What is going on with Internet Explorer?

So now we know: the next Internet Explorer version will be called Internet Explorer 8. What a surprise. Thanks, Dean, for telling us. What we don’t know is just about everything else about Internet Explorer 8 because the IE team has been maintaining strict radio silence about it. And what we get is a bullshit answer that “the whole world relies on Internet Explorer and we must be very careful about what we say.”

But the IE team had one and a half years to work on Internet Explorer 8, they must have fixed some of the major bugs/design flaws by now! For example, what about this unholy design decision that attributes and properties of DOM nodes are the same thing that is causing bugs and very problematic non-standard/inconsistent behavior on numerous occasions? Has it finally been dropped? How about the hasLayout switch that makes setting a simple CSS property like “zoom : 1” have an effect like switching to a different layout engine? Has the behavior been made consistent? Does Internet Explorer 8 feature a way to read out and set selection in text fields without the abomination that is TextRange? I mean something simple like selectionStart/selectionEnd properties — something that cannot even be emulated using TextRange because the “characters” TextRange works with are not the same as actual string characters. Are HTML elements regular JavaScript objects in Internet Explorer 8 now, with actual JavaScript prototypes that can be extended? Or maybe document.importNode was implemented so that there is now a way to avoid an unintelligible error message when nodes are moved between documents? If nothing else, what about standard-compliant aliases for existing functionality, like addEventListener/attachEvent, dispatchEvent/fireEvent, window.getComputedStyle/runtimeStyle? Immutable event objects, anyone? The fact that the web pages can manipulate authentic events has been known to cause security issues (e.g. clipboard stealing) for years, Opera fixed the same bug five years ago.

These are only the things that I can list out of the top of my head but there are many more of them. Most of the time it is not new functionality but broken existing functionality. If any of it is fixed, why not tell us? I don’t see any reason for that. Which leads to the only possible conclusion: nothing is fixed, nobody has been really working on the rendering engine. Which means that Internet Explorer 8 will be yet another release giving you a bunch of new features, redesigned user interface and maybe a few minor bug fixes in the rendering engine added in the last minute. But it will still be running on a rendering engine that hasn’t seen any major changes in seven years. But who cares? Web developers are a minority, and most of them have switched to other browsers long ago. And what is wrong anyway about having two versions of each site — one for Internet Explorer and one for all the other browsers?

So, Dean, please prove me wrong. These are not features that you have to keep secret. There is no “secret” that can be stolen because every other browser already gets it right. Tell us that somebody is working on fixing the numerous bugs in DOM/CSS support right now and that we will not get a bunch of easy fixes as an excuse in the end. Tell us what is already done so we know. Everybody is waiting.


  • Neglacio

    If they would make IE open-source and use some submitted code, everything would be fixed by now.
    There are enough IE noobs.. I mean, IE fanboys who are willing to help ;)

  • magnoliasouth

    Wow. Good post and many great points. I have nothing more to add, except my frustration with the lousy IE browser. It’s very unlikely that I’ll ever go back to it from Firefox. I even installed Firefox on my mother’s computer and disabled IE. Unlike her previous computer, she’s had no browser issues at all. That speaks volumes, I think.

  • katie

    In my humble opinion, I believe they have moved into “open source’ products etc; to capitalize on better products that are otherwise free.

    They know nothing of stooping far below the level of techno- etiquitte . Now I can run very little from Vista, except install Ubuntu from the desktop, but in Kubuntu 7.10
    I have access to all my M$N windozzze files.
    Go figure.
    M$N has not gotten the hang of how it works, but are marketing it as such just the same. The Vista anytime upgrade is dumber than Bush, and that’s bad. Forget tech support, unless they passed around the issues I encountered and resolved on my own via search and seize
    online research.
    If they knew certain components had to be disabled, or the vendor where I purchased my upgrade knew- it would have saved me days of going no where.
    I bought stock in Apple.

    Great product by the way; Adblock is the first thing I add on each time I have to reinstall….

    I hope this is my LAST time!

    Vielen danke!

  • anonGuy

    Better yet, why do they have to up the major version #? Why can’t they release IE 7.1 or IE7 SP1 and work on that stuff and then offer it as an update. IE6 standards support suck, IE7 standards support suck, and no doubt, IE8 standards support will suck. I am sure Firefox 1.0 supports standards many times better than IE8 will.

    And as far as two versions, one site for example gnomeslackbuild.org looks really nice in browsers with excellent CSS support but in IE it just looks plain. Perhaps all sites should do that in order to force MS to do something more than give IE a new theme and do very little work on it and up the major version #, or promote browsers that support standards that allow the website to look like the author intended.

    Wladimir Palant

    I am not sure gnomeslackbuild.org really intended to do that. IE doesn’t support modifiers on the @import statement in CSS, this is why it fails to load the stylesheet of the page. But if you remove the modifier the site looks exactly the same in IE as in all other browsers. I can imagine that gnomeslackbuild.org doesn’t get many visitors with IE, something like this can go unnoticed then. But I must admit, I played with the idea of giving IE a simplified version of my site (not adblockplus.org) a few years ago – just because it was so painful to support it.

  • nimd4

    @ magnoliasouth

    The problem is, disabling MSIE doesn’t quite stop it from being able to do damage (.DLL files, etc.); litepc.com is capable of removing the MSIE components from the system, but again the problem there is that a LOT of software depends on things like the HTML rendering engine to function… For example McAfee, etc.

    I wish things were different, so that we may be rid of MSIE forever. Unfortunately, things aren’t so – but keeping MSIE in offline mode, with Internet Options up highest does help and often.


    ps. Forget about vi$ta..:)

  • xkiller213

    hmmm.. what OS do you use then?

    Wladimir Palant

    Windows XP? Microsoft actually managed to release a good OS, and Vista is now a step in the wrong direction. Let’s wait, maybe after a few service packs it will become a decent OS as well.

  • J Morgan

    Thank-you for your inputs

  • w wales

    why does my kis 2011 say their is a trojan dropper in this program