Up next: IE 8.0

Up next: IE 8.0

Summary: With IE 7 finally out the door, Microsoft has begun sharing some hints about IE 8.0, also known as IE Next. Chris Wilson, the newly minted platform architect for IE, addressed the Ajax Experience crowd this week and presented some of his thinking on what matters for the Web, going forward.

TOPICS: Browser

While the Microsoft-sanctioned name of the next version of Internet Explorer (IE) is IE "Next," it seems it will likely be christened IE 8.0.

That's according to Chris Wilson, the new platform architect for IE. (IE-team veteran Wilson, until a few days ago, was the group platform manager of IE. In his new role, Wilson will be spending his time focusing on making IE a better Web-development platform.)

Wilson delivered a couple of addresses at the Ajax Experience 2006 conference in Boston this week. In addition to dropping the IE 8.0 name, Wilson shared a few other IE-related tidbits, too:

* In the first four days following the release of the final IE 7.0 bits to the Web, 3 million copies were downloaded. And that's before Microsoft began pushing it to users via Automatic Updates.

"IE 7 does more than fix minor features," Wilson said. "It makes Ajax fun to develop on."

* As of last month, 90 percent of Windows users were running Windows XP or Windows Server 2003, according to Wilson. This means Microsoft increasingly will be assuming that developers are -- and should be -- designing for newer versions of Windows and not worrying so much about older releases.

* Currently, about one-third of the browser-compatibility problems encountered by IE 7 are attributable to applications and Web sites assuming IE 6.0 as the default browser. This has been a big problem for online banking applications, Wilson conceded.

While Wilson didn't share many meaty IE 8.0 details, he noted that security, privacy and compatibility will all be top priorities in the next IE release, which is expected some time in the next 12-18 months.

"Mash-ups will continue to drive innovation. Componentization and semantic tagging of data will be supported," Wilson told the Ajax Experience crowd. Wilson touted the harnessing of microformats, like Microsoft has done with its Live Clipboard effort, as "real world stuff" that will "make the Web much more usable."

"Microformats add meaning to content in HTML," Wilson said.

Wilson sounded a few warning bells, as well, telling the Ajax-friendly crowd that the Ajax programming model has "increased attack vectors on the Web," given that it is easier for hackers to get directly at content and data sources.

And while Web frameworks can help developers, by providing a base for more rapid development and application semantics, they also can create a "Tower of Babel" situation for developers attempting to integrate applications developed with different frameworks, Wilson said.

He also noted that one of the most commonly requested IE features -- the ability to run side-by-side versions of IE on the same machine -- is not trivial. (Wilson didn't say this, but I'd say don't count on it showing up in IE 8.0.)

"We (IE) are a set of system DLLs that are used by other parts of the system, so this makes it really hard," Wilson said. "We are trying to figure out how to make IE capable of this in the future."

For now, the best solution is virtualization, he conceded. And while "Virtual PC is now free, we are still trying to figure out the story around images and the licensing of images," Wilson said.

It also sounds as if IE support for XHTML is not going to be an IE 8.0 thing.

"We don't want to do a half-formed job" of XHTML support, Wilson said. He did note that Microsoft is testing a parser and experimenting with integrating multiple schema, however.

What about JavaScript support?

"We've started working on JavaScript again at the company," Wilson said. But the question remains: What do developers and users want JavaScript for? The answer to that question "will determine if we make JavaScript 2 part of our priority list," he said.

Topic: Browser


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • So . . .

    When IE8 comes out, it won't support XHTML or the latest JavaScript?

    After playing catch up all this time, they are still going to be behind . . .

    Let's hope IE8 doesn't take 5 or more years like IE7 did.
  • I don't see how this statement can be true

    "As of last month, 90 percent of Windows users were running Windows XP or Windows Server 2003, according to Wilson. This means Microsoft increasingly will be assuming that developers are ? and should be ? designing for newer versions of Windows and not worrying so much about older releases."
    • I would tend to agree

      It'd be interesting to see where any actual support for that statement comes from and what the numbers are.
    • Onestat

      Onestat says 86.8% of 96.97% are XP.

      Thats 89.51%/

      Close enough to 90% for me.

      • It depends were you get your statistics from...

        ... if you monitored a Microsoft support forum you would get 100% IE. On a techie forum like W3Schools IE is nearer 70%
        2006 IE7 IE6 IE5 Fx Moz N7/8 O7/8/9
        October 3.1% 54.5% 3.2% 28.8% 2.4% 0.3% 1.4%
        September 2.5% 55.6% 4.0% 27.3% 2.3% 0.4% 1.6%
        August 2.0% 56.2% 4.1% 27.1% 2.3% 0.3% 1.6%
        • Wrong item.

          The OS version was in question, not the browser usage.
      • Oops! The formatting stuffed up on the previous post

        Hopefully, this has come out better

        2006 IE7 IE6 IE5 Fx Moz N7/8 O7/8/9
        October 3.1% 54.5% 3.2% 28.8% 2.4% 0.3% 1.4%
        September 2.5% 55.6% 4.0% 27.3% 2.3% 0.4% 1.6%
        August 2.0% 56.2% 4.1% 27.1% 2.3% 0.3% 1.6%
        • IE7 compared to IE6

          I am an avid Linux user since 1999 running Fedora on my laptop at work and RHEL3/4 on the grid servers. I have to say in Windows XP Pro IE7 is a big [b]improvement[/b] over IE6. Just the fact they have finally locked down some problems and fixed them. In Linux FireFox is really the only browser where you can view almost 99% of the webpages without to much fuss.

          IE7 is a much needed revamp that was long overdue for MS.
          Linux User 1
        • Missed the point here

          The article said 90% of Windows users were using XP. No mention of IE. Would think real world use of IE would be greater than 70 though.
          • The point was (and is...)

            ... that for the audience who use the w3schools service, many of them are teccies and developers and they will use browsers other than IE, thus a 70% usage for IE.

            Go to a site catering for newbies and you will get IE usage nearer 100%.

            Monitor Mozilla's development site and I'm willing to bet that IE usage is under 10%.

            The stat.s you get depend were you get them from.
          • IE7 & FireFox2.0

            When comparing the two really there is only 2 decent web-browsers IE7 is a big improvement over FF2.0.

            The user base for both browsers will continue to grow, Microsoft had better put some OT in on IE in order to keep up. It was stagnant and still needs a much needed overhaul.

            Being an expert in IT, I recommend using IE7 in Windows and FF in Linux.

            Linux User 1
          • As another expert in IT...

            I recommend using FF on both Windows and Linux. FF is very good on both...keeping it uniform will help control costs. That is how a well-run IT shop thinks.
          • Expert in IT....

            [i][b]When comparing the two really there is only 2 decent web-browsers IE7 is a big improvement over FF2.0.[/b][/i]

            Apart from the fact this sentance makes no sense whatsoever, it is also completely incorrect.

            Opera 9.02 (& Opera 9.1 if you like the bleeding edge) is ANOTHER DECENT BROWSER!

            Safari is ANOTHER DECENT BROWSER!

            Konqueror is ANOTHER DECENT BROWSER!

            Whether or not they have considerable slice of market share is irrelevent, IF you are talking about whether or not they are "decent" browsers.

            If you are talking about browsers that are multi-OS compatible then Opera is easily as good (and better in a LOT of ways) than Firefox2.0

            You might want to try and keep your mind (and eyes) open to what is actually out there.

            You know what they say about experts...
          • Wow

            Okay, NO. Never that.
            Never Internet Explorer. Opera's good...Safari's exceptional...but Firefox is SO MUCH better than IE...in Windows, Firefox over IE7...Firefox WAY OVER IE7...'s easier to use, takes less time to open, and uses less resources than IE has ever used in its life...lmao
            LINUX POWER!!! Linux PWNS all...
    • several points to note

      first is that it doesn't say 90% of computer users, rather 90% of windows users, 2 totally different numbers. second, both of these versions are 'newer' in comparison to, well, all the rest of the windows line except vista, they have already quit support for xp sp1. third, microsoft can make any assumptions they like. 4th, it is reasonable to conclude that any software company that wishes to stay in business should make sure they are keepingup with newr releases. however, i would note that almost everything which i've used in xp have worked in vista 32 and all but some drivers in vista 64so it'snot really that big of a deal.
      • Yes.

        In fact, I said "nearly 90% of Windows WEB
        share is Windows XP or Server 2003, which we offer IE7 for."

        -Chris Wilson
  • A well run IT shop

    A well run IT shop uses Group Policy.

    And SUS/WSUS or SMS.

    And that means IE7.
  • who cares

    Nobody really cares about microsoft browsers anymore do they?? They are so useless
    • Microsoft still has 85% of the global browser market


      Please take the time to research this before sounding off. Of course people care about MS browsers! I wouldn't say they are useless, as they are at 85% of the global market, slipping only down to above 80% of the US market. Firefox is great, apparently, which is why a whopping 11 1/2% of the people are using it. MS is convenient because it comes with the OS that 86% (that's just Win XP) use on their desktops.


      This shows the breakdown of the most popular operating systems of clients on the web.

      Bottom line is it still works for the masses and there hasn't been enough of a movement by those masses to perceive MSIE as useless, even before IE7 (which admittedly is much better, who cares if it has features that Firefox has had since inception). I use IE out of habit, and nothing really is so great about Firefox that I *have to have it*.
  • Most of the REAL world could care less about IE8

    Who cares about IE8? It's all just TALK about NON-EXISTENT VAPORWARE at this point. Who really cares?!! Microsoft would only be talking up IE8 at this time to try to counter FF2. Not only will Microsoft try to counter FF2 with IE7 but also with the NON-EXISTENT IE8 VAPORWARE. Microsoft always talks up its VAPORWARE to counter competitor's software by telling users to wait for what Microsoft comes up with instead of using the competitor's software. IE is CRAP no matter what version you are using. Just Say No To IE.