Chat with the IE Team

aebrahim has a blog post containing an IRC log of a chat with the IE development team, which they hope to be the first of many.

A few years ago, it would have been unthinkable for any Microsoft development team to hold webchats with all-comers. It seems that they are attempting to take some things from the open development model. Interesting, though, how the old way of doing things shows through – the chat was run by a “Product Manager on the Communities team”.

Most of it seems to be hedging about the “standards support”, “transparent PNG” and “improved security” questions, and batting off feature requests to make IE more like Firefox. However, there are a few interesting points:

Q: what factors weigh into the IE teams’ considerations for new fixes and features for upcoming versions? Popular demand is one thing but I’m interested to know what else goes into the decision-making

A: Obviously, security has recently become a top consideration when considering the features we add and how they’re implemented.

(Emphasis mine.) Enough said.

Q: How much progress has been made on the patch [for the shell: protocol issue]? Is it going to be 1 week or a month… How close are you?

A: Sorry, I can’t offer specifics. Please understand that there are a lot of super complex issues… briefly, we have to make sure that we protect against variants of the exploit not just the immediate exploit. We need to make sure that the fixes don’t regress other functionality and “break” parts of the web for consumers, corporations, or developers. We have to support over 400+ IE, OS, and language combinations and make sure they are all of good quality. Of course, the team works around the clock to make this happen as quickly as possible.

The comparison with how simple and quick this issue was to fix in Mozilla is instructive. OK, we don’t have such a large backwards compatibility problem – but this is a rod Microsoft made for their own back by implementing shell: in the first place.

Jana_MS : Regarding someone’s post about Robert Scoble using FireFox, I just emailed him and here is his response “I do use Firefox and have said so on my blog. But only 40% of the time. I still like IE better.”

Looks like Scoble’s coming under some internal pressure and being forced to backtrack…

Q: What is yout opinion for webpages that say “Only viewable with IE”, isn’t that discrimination? Isn’t information supposed to be for all?

A: These statements are a decision made solely by the web designer. You are certainly free to complain to the webmaster when you see such a message.

Now there’s a quote for the Tech Evangelism team to show around. “Microsoft suggests complaining about sites which are IE-only.”

Q: Will there be interim updates of IE between now and Longhorn, means updates that fix outstanding issues, incl stuff like CSS2 and PNG transparency?

A: Hi Tom, At this stage we can’t make any commitments. The timeframe for Longhorn does not actually give us very much time to undertake a great amount of work especially given teh amount of testing we need to undertake to ensure a quality release that does not break the internet or many intranets and web applications.

Good news for us. Even the IE shipping with Longhorn (several years off) won’t be much better than the current one. By that stage, we’ll be out of sight.

6 thoughts on “Chat with the IE Team

  1. Would be nice if they had suggested complaining about IE-only websites. But all they said was that people are free to complain, which is true.

    I think I recall Ben writing in a forum post some time ago that people could switch back to IE if they wanted. I don’t think he would be too happy if someone said “Firefox developer suggests that people switch to IE” :)

    I’m also not sure that the comment means Scoble is backtracking – obviously that quote is defensive because someone misrepresented what he’d said about Firefox previously. In everything of his I’ve read he’s been pretty careful not to actually promote Firefox as a whole browser.

  2. It is a fact that MS has sites that require IE, for example Windows Update. I think that is perfectly natural. If they went public with how the update-site actually works, it would propably make things easier for virus-writers etc. Long Live Windows!!

  3. Hope to see some progress in IE because i’m sad to see that for example Opera, Firefox and bunch of other so called web browsers are lighter and have more and better functions than IE. At MS you people have to realise that there might be better ways doing things than your way. And explains you have been giving are just sorry excuses that all the other browser developers have solved except that “for your eyes only” problem meaning webmasters IE preferring designs. Thanks for the opportunity to give a piece out of my mind.

    Happy user of Opera, Firefox and Avant Browser(I know this is not a browser and it is based on IE, some might call this a plug-in)

    Don’t mess with Pohjanmaa