What will we see in IE.Next?

Warning This article was written over six months ago, and may contain outdated information.

With complaints about Microsoft’s lack of information regarding the next release of Internet Explorer surfacing again, I thought I’d do a quick trawl of the internet and find out what features we might expect from the next release, both speculated and confirmed.

One thing that’s certain is that we’ll see a new layout engine, which is more compliant with CSS 2.1. Does this mean it will pass the Acid 2 test? Will any of the newer stable CSS features from the 2007 snapshot make it in? Who knows. We have been warned that we will have to opt-in to standards mode, however, although it’s not been made clear yet just how this opt-in will work (I thought that writing standards-compliant HTML meant I was opting in to standards mode, but apparently I’m wrong).

Microsoft (and their commercial competitors) have indicated the way they want the web to develop; based around proprietary technologies. For this reason, Silverlight integration will be a big push for them in the next release, and competing standards will probably not receive the same priority. At last year’s Mix 06 event SVG was mentioned in a presentation about standards support in IE, and IE’s Chris Wilson has said that he ‘expects they will add support for it in the future’. That’s about as non-committal as it comes.

Recently there has been debate about introducing ES4 (‘Javascript 2′) to browsers; Microsoft seem to be against it, Mozilla are for it. Whatever develops further from this, I don’t believe it will impact the next release of IE.

What version of JavaScript they do launch with (Firefox 3 will have version 1.7) remains to be seen, but the rise of AJAX and web apps will be well catered for. As with Firefox 3 (and Google Gears), offline storage for online apps will be provided.

Away from the layout and DOM engine, the browser itself will have a limited API for adding extensions, and it seems that the RSS capabilities are to be heavily beefed up.

Web developers are pushing for lots of changes but the Redmond mantra is ‘don’t break the web’, so it’ll be interesting to see the results of that conflict.

With no official word from the team yet, everything I’ve mentioned here is subject to change. If these features do get implemented, however, it would bring IE.Next up to date and able to compete with its peers on the basis of features, not just because it is a default install.

1 comment on
“What will we see in IE.Next?”

  1. […] in this race — and it seems strange to say this, as they are the market leaders — is Microsoft. We know almost nothing about IE8 yet, but if they come out with a genuinely radical product we could well see them take market share […]