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With a Firefox 3.0 release impending, Microsoft prepares to reveal its new firepower with a keynote on the status of IE8

MIX, an annual Microsoft-hosterd conference for web developers held each spring at the swank Venetian in Las Vegas, has often drawn exciting news.  At the first MIX conference, held in '06 Dean Hachamovitch, leader of Microsoft's Internet Explorer team gave an exciting presentation of the future of the browser, which highlight the improvements found in IE7 that would help the browser regain competitiveness against a more full-featured Firefox browser.  Internet Explorer 7 released several months later in October, and stayed very true to the form of Hachamovitch's presentation, adding tabbed browsing, antiphishing and more.

This year's MIX conference, held on March 5th through 7th, promises a similar preview at what kind of heat Microsoft is planning to unleash on the next generation browser arms race.    Hachamovitch will be giving an exclusive look at the state of Internet Explorer 8 and key features of the browser. 

Microsoft's browser is currently in the alpha release stage.  It will be going to an initial Beta release by mid '08.  This will preceed a late '08 launch.  Little is known about the features at this time so
the announcement of Hachamovitch's keynote is creating considerable excitement in developer circles.

What exactly
Hachamovitch has in store and the reception of the browser are critical to Microsoft's fight to stay competitive in the browser market sector.  While browsers are only one key segment of Microsoft's business, Microsoft takes them very seriously.  The company is not above doing a little trash talking about bitter rival Mozilla's Firefox browser.

The next generation browser war should be intense.  Microsoft has been bleeding marketshare to the Mozilla Foundation's browser throughout the IE6 and IE7 era.  Mozilla should get the jump on Microsoft when it releases Firefox 3.0, codenamed "Gran Paradiso", early this year.  The browser is currently on its second beta, with two more betas planned.  Initial reports are very enthusiastic and state that the browser is noticably faster, leaner and more intuitive.  Microsoft is sure to have some cards up its sleeve as well though, and MIX '08 should give a preview of them.

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IE7 Rocks
By kibets on 2/12/2008 9:31:18 AM , Rating: 5
I love IE7 and would never go Firefox, main reason Firefox is only a level 2 supported browser for Microsoft Technologies such as SharePoint. I develop MS Apps for a living :>

RE: IE7 Rocks
By The Sword 88 on 2/12/2008 9:56:28 AM , Rating: 5
While I dont develop MS apps I I love IE 7. I had Firefox until IE 7 came out, I just like th elook and feel better. They load about as fast, I havent clocked them, but I cant see a difference. I like being able to one click open a new tab instead of using a menu or ctrl-t or whatever it is in Firefox

RE: IE7 Rocks
By JediSmurf on 2/12/2008 10:18:02 AM , Rating: 2
You can middle click to open a new tab. and there's a button right there on the left as well.

RE: IE7 Rocks
By MrBungle on 2/12/2008 4:43:27 PM , Rating: 2
Better, yet, install Mouse Gestures and do it with a right-click and a stroke of the wrist.

RE: IE7 Rocks
By psychobriggsy on 2/12/2008 10:22:28 AM , Rating: 2
You know that you can add a "New Tab" button in Firefox if you really want that functionality?

I don't care what people use to view the web, but the original poster is probably creating broken websites that can only be viewed in IE, and I despise that. When you have a platform agnostic protocol and markup language, there is zero excuse for tying yourself into IE-only hacks.

RE: IE7 Rocks
By 3kliksphilip on 2/12/2008 10:55:27 AM , Rating: 2
I don't notice when I'm using one instead of the other. Now that Internet Explorer 7 uses middle mouse to open new tabs (Just as Firefox did before) they're both pretty much the same to me. I'd recommend people still using Firefox just to keep Internet Explorer on its toes. Monopolies get lazy without competition.

Can anybody spot the difference between 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Internet Explorer? Come to think of it, does anything run significantly faster with 64 bit? I make a habit of using the 64 bit version because it sounds cooler, but I can't say I've noticed anything different about it.

Once in a while Firefox deletes my Bookmarks and I'm not sure why. Perhaps V3 will fix that.

RE: IE7 Rocks
By robinthakur on 2/12/2008 11:00:38 AM , Rating: 1
SharePoint is primarily an enterprise solution. It is MS's middle tier operating system for collaboration and as such relies on IE's functionality being around with various things that only work on IE6/7 and not firefox without several drastic modifications to SharePoint's config (which most people are not aware of). However, as its mostly used for the intranet, with a handful of examples i've seen of it being deployed on an extranet or internet site its never been that big of a deal. At the end of the day its made by Microsoft and they don't want to help firefox get a foothold in the corporate environment by doing them any favours.

Most comapnies wouldn't touch Firefox anyway (especially the ones closely partnered to MS) as there's zero reliable support. One might argue that its not needed as much as with IE however. Narf.

RE: IE7 Rocks
By tastyratz on 2/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: IE7 Rocks
By TomZ on 2/12/2008 4:05:59 PM , Rating: 2
We use Sharepoint and Firefox together here without any problems. Sharepoint uses standard HTML, CSS, and JavaScript which are obviously supported well by all modern browsers.

RE: IE7 Rocks
By kibets on 2/12/2008 5:50:28 PM , Rating: 1
You are actually missing out on quite a bit using FireFox:

RE: IE7 Rocks
By JonnyDough on 2/12/2008 6:08:44 PM , Rating: 1
That's what the free plug-ins are for. Besides, if they don't know they're missing out on it, then are they really missing out on it? If they're content and feel it meets their need, then doesn't it? The Amish don't feel a need for all our modern hardware. That doesn't mean they don't live happy lives.

RE: IE7 Rocks
By TomZ on 2/12/2008 8:45:33 PM , Rating: 2
The features that are "missing" in Firefox are quite a bit less than important. Yes, there is a better experience in IE, but web sites that use Sharepoint are more than just usable in Firefox.

RE: IE7 Rocks
By robinthakur on 2/13/2008 7:30:34 AM , Rating: 1
It depends what you use SharePoint for. If you use basic features of sharepoint 2007 then firefox is fine. Several more advanced features do not work well with Firefox and need development workarounds such as as the built in rich text editor and (as somebody below pointed out) the NTLM functionality. There are others but I suppose you would need to use some more of the advanced features to be aware such as the business data catalog, Excel services and Forms server to name but a few. Sharepoint 2007 also uses some ActiveX controls unfortunately which muddies the waters with regards to compatibility...There's also the complications around developing intranet solutions using the CSS for firefox as they tend to look completely different (read butchered) on the still mainstream IE6

RE: IE7 Rocks
By robinthakur on 2/12/2008 11:09:28 AM , Rating: 1
Hopefully the original poster realcises that you can include more than one style sheet on each page thus side-stepping the minefield of hacks to a degree, using IE scripts etc. and also that cascading stylesheets do actually cascade... ;)

RE: IE7 Rocks
By Calin on 2/12/2008 10:35:20 AM , Rating: 2
The Vista Aero theme adds a "new tab" microtab - just like in IE7

RE: IE7 Rocks
By JonnyDough on 2/12/2008 5:58:31 PM , Rating: 1
Control T is thanks. Much quicker than using a mouse in my opinion.

RE: IE7 Rocks
By JonnyDough on 2/12/2008 6:06:16 PM , Rating: 1
Then again, maybe some people have small hands. And smell like cabbage.

RE: IE7 Rocks
By Dorz on 2/12/2008 11:27:01 AM , Rating: 5
As mentioned before, your probably creating broken websites, if your dealing with CSS. IE7 is much better than IE6 but it still has catastrophically bad support for CSS . Its completely inept and makes life SOOOOOO much more difficult, awkward and time consuming for a developer. Its a real shame that IE is still the most popular browser because I for one do not want waste my time trying to coax into rendering my CSS properly if MS can't be bothered to provide proper support for CSS in the first place.

Microsoft should be ashamed of them selves for not getting CSS support sorted out years ago. Mozilla and Opera can do it with the little resources they have, yet cash laden MS with all their elite programmers have only just manged to pass the Acid 2 test with their wire frame IE8.

Its too bad that the unknowing use IE and developers have to struggle to get their CSS to do what IE wants not what standards say should happen.

RE: IE7 Rocks
By Messudieh on 2/12/2008 1:17:25 PM , Rating: 3
I am an avid Firefox user, and I agree fully about the poor standards support for Internet Explorer, especially on IE6.

One thing to think about though is that Firefox will not be Acid 2 compliant until the upcoming Firefox 3 either.

That being said, if IE8 comes out with all the promises that Microsoft is offering, then I will love the day just because I won't need to code for 2 or 3 different standards any more.

Just one; the right one.

Here's to hoping.

RE: IE7 Rocks
By Dorz on 2/12/2008 1:49:21 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed, however (and I could be wrong here, but...)passing the Acid 2 test doesn't mean the browser is standards compliant. If I recall correctly it just means is can render (correctly) a fantastically complex set of CSS rules which in turn should mean it can render CSS in general very well.

Now FF2 doesn't pass the Acid 2 test, however its support of CSS is far superior to that of IE. I very rarely find that I have to change things with FF to make things look right. What appears in FF is usually what appears in Opera (which does pass the test). It is always IE that pulls in the opposite direction and complicates things.

RE: IE7 Rocks
By Screwballl on 2/12/2008 2:18:31 PM , Rating: 1
I love IE7 and would never go Firefox, main reason Firefox is only a level 2 supported browser for Microsoft Technologies such as SharePoint. I develop MS Apps for a living :>

If you aren't a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem. In your case it is the latter. Due to the perversion of code that many sites have to use just to allow it to run in IE, it is causing more web based slowdowns and problems when compared to usage of any other browser. If we could get a non-MS based structure and code base that is standardized across all platforms, that would help 99% of the world instead of just 99% of MS.

RE: IE7 Rocks
By Murst on 2/12/2008 2:28:19 PM , Rating: 3
Your argument can go both ways.

Yes, you could require 90%+ of the browsers to render like the other 10%. But wouldn't requiring 10% to match the other 90% be easier?

Yes, the web does need a standard. However, from a developer point of view, I could care less if the standard was created by MS or by the WC3 (the W3C, as it is right now, is a joke anyways). As long as I can write code to work on all browsers, I'm happy. And the way it stands now, it would make much more sense for Mozilla to adotp to IE than for IE to adopt to Mozilla, simply due to market penetration.

The thing is, Mozilla doesn't want to do this. I actually think its amazing that the IE8 team will offer a WC3 standards mode (in addition to all the other IE compatible modes).

RE: IE7 Rocks
By TomZ on 2/12/2008 2:52:15 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. And in addition, if Microsoft and others stuck to being purely standards-compliant, we Internet users wouldn't have the benefit of some of the innovation that proprietary implementations provide.

For example, AJAX, which is the basis of most of today's more interactive "web 2.0" sites, was largely the work of Microsoft, not a W3C committee. AJAX is one of the most important web programming paradigms today.

Another example, the proliferation of plugins like the Flash player wouldn't have been possible without Microsoft's much-maligned ActiveX. Flash and ActiveX provide interactive, multimedia, and animation capabilities that far exceed what could be done using W3C standards.

RE: IE7 Rocks
By thebrown13 on 2/12/2008 3:54:46 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention the upcoming Silverlight 2.0, which will revolutionize the web.

RE: IE7 Rocks
By borowki on 2/13/2008 4:14:51 AM , Rating: 2
And innerHTML. The web wouldn't be half as dynamic if people have to write createElement/appendChild code all day.

RE: IE7 Rocks
By AnnihilatorX on 2/12/2008 3:40:33 PM , Rating: 3
I found the 3rd party add-ons for Firefox indispensable. That's the reason I keep using it.

Firefox 3
By SolidSteel144 on 2/12/2008 9:23:02 AM , Rating: 2
Gee.. Is Firefox really a big threat to Microsoft?
Only my entire school and friends moved to it. :)

RE: Firefox 3
By ImSpartacus on 2/12/2008 9:30:18 AM , Rating: 2
Really? I have switched to it from IE8 just out of speed, but FF isn't that much of a difference.

I just can't understand why IE8 has to 'load' a blank tab. FF doesn't. And FF is faster to start too.

RE: Firefox 3
By omnicronx on 2/12/2008 9:49:21 AM , Rating: 2
Yay for Prefetch.. on my vista machine, they both open at the same speed, if you use them both on a regular basis. Even on a XP machine, if you always use firefox and never use IE, firefox will appear to load faster because of Prefetch. I personally like Firefox better, but really it comes down to personal preference, I find IE much too bloated.

RE: Firefox 3
By TomZ on 2/12/2008 10:39:23 AM , Rating: 2
I have switched to it from IE8 just out of speed

You mean...IE7? Unless you're a Microsoft insider, you're not running IE8.

By robinthakur on 2/12/2008 9:40:10 AM , Rating: 2
Hopefully they will take the feedback of the development community to heart as they seemed to, to a degree, with IE7. If all browsers just complied to the standards, development and design would take a fraction of the length of time they should do. Instead, I have to test with the top 3 different browsers all of which display pages differently, and then code work arounds/seperate style sheets for each.

If Microsoft are in doubt, just implement everything which Dean Edwards has made possible in his IE8 script!! (this is a javascript file one includes in a page which kinda 'emulates' how IE SHOULD behave, fixing several glaring bugs and glitches in page rendering and compliance) If this one very bright guy can fix what's wrong with IE through javascript, what does this say about how inactive the MS IE dev team is? Anyway, that should make for a very useful baseline for them to add actual features/rendering improvements to which is how the browser products should be differentiated. The key points are that it should support more of CSS3 in a compliant way. Competition is good, IE6 stayed pretty much identical for 6-7 years (excluding security updates) How much other software could you say that for?

By arazok on 2/12/2008 9:59:33 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed. The single biggest pain in my job is adding workarounds for the different browsers quirks (Mostly due to IE bugs). I'm loving my current project - a business only web app that only needs to support IE6-7. It's so much easier to develop!

By TomZ on 2/12/2008 2:43:22 PM , Rating: 2
Even when IE8 comes out and is more standards-compliant, you'll still have to test web sites across a number of browsers. It's not like all of a sudden every browser is going to magically converge on the same exact implementation.

Don't forget, all published standards have ambiguities as well as wiggle room for implementations, including web standards. Developers from the different companies will implement things mostly the same, but not exactly the same.

Also remember that other browsers (e.g., Firefox) are lacking in standards compliance as well - it's not just an MS thing. For example, the current release version of Firefox doesn't properly render the Acid2 test any better than IE7. FF3 and IE8 both are expected to render Acid2 correctly.

By JonnyDough on 2/12/2008 6:15:59 PM , Rating: 1
Actually Tom, they can write it just for IE8 and not prior versions. You can, as a developer demand that your page be viewed with only the latest browser. You can code it to come up as a "this webpage requires IE8 to be viewed properly" page. It's like asking a game developer to write software for DOS and Windows95. The DOS user needs to upgrade to Windows. Sorry for those that use old software. Upgrade.

By robinthakur on 2/13/2008 7:44:04 AM , Rating: 1
There are several schools of thought on this topic...Some make the best of a bad situation with multiple stylesheets and hacks knowing the reality is that the vast majority of people use IE6/7. Then there are the standards fascists who design their pages only for browsers which do support all css standards like Safari and umm...dunno Mozilla I guess, and say "screw you all" to the vast mainstream of users. I think the latter is unrealistic, to be honest and so is demanding that everybody upgrades. This might make sense in your head, but the reality is different. This excludes the people who do not know how to upgrade, those who are not even able to use the browser you are promelgating due to platform issues/cost issues with needing to upgrade, those who are using pirated version of windows and are prevented from upgrading (their own fault, you might say, but its not a small number worldwide), and those who are in a controlled environment where they are prevented from upgrading like a business.

Add up all those people and you might well come up with a majority who can't upgrade as easily as you seem to think and therefore cannot see your page properly. So its really not that simple and what i've learned as a developer and designer is that compromise is what's needed. Besides, if you're paid by the hour, more hours = $$$ (or £££ more appropriately!)

I see little speed difference between the two
By PAPutzback on 2/12/2008 9:57:42 AM , Rating: 2
And there are still a lot of web pages that the frames aren't FF friendly.

By Screwballl on 2/12/2008 2:24:15 PM , Rating: 1
this is due to poor coding and proprietary standards used by MS so that certain types of pages will only use their own software (ie: IE).
I use FF and if a page refuses to load based on this info, I refuse to visit that page. Besides its not like MS has opened up the source code to IE to run natively on linux (usually you need to run Wine or Cedega to get it to install and work).

By 3kliksphilip on 2/18/2008 1:31:52 PM , Rating: 2
'I use FF and if a page refuses to load based on this info, I refuse to visit that page.'

I know somebody who makes websites optimised for Firefox and he claims that 'If Internet Explorer looks rubbish on them then it's their fault'.

I couldn't help but feel that your comment is a bit... snooty? mislead? I can't name the exact word, but it just seems a bit shallow of you to not read a website if it doesn't agree with your favourite browser. I've never had a problem with Firefox, ever, so I don't know which websites you've been browsing. Are you sure it wasn't a content filter?

IE8 and standards
By Murst on 2/12/2008 10:35:10 AM , Rating: 2
Quite a bit has been revealed already about standards compliance of IE8 on various MS blogs.

MS is in a tough position, in that they must provide backward compatibility with previous IE browsers, which were not standards compliant.

The way this is supposedly going to happen is via doc type declarations. If no doc type declaration exists, IE8 will assume that it should display the web page w/ IE6 compatibility. If a doc type declaration exists (and is not a new "strict" doctype, more on this below), IE7 compatibility will be used.

Finally, a new "strict" doc type (I'm not talking about the strict doc types that already exist, but a new specific one) declaration will tell IE8 to render the page w/ full compliance. Supposedly, this method already passes the ACID2 test. However, you will need IE8 (or perhaps Opera or Firefox 3) to render these pages properly, as not even FF2 is standards compliant.

Also, MS will supposedly put in a concept of versioning via a meta tag. The effect will be that you can specify which version of browser you would like to target by including this metatag in your source in order to force the page to render in a way so that future browser releases will not alter it, as all future browser releases will also support the rendering methods of older browsers. I hope they remove this concept from the final release, but w/e.

RE: IE8 and standards
By Screwballl on 2/12/2008 12:12:21 PM , Rating: 1
Mozilla/firefox has always been standards compliant (thus most sites state "mozilla" compliance, including IE). It is the modified standards that some pages use to be functional in IE that has been forced upon us by Microsoft that causes the incompatibility.
Look at the simple user agent string. It was started by Netscape and for internet-wide standards, many pages required the use of the string mozilla as in "Mozilla/<version> (compatible; MSIE <version>)". Competing browsers (such as IE) began to emulate/cloak/spoof this string in order to also work with those sites. This continues to this day, even with the perversion of code required by some sites that make it work only with IE.

this has nothing to do with the actual Mozilla browser itself, it was a code standard that sites decided to employ and Microsoft only used it so that its users could access these pages.

This vicious circle is expected to continue in the arena of web browsers. Some standards-based web developers have started the "Viewable With Any Browser" campaign which encourages developers to design webpages according to official standards, not for any particular browser(s).

One result of user agent spoofing is that the usage share of Internet Explorer, the user agent browsers typically spoof, is probably overestimated, and the usage share of other browsers may be underestimated. User agent spoofing can also provide a security issue by spoofing search engine bots and bypassing key parts in a website.

We need a standard and only ONE standard by which ALL browsers must be compatible and get rid of this outdated user agent string completely. The sad part is that Microsoft doesn't want this as it will remove some of its dominance and proprietary standards that they are so fond of.

RE: IE8 and standards
By Murst on 2/12/2008 2:20:35 PM , Rating: 2
Mozilla/firefox has always been standards compliant

Sorry, but that's a bunch of BS. Although ACID2 doesn't test for full compliance, not rendering the test correctly does indicate non-compliance. Firefox has not rendered this properly, and hence was not compliant.

Sure, it is closer than IE, but it does not fully follow the standards.

IE8 will see
By KamiXkaze on 2/12/2008 9:24:41 PM , Rating: 2
It's is more a wait and see for me since being a firefox user. I wish MS alot of luck on the new browser but for me Firefox.


RE: IE8 will see
By cyberserf on 2/13/2008 3:59:33 AM , Rating: 2
They are only making IE8 just because they are losing marketshare to firefox. bastards!
they didn't update IE6 for years because of lack of competiton.
you can tell they running scared because of the recent updates and ie7 release and now ie8. LOL

What is the fuss be all about?
By Aloonatic on 2/12/2008 9:31:01 AM , Rating: 3
I'm not really sure what all the fuss is about.

I use FireFox at home because it loads much faster on my old fangled P4 (2.5GHz) but on modern machines (which aren't coal powered) there really isn't much difference in performance but I use FireFox at work because I'm used to it.

Tabbed browsing was an ace idea by however came up with it first and is the main reason why I moved over to firefox after experimenting with others that sort of worked, what will FireFox 3 or IE8 bring that's new?

Security issues aren't anything to get excited about on the feature front and should be a given and I will upgrade to get them.

What I'm trying to say in a round about sort of way is...

How will FireFox 3 or IE8 make my life easier?

They are both "free" too, so what is the fuss about?

By bupkus on 2/12/2008 12:40:39 PM , Rating: 2
Now that I have a 22" monitor I find I would love to tile tabbed frames/windows inside a single window instead of relying on XP tiling off the task bar.
That approach means I need to convert tabs to separate windows and then depend on XP's random tiling.

I only use IE7 when I either access MS's website or a web pages just won't display with FF.

Occasionally, I use Windoes 2k and it's nice to still have tabs with FF. So I think the inter platform availability is a real selling point.

Web standards
By Mudvillager on 2/12/2008 1:20:29 PM , Rating: 2
Please, I beg you Microsoft, follow W3C standards this time around. Internet Explorer is such a pain in the ass to work with when coding because you always have to make sacrifices for IE compatibility.

Firefox = Resource hog
By Zensen on 2/12/2008 2:52:34 PM , Rating: 2
I like firefox for its extension. for that reason alone is what keeps me using firefox. Firefox fancy tabs aren't nearly as useful as Operas and Firefox is such a Resource hog!

I like that IE7 is streamlined and fast to use.
Opera keeps to standards and I appreciate the ease of use and the 10.5 beta gets what the other browser dont seem to get right. Saving passwords!

I hope IE8 does well because I do have some quirky problems with IE7 and PNG files! It's about time MS got their arse together in regards to the browsers. I do appreciate Firefox and Opera ongoing efforts

Opera 9 is better than both
By Belard on 2/12/2008 8:20:58 PM , Rating: 2
More customizable than either. But I wonder if IE8 will have even more Opera features?

The ZOOM function of Opera has been around for years and is great for sites like YouTube were it scales video up (when you don't want to do fullscreen) - Opera saves web pages correctly, while firefox does this horribly.

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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