Saturday, February 18, 2006

IE7 Wants a PC All It's Own

A user reported that a page produced by Second Site didn't look right in a beta version of IE7. Given that the page looked right in Firefox and in IE6, and given that IE7 is supposed to be more compliant with standards, one would think the page would look right in IE7.

The first thing to mention is that IE7 is still in beta, and so an IE7 bug may be responsible for the problem. On the other hand, pages produced by Second Site use pretty vanilla HTML and CSS, and it seems likely that an IE7 bug that affected Second Site would affect a lot of sites and there would be a general hue and cry about it. There isn't, so that means Second Site might be doing something wrong.

The second thing to mention is that some changes in IE7 are going to break existing sites that used work-arounds to make IE6 render pages properly. There's lots of discussion of this on the web, including an article CSS Hacks and IE7 on Position Is Everything, a very useful site that discusses CSS bugs in modern browsers and other CSS-related topics.

It turns out that Second Site avoids using those CSS tricks and so the problem isn't one of those.

At this point, I don't know what the problem is, and that brings us to the reason for this blog entry. I am going to have to install a version of IE7 and see the problem firsthand to solve it.That should be easy, but it isn't...

Microsoft says that IE7 can not coexist on the same PC with IE6.

Here's my reaction to that bit of news.

  1. It wasn't a surprise. The same was true of previous versions of IE. It's been a PITA for a while.
  2. I need a working copy of IE6 on the PC I use to develop Second Site. Whenever I make any change to Second Site, I test the change using Firefox 1.5 and IE6. Those two browsers are used by the lion's share of the browsing audience and I need both of them on my main development PC.
  3. I don't want to risk the stability of any other PCs I use for other tasks by installing IE7.
  4. My development PC currently has the following non-Microsoft browsers installed and operating properly:
    • Firefox
    • Firefox 1.0.7
    • Mozilla 1.7.7
    • Opera 8.5
    • Opera 7.54
    • Netscape 8.1
    • Netscape 7.2
    • Netscape 7.1
    • Netscape 6.2
    • Netscape Communicator 4.76

    Why is it that all those other browsers can peacefully coexist, but IE6 and IE7 won't? It's a rhetorical question. I don't really want to know the answer; I want Microsoft to fix the problem.

I can't find the blog link now, but some developers have argued that other developers ought to stop whining about this problem and buy a PC to use for IE7 testing. I don't know about you, but I don't have money burning a hole in my pocket that I am just dying to spend for a PC dedicated to IE7, and I don't have an extra PC lying around. When Bill Gates sends me a check for $1000, that's when I'll consider buying a PC for IE7 testing.

Meanwhile, I found some unofficial instructions for installing IE7 without uninstalling IE6. If I install IE7 at all, I'll probably do it that way.

Sorry about this rant going on so long, but there's one last thing. The web is a democracy, and you get a vote. In fact, you get several. You vote by the sites you visit, the ads you click, and the tools you use. If you are using Internet Explorer, you are essentially voting for Microsoft to keep operating the way they have been for a few years now. That's a bad use of your voting power. I urge you to download and use Firefox. Vote for the challenger, so that the incumbent will know you demand a better browser.


Scrogginsdata said...

I've used Firefox for ages.
Unfortunately, the new version crashes on me several times a day, somethign that never happened before 1.5.

Virtually every time it crashes, the Blogger post form is open or has just been closed in one window and Gmail and/or Google Maps are open in another window(s).

Mary Lane said...

I agree wholeheartedly regarding the Microsoft attitude and the need to encourage them to harmonize and comply.

Andy said...

Try creating a virtual machine with Windows XP as the operating system. Then load the IE7 Beta for Windows XP. You can then save that virtual machine to call up whenever you need to use IE7. We use VMware Workstation for this purpose, which you can get for less than $200. BTW, this allows you to make LOTS of virtual machines, each with a different configuration, so you don't need to have every browser known to mankind loaded at the same time.