2 new browsers in the same month?!?
This past month, the two most popular browsers, Internet Explorer and Firefox, have both released new versions. I’ve spent some time playing around in both and have noticed some interesting updates.
Internet Explorer 7
This is the first major release of the Internet Explorer browser in years (I believe the previous version 6 was released over 5 years ago). The new version was much needed as most web developers saw Internet Explorer as a hinderance in creating web content.
I have to admit, I was quite impressed with the CSS improvements in the browser. While many have to complained that it is still not nearly as compliant as other browsers such as Opera or Firefox, I’m just glad to see the major bugs cleaned up. I’m glad the IE7 team chose to put priority on fixing major visual bugs instead of focusing entirely on passing a silly test. While standards-compliance is important, it can’t simply be achieved overnight.
I’m ecstatic about the new Page Zoom feature in IE7. It allows the user to zoom into the page much like you would a PDF document. It’s a huge step beyond simply enlarging the text on the page, which break a majority of page designs. Page Zoom makes fixed width layouts usable on super high resolution monitors. If this feature becomes popular enough, I think we’ll see a shift towards more fixed layouts. Unfortunately, Firefox’s version of the feature is buggy to an unusable level.
I’ve been less impressed with the latest release of Firefox 2. To me, it seems this release was meant more to take some of the attention away from IE7 and put it back on Firefox.
There are few things that I find revolutionary about this latest release. I have noticed an increase in browser crashes in this latest version compared to 1.5. To be fair, it may be related to just the OS X release (or for that matter, something else different entirely). Mozilla puts most of its development efforts in the Windows and Linux versions of their browser.
One common improvement
I’m happy with the UI improvements in both browsers. IE7 had a huge UI update and I think it turned out nicely. God knows most Microsoft products could use an interface overhaul. Firefox UI changes were a little less extreme, but still nicely done. I prefer the closing button on every tab that is now offered by both IE7 and Firefox 2.
All in all, I’m just happy to see that browser technology is still improving. Better yet, they’ve taken enough care with the changes to their browsers, that my work as a web developer doesn’t become a whole lot more confusing.