We have MSDN at work, so I was quite excited to see that Microsoft had released Beta 1 of IE7 to MSDN subscribers.
In the time it took to download, take it home and find an opportunity to install it, a lot of discussion had taken place. Dave Shea got hold of a pirated version and was disappointed. Molly asked everyone to be patient as beta 1 is early days yet, but Anne argued that usually, Beta 1 is feature-complete.
Surely Microsoft must have expected this kind of backlash… maybe not. Anyway, the IE blog responded fairly quickly to assert that yes, there was more CSS support coming in future betas. They even listed what was planned, including CSS 2.1 Selector support, :hover on all elements, PNG alpha transparency, and CSS 2.1 Fixed positioning. I’m impressed, by both the feature list and by their frank and open post about what will and won’t be done.
What I’m not impressed about, and what I haven’t seen much comment about in the blogosphere (although in the Windows developer community it’s been mentioned a lot): it’s ugly. Really, really ugly. The tab bar looks simplistic, the menu is underneath the tab bar (who regularly uses the menu, anyway?) and overall, the interface doesn’t gel. I hope that gets lots of extra attention in future betas.
Am I excited and hopeful about IE7? Yes. Will I want to use it instead of Firefox? Uh, no. I’m glad they’re fixing those annoying bugs (as the IE Blog so aptly put it, the “bang-your-head-on-the-desk bugs”), and it will be good to see some extra CSS support, but once it’s released, it’s likely to be another 4 years before we see anything new, by which time Firefox will be up at version 20 or so, going by the current release schedule. Besides, the extensibility of Firefox has become it’s number one feature to me. Couldn’t live without my web developer toolbar.