IE7 Redux: Ya'll Missed the Point

I have gotten a lot of email and read a lot of comments about my piece on IE7. The funny thing is, so many people complained and argued my piece about how I’m a fool for liking IE. In fact, I was labeled a hypocrite by one guy, and then there’s this guy, who seems content in refuting all of my points based on arguing that we ought to blindly ditch Windows altogether. Yeah, people missed the point. Read on for more.

IE7 is not my browser of choice. I still recommend Firefox to Windows users and Camino to Mac users. I still prefer Gecko, Opera, and KHTML (and Webkit) to MSHTML (the IE HTML rendering core). I still think IE is lacking from a standards perspective. I still think IE’s lack of development tools and useful feedback make it a particularly manipulative application.

But I am realist. The fact is, most large networks run Windows clients, and they ALL (save those few Windows 3.1x networks and the ancient, barely network-able Windows 95 clients) have IE on them. I’m willing to bet that a VERY VERY VERY small percentage have something older than IE5.5 on them, because browsing the web with IE pre-5.5 gives you such a reduced experience it’s just not feasible that a capable network admin wouldn’t have upgraded. These machines, today at least, are doomed to run IE6 until EOL. No newer core browser will run on them, and other browsers are just that – browsers. Since Win98, the browser is joined to the file manager, so they WILL run IE, even as a backend engine to hosts of products, from the help viewer to many management tools.

Now, ALL networks running Windows XP are running IE6 and, if genuine, are capable of running IE7 (after installing SP2). And everyone knows that IE6 is still a piece of crap. There are a LOT of reasons that IE7 is better than IE6. So, given that you have clients that are running IE6 anyway, why would you NOT want them running IE7? The vast majority of websites are 100% compatible with IE6, because I’ve read that unless you declare yourself XHTML strict, it reverts to the same quirks mode as IE6 anyway.

Those arguing that IE7 still sucks can piss off – it may, but that’s not the point. IE7 is still better than IE6, and I think it’s hard to argue otherwise. About the only worthwhile argument I’ve heard is “I’m waiting for it to mature,” which is valid if you’ve used Microsoft products. That said, I’ve been running it for over a month and I find IE7 to be much more stable and much easier to manage and use productive.

So – once again – not claiming IE is a godsend, just that it’s a very welcome improvement.