Unofficial Vista Blog Tour, Day 2: Does IE7 suck?

Stuart Mudie and Derek Torres are co-authors of The Unofficial Guide to Windows Vista, a warts-and-all look at the new Microsoft operating system, that is due to be published by Wiley early next year.

I’ve worked with Stuart in the past, we’ve known each other through our blogs for quite some time, and we’ve met up in Paris. So when he announced that the two of them were planning a “virtual blog tour” to promote their book, I was happy to volunteer as a host.

Over to Stuart…

I did a Google search the other day for “IE7 sucks” and received around 14,000 results – not bad for a product that’s little more than a month old. (By way of comparison, “Firefox 2.0 sucks” returned just over a hundred results.)

But is IE7 really that bad?

While there are certainly things to complain about, when you look at the bigger picture, I think Microsoft is to be applauded for the important improvements it has made to the latest version of its browser. We have a right to demand perfection, but we shouldn’t really be surprised when we don’t get it. You recently put it quite well yourself, Neville, when you asked: “Are all browsers just betas?

So, what is there to like about IE7?

  • Tabbed browsing may well be a sign that Microsoft is playing catch-up with Firefox (just like much in the new version of Windows Media Player is playing catch-up with iTunes), but that doesn’t make it any less welcome.
  • Tight integration of RSS is a step towards mainstream use of content syndication formats, which is a good thing.
  • Like in Windows Vista as a whole, security is much more to the fore in IE7. Protected Mode (Vista only), the Phishing filter and numerous HTTPS enhancements are all examples of how the Microsoft philosophy now seems to be “secure by default”, rather than putting the onus on the user to make the “right” security decision.
  • IE7′s improved CSS, DOM and HTML support, while it may not be the full standards compliance many have been demanding, does at least sort out some of the biggest bugs. In the short term, this may create problems with sites that make extensive use of hacks to get around shortcomings in previous versions of Internet Explorer, but that’s something for the developers of those sites to sort out, not a problem with IE7 itself. Don’t criticise Microsoft for starting to do things right.

In summary, IE7 is far from perfect, but it is the first decent browser from Microsoft in a long time and we should recognise it as such. They’re on the right track at last.

- Stuart Mudie, co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Windows Vista

(You can pre-order Stuart’s and Derek’s book now from Amazon.)

About Neville Hobson

Entrepreneurial business communicator with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Co-host of the weekly business podcast For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report. Also an occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Follow me on Twitter and Google+.