Microsoft is dogfooding IE8 but also chewing every bit of detail to shreds
Internet Explorer 8 followed by a question mark and an interrogatory tone is about all that can be said about the successor of Internet Explorer 7 at this point in time. IE7 for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 went live in October 2006, then the browser was also integrated in Vista, and it shipped as a default installation of the operating system in November 2006 and January 2007. But after IE7, Microsoft has gone completely mute on what comes next. Sure Chris Wilson, IE Platform Manager, did provide some details related to Internet Explorer 8.0 at MIX07 in Las Vegas, and the most important was that IE8 would drop two years after IE7. This means either that Internet Explorer 8 could be made available by the end of 2008, or even in the beginning of 2009. But, the IE team is now closing in to a whole year of unnatural silence.
“IE7 was done, really done, by the end of the Summer in 2006. Heck, it was done except for bug fixes when I left in May, 2006. It is now, officially, the Fall of 2007. It has been more than a year since work finished on IE7. More than 200 people work on Internet Explorer (heck, if you count “contingent staff” as well as employees, there were more than 120 QA people on IE in mid-2006 and I bet over 100 developers). They’ve all been working on something for a year now. You wouldn’t know it by any public announcements, demonstrations, or [blog] posts,” revealed Al Billings, a former member of the IE team.
The first beta of Internet Explorer 7 was delivered at the end of July 2005. The first release candidate for IE7 became available in August 2007, almost a year after. The current version of IE spent a total of 20 months in development, including the planning stage. At this time, Microsoft is dogfooding Internet Explorer 8, but the browser is available exclusively in house. There are absolutely no signs indicating that IE8 has evolved past the alpha phase. But one thing is for sure, Microsoft started building IE8 in January 2007, and taking into consideration the timeframe it took to get IE7 to users, IE8 appears to be heading for 2009. Meanwhile, Mozilla is getting closer and closer to the first beta for Gran Paradiso (Firefox 3.0) and Apple will release the final version of Safari 3 this month. Microsoft must realize that muting all details on IE8 is detrimental to both users and developers.
“I do agree though that the IE team needs to start talking to the developer community on a much more consistent basis. After the release of IE7 all online chats stopped. The online chats had been taking place every month since well before IE7 was under development. After the release of IE7 the bug reporting system was withdrawn. There have been vague promises that it was only temporary but it has now been almost a year and no replacement is in sight. The IE team does not have to give exact details of IE8 but their complete silence shows a complete lack of respect for the developer community,” opined Dave Massy, a former Senior Program Manager on the IE team.