Internet Explorer is officially released

Back in the dark days, programmers battled with a forgotten browser. It was good for its time, like a 4-cyl Fiero. But time marched on and this browser stagnated, forcing those working in the internet world to jump through programming hoops to make their pages work.

There were a few heroes that made this work a bit easier. Big John and Holly started a virtual library. There even became an “IE7″ long before Microsoft got off their asses. The IE7 javascript was a library designed to fix the annoying issues in Internet Explorer 6. Zeldman began touring the world preaching the horrors of bad browsers.

And then something magical happened. Firefox was released with great support for standards-based programming. Quick on their heels came Safari and new versions of Opera that made life much easier. Instantly, Microsoft began losing their monopoly on the browser. Something had to be done!

IE7 logoChris Wilson must have been summoned to the all mighty Gates and given the go ahead to build the new beast: IE7. “Go forth and build a browser that fixes as many IE6 bugs as possible. Add tons of security fixes. Add new RSS and open-source features. And whatever you do… make it backwards compatible for our customers.” It was a big order to fill.

Internet Explorer 7 was on the road map.

To show good faith, they released a very early version – IE7 Beta 1. This browser was so meager that it generated even more bad press for the hard working group. Standardistas were up in arms over the remaining bugs. The team began to reach out even further to the developer pool. They made nice with the Web Standards Project, they went to conferences, worked with the web dev teams of large websites, they even gave out really cool shwag.

All of this led to some big promises and regular releases of subsequently better products. Bugs were squashed and developers began to learn how to deal with IE6/IE7 differences. I personally found a bug with transparent png sprites that I was happy to see fixed for the final release.

Internet Explorer Hits The Streets

This is the week we’ve all waited for. Internet Explorer 7 is officially released. Download it now. Microsoft will be actively pushing this browser as a security and feature upgrade. You can expect to see large numbers of your audience using IE7 over the next six months. I wouldn’t be surprised if IE6 is a grade B browser within a year.

Internet Explorer 7 is not as good as Firefox. It’s not as good as Safari. It’s arguably not as good as Opera, only because Opera users love to argue. But it is much, much, much better than IE6.

More importantly, this release finally allows us to use CSS2 rules. IE7 recognizes things like link[ahref="fr"], div>p, li:hover, and ul:first-child. It doesn’t recognize generated content, that is my biggest complaint about the browser.

Web standard design seems to be stagnating lately as we’ve gotten fat and lazy creating rounded corners without thinking twice. AJAX took over some of our creativity. Now it’s time to go back to the CSS2 specifications and really begin re-inventing web design.

We’ve not only seen the light at the end of the IE6 tunnel, we’re standing out in the sun throwing pinecones at each other and running through the fields like drunk rabbits. Hats off to the IE7 team for delivering a browser we’ve been asking for. It’s not the one we begged and pleaded for, but maybe that’s what IE8 is for.

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