IE7 leaps and bounds better than Firefox? Not in a fair fight!

A couple of days ago I bought this month’s issue of PC Plus magazine (#235, October 2005). It’s the only computer magazine that I regularly buy; primarily because of Wilf’s Workshop, but also because it’s normally fairly balanced about things. This month, however, I’ve had cause to become a little annoyed by it.

In the magazine, John Brandon compares the IE7 Beta 1 with Firefox 1.0.6 and Opera 8 and comes to the conclusion that the future release of IE7 will be a far superior product to those currently available from Mozilla and Opera. If Microsoft was the only company of the three to have a preview version of their next browser available at the time of writing the article then this would have been okay. As it turns out though, there was certainly a developer preview release of Firefox 1.5 (Deer Park) when pen was put to paper (IE7 Beta 1 was released on 29th July, Firefox 1.0.6 on 19th July, and the Deer Park Alpha 2 on 12th July).

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m really looking forward to the release of IE7 (if you already read this blog you’ll know that). The IE7 blog has been being very transparent about the things that they’re doing, and it looks like great things are being done. Anything that brings standards compliance to the majority of web users has got to be a good thing, and as long as IE7 follows through with the standards compliance that it’s been said that it will be following then this will be a massive step in the right direction. But the fact remains that IE7 is playing catch-up.

I should point out at this point that I have not tested IE7 Beta 1 myself, since I do not have an MSDN account, and so I am relying on accounts from the official IEBlog and other sources when I describe the capabilities of IE7 Beta 1 here. I should also point out that I don’t have a huge amount of knowledge about the development of Opera, which is why I do not refer to it here.

My first point of contention with the article is that it revels in the fact that IE7 Beta 1 implements “limited CSS 3.0” support. However, according to the IEBlog, Beta 1 makes little progress for web developers in improving our standards support, particularly in our CSS implementation. The entry continues to state that this increased CSS support will be coming in Beta 2. So, it seems as though the article is already muddling things which were in the Beta which it tested and what is said will be available in the final software release. If the article had used the Deer Park preview as its Firefox comparison version then that too would have had to have been given a “limited 3.0” rating.

Next up in my annoyances is the completely factually incorrect assertion within the article that in order to subscribe to RSS feeds in Firefox and Opera you need to install plugins. This may be true of Opera, but it most certainly isn’t of Firefox 1.0.6, which was tested in the article. In fact, wasn’t Firefox the first of the major web browsers to actually have a built in RSS reader? Hardly a case of “IE7 one-ups them with built in RSS support”, especially when the RSS support hasn’t actually been implemented yet!

It should be noted that John Brandon is a writer for “Official Windows XP Magazine” as well as PC Plus, and has been a beta tester on just about every subsequent Windows release. Lately, he has immersed himself in Windows XP, writing tutorials, reviews, and Focus Guides. A big Softy then. It’s just a pity that the article he wrote for this month’s PC Plus was just a great big advert for Internet Explorer 7, rather than what it should have been - a balanced overview of the next generation browsers from Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera. But then if it had been, people like me wouldn’t be writing things like this, would we?

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comments (5) | write a comment | permalink | View blog reactions


  1. by dsky on October 9, 2005 04:52 PM

    Ah - the old compare unreleased Microsoft product with existing rivals trick…

  2. by Neil Crosby [TypeKey Profile Page] on October 9, 2005 05:13 PM

    Annoys me almightily, it does

  3. by greatred on October 10, 2005 12:30 PM

    Agreed, at least on the RSS front where Firefox has been for ages without the need for plugins.

  4. by Anonymous on October 11, 2005 10:56 PM

    Next up in my annoyances is the completely factually incorrect assertion within the article that in order to subscribe to RSS feeds in Firefox and Opera you need to install plugins. This may be true of Opera

    Opera has a built-in feed readers. It is not a plug-in at all, it comes bundled with the 3.65 Mb of version 8.5

    Interesting stuff about Opera:

    Opera equivalents to Firefox extensions Opera equivalents to Firefox extensions II

  5. by Anonymous on December 5, 2005 10:43 AM

    Hi Guy’s,

    I have just read that IE7 will have to prioritise for existing IE6 compliant sites not breaking. Which means we are still going to have to tweak and holly hack our sites to get them to work in IE7. This is pathetic as the amount of work to do now and in the future for web developers who care about standards far outweighs the small tweaks developers that coded for IE6 will have to do to fix their sites. So I had an idea to solve this and sent the IE7 development team this message:


    Hi There,

    I have been reading several posts on blogs regarding the fact that you are reluctant to support web standards to the possible detrement to old sites and have come up with a solution for you. As a web developer I am one of the thousands of web developers that really, really wish you would stop holding back the possibilities to us because of your lack of support for standards so I am suggesting the following:

    1) IE7 should have a fully standards compliant rendering engine and maybe even use one made by an open source community like Apple have done with Safari.

    2) In order to allow sites that have already been coded for IE6 and no other browser you should also package the old IE6 engine within your program but to make a site use this engine the pages should have the following comment within the html code . Then the browser will know to use this engine. This is a simple thing for the web developer to do and will then allow those of us that don’t want to mess around any more coding for multiple browsers to not have to do so and those that chose to develop only for IE (probably 5%-10% would have a simple job of fixing their sites. Those that chose to build sites that are compatible with most popular browsers (probably 70% - 80%) won’t need to change anything. And there is the 10% - 15% of developers that have decided not to support IE at all. Their sites will render properly within IE7 if you do this.

    Please reply with your comments.

    This is a feasible solution and would benefit developers and the whole of the internet community alike.

    I am going to post this within several popular forums and blogspots as I realise that you may just ignore it.

    ***end quote***

    I realise that I have been a bit of a plonker by suggesting the instead of creating a new line for old IE6 sites but that is kinda obvious and I am tired.

    I would love to hear any developers comments on this idea.


    Paul Randall Web Developer Nottingham UK

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