A look at IE7

Posted by Dave Wickham

Some of the more astute readers will have noticed that I’m not what you’d call the world’s biggest fan of IE6. It was a good browser in its time, but its time was almost half a decade ago, when its main competition was the absolutely dreadful Netscape 4 and the clunky prerelease-Mozilla-based Netscape 6. Since then we’ve had Mozilla 1.0 in June 2002, Firefox 1.0 in November 2004, and a number of new releases of other browsers/engines such as Konqueror, Safari (based on Konqueror’s engine), and Opera. In that time, IE6 has had – to my knowledge – no rendering engine improvements. At all.

As Microsoft slowly lost browser share to Firefox, thanks in part to its simplicity, and in part thanks to its fanbase promoting it (*looks at sidebar*), they finally decided that they should maybe dust off the old codebase and freshen it up, adding luxuries such as full support for the ten year old PNG image format (which became an ISO standard a couple of years ago) and decent CSS support.

IE7 Beta 2 is the first “layout complete” version of the IE7 beta, which essentially means that whatever a site looks like in this version, it’ll look like in the final release. If you have (a legit copy of) XP SP2 or later, you can grab it from MS. So, with fingers crossed, I tried it out.

I must say I was pleasantly surprised; it did actually seem to render pages in a half-decent way, including the forum page I was complaining about last month. It didn’t need PNG hacks. It didn’t need to have its broken CSS support worked around. It actually seemed to not suck! Truely a breakthrough in a world in which IE6 is the most popular browser.

IE7 does still have some niggling issues, though, but even the worst ones I’ve encountered aren’t anywhere near as major an issue as some of those present in IE6; take a look at this comparison of Firefox 1.5 vs. IE7 on the aforementioned forum page for a quick, “at a glance” illustration: (FF on left, IE7 on right, click on images for bigger)

Forum post in Firefox 1.5 Forum post in IE7 Beta 2

As you can hopefully see, there aren’t many differences between the two; borders are thicker, there are some padding issues, and there’s a pointless scrollbar on the ads. Let’s contrast this with IE6:

Forum post in IE6

Quite a clear difference, there.

Although IE7 still isn’t perfect, rendering engine wise, I hope it gets regularly maintained (unlike IE6), and, along with Firefox/Opera/Whatever else, eats away at all the remaining XP+IE6 users. Just as long as we don’t ge a repeat of the IE6 situation.

I’ve now spent too long on this blog entry, so I’ll leave it at that.

One Response to “A look at IE7”

  1. allaboutgames.co.uk - AAG Blog - Blog Archive - IE7 has been released, finally! Says:

    […] Well, today it was announced that IE7 has been released. Hooray! You may perhaps have noticed that here at AAG, we’re not what you might call the world’s greatest fans of IE6. Which is a bit of an understatement. However, IE7 is quite a major improvement over IE6 (as I noted back in June), even if it’s not as good as things like KHTML, Opera, and Gecko (the engine behind Firefox). Saying that, though, I’ve not yet been able to install the release version of IE7 on my (legit) copy of XP in VMware, so I don’t know how improved the release is over the release candidate that I tried. […]

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