Big Internet Explorer News!!
What is this exciting news that brings Dean out to dust off his blog posting skills after more than a year of disuse? The news is…the next version of IE will be called “Internet Explorer 8!!!”
My natural response is along the lines of: “WTF?! Are you shitting me? After a year of BS and silence, you’re telling us that it is called “IE8” now with no word on features, dates, or anything?”
The more appropriate response is the sound that I am hearing of a million web developers’ jaws dropping and hitting their desks. Given the public beating that the IE team is taking in their blog (which is the ONLY means anyone outside of Microsoft has to communicate with the team), you’d think he might take this opportunity to address some of the responses and questions from people. Heck, he can filter out the flames and just say something about what the 500 lb. gorilla of the Windows web browsing world is doing in its next version. Does he? No.
Color me completely unsurprised. I don’t know what is up with Microsoft in the last year but they seem to have completely turned their backs on talking to people. Since IE still ships with every version of Windows and comes down Windows Update to everyone running it, there is no way to just ignore them completely. They will have an effect on the rest of us working on an open web. The lack of content (not to mention the fact that the head of IE doesn’t even blog for an entire year) is insulting.
In the meantime, the WebKit community has made its own development more transparent with Planet WebKit that rolls up a number of blogs. This went live last night and it is cool to see. The Opera people have also been very good about a lot of transparency, and early builds, for their work and thinking. The IE team is really the only group that seems to be really not playing well with others here.
As always, just my uninformed opinion.
Update: Some details of the Bill Gates chat at Mix ‘n Mash yesterday are available, as it turns out. This was just forwarded to me after a conversation that I had. Take a look at page 18 of the transcript (warning: it is a word document):
MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: So, I have a little bit of an infrastructure question, as related to MIX and the open conversation and transparency. A few years ago, MIX was a big information and conversation about the opening of ideas, it was about when in the specific we talked about the browser, IE 7, a lot of interest in that, a lot of (inaudible) talking about it. So, for the last year or so, I've been working, I've been a consultant here with the IE and (inaudible) team to try and help get standards implementation to be strong, and we see some really great advances. But very recently there seems to be a shift in infrastructure, and I don't really know exactly what happened, but what I understand, my understanding is that IE sits on the Web platform rather than in the -- excuse me, on the platform, on the Windows platform rather than the Web, and something seems to have changed where there is no messaging now for the last six months to a year going out on the IE team. We seem to have had -- they seem to have lost the transparency that they had been able to get some momentum going on in the IE 7 phase, in the year and a half (off mike) at MIX. So, I'm very concerned about this, because being the person here that's supposed to be the liaison between designers and developers for the Web and the browser conversation, this conversation seems to have been pretty much shut down, and I'm very concerned as to why that is, and how we can correct it. BILL GATES: I'll have to ask Dean what the hell is going on. I mean, we're not -- there's not like some deep secret about what we're doing with IE. MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: But they're not letting -- like you know how people (inaudible) going around talking (inaudible), but I do realize that there is a new engine, there is some information, and this information is not -- we are being asked not to talk about it. So, I'm concerned about that. BILL GATES: I'll ask Dean what's going on. [...] BILL GATES: There's a paradox about disclosure, which is when you're far away from doing something you're super open; when you're very close to doing something you're open; when you're making your cut list of what you can do and not do, then particularly because -- well -- PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible) expectations and that causes trouble. BILL GATES: Yeah, and so I don't know where Dean is in terms of if he's willing to commit what's in IE 8 and what's not in IE 8. In terms of standards support, he'll see that it's a glass half full. It adds a bunch of new stuff we didn't have before, it doesn't add everything that everybody wants us to do. MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: I mean, really IE 7 (off mike). BILL GATES: No, and believe me, Dean gets this stuff. MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: Oh, Dean totally gets it, and that's why I'm concerned, because they have always been so forward facing. So, my -- BILL GATES: I'll look into it. MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: Yeah, do. (Off mike). BILL GATES: I mean, I will look into it.