

    2 years ago, MS said it was abandoning development on IE, and that version 6 was it’s last browser.

    Thankfully, the excitement and interest in Firefox and dent in usage stats spurred MS to recommit to development.

    Now you’re saying they should keep holding off until they catchup with “the rest” of the browsers.

    Unfortunately, you don’t seem to be in the trenches like the rest of us who will take any crumbs we can.

    The very fact that they’re committed to developing it further is enough for me to say they should release it now.

    Right now we’ll take all the bug fixes we can, and development and updates will hopefully come faster.

    But saying they should wait until they catch up with the other browsers is a tad bit retarded.

    They all have really annoying, really bothersome bugs (Safari being the worst of the worst). Asking them to hold off releases because it’s not perfect is a bad move, from a development standpoint, from a business standpoint, and from a user’s standpoint.

    Okay, I’ve said my piece. May the flaming commence.

  11. Nate: Allowing our entire careers to be confined by begging for scraps from Microsoft’s table does not offer hope of a sustainable future. We’ve been banging our heads off the desk for years on this. It has to stop - we want to move on.

    Personally, I’d like to see other browser manufacturers really make a concerted effort to knock a hole in IE’s market share in the business environment.

    Anyone I know browsing from home does so with Firefox or Safari, but almost everyone I know browsing in work is required to do so in IE because of corporate IT policy.

    I suspect that is where the core of IE’s share lies and to unseat it MoFo, Apple et al need to come up with solutions that IT departments can deploy easily and trust implicitly.

  12. September 28, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Unfortunately, you don’t seem to be in the trenches like the rest of us who will take any crumbs we can.

    Oh yes, I am, and that is exactly why I would rather wait than have yet another buggy, feature-incomplete version of IE to come up with all sorts of workarounds for.

  13. Skipped the comments: Please, do not forget the horrible UI. It really is one of the worst browser interfaces ever. IE 7 breaks so many established (browser) conventions that it’s incredible, and as much as I don’t get tired of saying that, I wonder about how few people actually notice, or better, complain.

    Hint: You ever wondered where the “File” etc menu is (right, press “alt” and stuff)? Why “Reload” is on the right, and “Forward” on the left, and “Home” below “Reload”, while “Back” is on the left? Huh?

    (Well, I didn’t open IE 7 now, so don’t grill me if couldn’t recall the exact position. You’ll know what I mean.)

  14. It would be nice if IE could be as good as Firefox at rendering and have a speedy (compared to IE) javascript engine. However, IE still renders very quickly and is still used by a lot of users (sigh). I don’t understand why they moved the buttons, it bothers a few people here at work who are use Vista with IE 7.

    Though I don’t understand waiting. Apple has not waited with Safari and they have some really bad bugs, especially with the javascript engine. I say let them release and release often (not sure every year is enough). Hopefully they will fix more than they break.

  15. This past weekend I have went to the Web Jam Session in Dallas and heard Chris Wilson of the IE Dev team speak. He said that what we got in RC1 is what we will have in IE7 Final. He said they are just waiting on the marketing team, and to be ready in the next month or so.

    He urged the developers to test with RC1 now, so when the update comes out we are not trying to fix all of our sites at once.

    In other news, 90% of my sites broke because IE7 passed my IE6 conditionals but still had bugs in the rendering.

    I am having to put IE7 conditionals along with my IE6 conditional. Thanks Microsoft!

  16. Aye - I ended up using both IE and IE7 conditionals in the Google Search Appliance XHTML Stylesheet.

    Frustrating, it is. (Yoda, I’m not.)

  17. I think the biggest problem with Microsoft deciding to release updates more often is that it means more versions with partially-implemented CSS support to cater to. Because new versions will rely primarily on Windows Updates to work their way onto user’s systems, some people will be using IE 7, some IE 7.5, IE 8, and so on — and I’m pretty sure CSS updates to IE won’t be considered “critical updates”. That’s why it would be better to wait until a fully standards-compliant version (it that’s even possible) is ready before releasing it.

    I’d be happier if IE 7 were just IE 6 with some security upgrades. Now I have another lousy implementation of IE to worry with.

  18. September 29, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Jens: The IE 7 UI is horrible indeed.

    Tanny: I don’t get where all this talk of Safari being really buggy is coming from. I use Safari as my primary browser and develop in that and Firefox, and it’s very rare to run into any problems whatsoever. On one occasion I had problems with redrawing after using JavaScript to hide and show certain elements, and… well that’s all I can think of right now.

    I’d like for someone to post a detailed list of the problems they are having with Safari so I can find out what they are, what causes them, and why I am not running into them.

    Thomas: Yes, having lots of versions with partial CSS support out there is not going to decrease development time.

  19. Slightly off-topic, but I have reason to believe that Safari’s javascript does not execute window.location.reload. Unfortunately I cannot test this myself, but if anyone is willing to give it try, point your Safari browser to

  20. Some proper abbreviation support would be nice too. Stubborn bastards

  21. I think the fact that a bug quite similar to the guillotine bug still exists speaks for itself: IE7’s “Let’s ignore the rules bug”

    They have not been making structural changes to the Trident engine. Instead, they’ve been hacking their way around a few well known bugs. This can only result in just more new bugs, which, just like the one I mentioned, probably share the same triggers as their IE6 counterparts. Unless they start making some real changes instead of quick fixes, IE will always remain the troubled product it is today. You cannot build a solid platform on a bad foundation.

    Untill I see something like “complete redesign Trident engine” on the IE blog, I just prepare for the worst.

  22. I just wish Microsoft would just embrace something Open Source for this. Why can’t they just take Gecko and use that instead. Why waste their time having to deal with core browser rendering function when they could just use something like Gecko and then build their own features on top of this. It would surely save a lot of hassle for them and us as developers.

  23. The big problem, as I see it, is that people don´t even upgrade their old Explorer to the new one.

  24. Johan: That’s actually one thing I’m not too worried about. Seeing as it’s Microsoft, they’ll probably force their users to upgrade anyway.

  25. If it’s true everyone would “just update every time a new version comes along”, we wouldn’t still have to worry about IE5 is it? ;)

  26. I have mixed emotions about IE7. It’s better that much is certain, yet when it first came out as beta 2 I got it, started testing, and had to fix new things; things which weren’t hacked or broken in IE6. I wasn’t pleased about that. But I fixed those new bugs and got on with my day. It was two steps forward one step back.

    Then I tried to enlarge the text on one site and learned that my favorite tool for doing this in Firefox and IE6 no longer provided the same function. Namely that is ctrl+scrollwheel. Instead when doing this I got the new zoom function, which I must say is crap. (Nobody does that as well as Opera.) I figured, oh well, I must do it another way. I tried the keyboard using ctrl+/- as I sometimes do in Firefox (I want all my sites to survive at least two big enlargements, though three is preferred) — but no, that didn’t work in IE 7. I discovered the only way I could resize the text itself in IE7, since it provided no keyboard shortcuts, is to use the browser menu. A 3-click affair for one result; what a drag. That didn’t make me very happy either.

    My wish is that IE7, even instead of adding new bells and whistles, simply took the plunge and caught up to Firefox completely providing all of the CSS support we would like. That would have made me the happiest. MS has always wanted to be different from the crowd and to covet that which is proprietary. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Not in the browser market in my opinion.

  27. October 3, 2006 by Yani

    Try using a simple thing like an iframe tag with IE7… They had a security problem with iframe. And what better way to fix that than to (it seems) remove support.

    Ode to a world where there was 1 common rendering engine that everyone contributed to, even Microsoft.

  28. October 13, 2006 by Rob E.

    As most might already know MS is releasing IE 7 for XP on October 18 throught the software updater.

    So it means they don’t change alot and release another broken browser, maybe the horrid GUI will keep people away from it and even make more people switch to Firefox.

  29. Given the huge number of complaints listed here it is not surprising that few users want to switch from IE6 to IE7. Users are familiar with the old software and will be reluctant to switch to new software which is meant to improve security but is tricky to install introduces a host of new problems in browser use. I expect IE6 will be around a long time yet particualry as a lot of the corporate market is built around it. Try Internet shopping with firefox and even now there are many difficulties.

  30. Victor: Agreed. IMHO, they ought to just switch to Tasman. If I’m correct, IE 5 for Mac is still less buggy than IE 7.

    They only recently stopped developing it, although I can’t find a website that has standards support details for the latest version.

  31. April 12, 2007 by Byron Tylor

    I’m doing as follows:

    I offer free stuff and subscriptions for people with Firefox. You have IE? So pay for it.

    My share? Long term development time.

    I’m not trying to kill IE, just turning the forces of the market in the right direction.

    Money they hear, money will sound.

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