RealTime IT News

Microsoft to Take Third Shot at IE 7 Beta

While there has been no formal announcement, Microsoft has confirmed to internetnews.com that there will be a third beta of Internet Explorer 7.

Planned for August, the third beta will test all of the new technologies and standards being added to IE 7, as well as bug fixes found in the first two betas.

The company released the first beta in January to a lukewarm reception.

While applauded for its new features, both visible and under the covers, there were some peculiar design choices, such as the menu bar being sandwiched between the address bar and the tab bar.

The second beta came in April, and Microsoft declared it "feature complete." The company said no new features or changes were planned, other than bug fixes and other known issues, which is in part what prompted a third beta.

With a five-year gap between IE 6 and IE 7, Microsoft has a lot of ground to make up and a lot of testing to do.

"It is a beta and we're still taking feedback, fixing bugs and working hard to ready the final release," a Microsoft spokeswoman told internetnews.com.

"Customers and partners have asked us to continue to be transparent on the work we're doing and to release regular builds that they can evaluate and test. We're committed to doing this."

"In a lot of ways, IE 6 did fall by the wayside," said Nate Mook, editor-in-chief of BetaNews.com. He said the development team on IE 7 is in tune with what the competition has been doing and there is pressure to add important new standards like Cascading Style Sheets 2 and XML-HTTP requests for Ajax, said Mook.

IE 7 is taking a different path than Firefox, which has come out of the ashes of Netscape to take a sizable chunk of the market away from Microsoft. While Firefox is heavily customizable, IE 7 will not be.

"Unfortunately, extensibility in IE7 is not where we want it to be," said Microsoft's Max Stevens, lead program manager for IE in a chat held on MSDN last month.

"We don't expect there to be many changes between now and ship, though this is definitely an area we're investigating for our next release."

Changes to IE 7 will come much quicker than they did for IE 6, Mook said. "From my interactions with the IE team, they don't see this as an end milestone, they see it as a beginning.

"This won't be a one-time thing, they will keep updating it. They're not going to put this out there and it's 4 to 5 years before we see an update," he said.