Most real web developers look forward to new versions of internet browsers like a hole in the head. Many updates introduce new user features which, quite frankly, seem hardly worthwhile – an internet browser is an internet browser… (right?), what more functionality do you need? Case in point is Google’s successful Chrome browser – a great little browser than focuses on speed and simplicity. If people wanted more functionality then how come anybody uses Chrome at all?
But what’s worse is that new versions of browsers tend change the way they display web pages – sometimes leading to broken websites. They do this in order to introduce faster display times and to support more advanced HTML features that allow web developers to use more flashy features in their websites. But with almost 5% of the world still using Internet Explorer 6 – written over 10 years ago – using these new HTML features whilst maintaining backward compatability with older browsers becomes an almost impossible chore – one that many developers ignore in the rush to use the latest display tricks, therefore potentially making the website unusable for some of your website visitors.
Microsoft are currently advertising the Beta programme of their next browser, Internet Explorer 9:
We’re hoping that it will be a positive step forwards after the previous ‘upgrade’ to IE, version 8, did a far better job of driving market share to other browsers than any anti-competition legislation because of its appalling implementation and backwards compatability problems (as far as I’m concerned they never fixed its memory leak problems – using it all day as a professional finds you restarting it every 2 hours or so because it gobbles up all the memory in your PC. Hence why we use the Firefox and Chrome browsers instead).
One thing we would recommend is, unless you are a web professional, steer well clear of the beta version of the product. Based on experience of the beta versions of IE8 it could cause you big problems accessing your favourite websites!
Clicking on the IE9 beta ads that are starting to appear on the internet led to the following website… hopefully not a sign of things to come… oh joy!