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Microsoft: Bug Fixes, Security Support To Be Top Priority in IE 7

Microsoft plans to add support for cascading style sheets in the upcoming Internet Explorer 7, but other standards will take a back seat to critical bug fixes.
Microsoft Corp. plans to add support for cascading style sheets in the upcoming Internet Explorer 7, but other standards will take a back seat to fixing the worst bugs reported by web developers.

In Microsoft's IEBlog, development team leader Chris Wilson said the company's intent is to build "a platform that fully complies with the appropriate web standards, in particular CSS 2."

Nevertheless, bug fixes, and security, were the top priorities in IE 7, which is currently in beta 1 and in limited release. Beta 2, which is set for release this year, is expected to be generally available.

"I believe we are doing a much better service to web developers out there in IE 7 by fixing our known bang-your-head-on-the-desk bugs and usability problems first, and prioritizing the most commonly requested features based on all the feedback we've had," Wilson said.

A guide used by browser makers is the Acid2 test published by the Web Standards Project, a grassroots coalition that promotes the use of standards to help simplify web development. IE supports fewer of the standards listed by the project than other browsers, such as Apple Computer Inc.'s Safari or Opera from Opera Software ASA.

Nevertheless, a posting on the Web Standards Project's blog praised Microsoft's plans for meeting Web development standards, such as CSS 2, and eventually CSS 2.1; and HTML 4.01.

"While it (IE7) doesn't hit everything we might like, and we won't see most of it (standards support) until Beta 2, it's a pretty impressive list for a release that by all accounts is primarily about security and UI (user interface) features," project member Chris Kaminski wrote on the group's Recent Buzz page. "Even more impressive than the contents of the list, though, is that it's even available outside the Redmond (Wash.) campus.

"Having been through this 'work with Microsoft' thing once before in the late '90s, I can assure you this sort of openness is a radical departure from the Microsoft of old and as good a reason as any for optimism that this is just the beginning, and we can expect even more and better in IE 7.5 and beyond."

Rob Helm, analyst for Directions on Microsoft, said the standards the company supports is the result of factions within Microsoft that would benefit, such as the development team for ASP.Net, the software maker's web-programming framework.

"It's important to remember that Microsoft is lots of different factions, and there's several that see the browser as a good development platform," Helm said Tuesday. "They want it to work well."

Of particular interest of the pro-standards factions is making IE a strong platform for AJAX, a new web development technique for creating interactive web applications. AJAX uses JavaScript, extensible markup language (XML), CSS and other standard technologies. Google has used the technique in building its Google Maps application that lets people zoom in and out of satellite views of locations and perform other interactive activities.

Helm expects Microsoft to eventually support all the standards that comprise AJAX.

"IE 7's support for these standards is improving, because they're just too important to ignore," Helm said. "Longer term, you might see development tools out of Microsoft that support writing web pages conforming to those standards."