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Microsoft Planning Life After IE7

That's the message that Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 developers told participants in an online chat today on the eve of Microsoft's first major browser release in over five years.

"We definitely plan to release on a regular basis," Dave Massy, senior program manager on the IE team, said.

"Exactly when the next release will be is difficult to predict and we still have plenty of planning and work to do.

"You can be assured that it will not be five years until the next release of IE, though we are planning the next two versions now."

Participants of the online chat repeatedly assailed the Microsoft staffers about precisely when IE 7 would be available, bugs they still see in the new browser and about features they'd like to see.

On the question of when IE 7 will ship, the answer time and again was, this month.

"There are a lot of questions surrounding the final release date and the rumors about when we're going to release," Tony Chor, group program manager for IE, said.

"As we've stated on the blog, we plan to ship before the end of the month. It will go up on the Download Center first (and will always be available there).

"A few weeks after release, we'll start sending IE7 out over AU [Automatic Updates] as well. If you want to block the AU deployment for your company, we strongly recommend having the blocker tool in place by November 1."

The blocker tool that will allow administrators to block IE 7 from automatically deploying onto their users' machines is available at

The timing of the IE 7 release prompted one participant to ask if Microsoft would be ruining Thanksgiving by making IE7 a critical update just before the holiday. "Mom will be asking me how this 'new Internet thing' works and won't give me any turkey until I "fix it for her,'" the participant wrote.

"Well I look at it like this, you're going to have a wonderful thanksgiving because she'll be thanking you for how much better, safer and easier her browser is," Microsoft Program Manager Uche Enuha responded.

Chat participants were also curious about whether Microsoft was going to be adding any additional functionally to IE7 over what is in the currently available IE 7 Release Candidate 1 (RC1).

"The main changes between RC1 and the final release will be many many bug changes that help improve the overall reliability of the browser," Max Stevens, lead program manager for IE said.

"There won't be any major new features -- these are being considered for our next release after IE7."

Microsoft did not provide any specific or quantifiable number of bugs that that have been resolved since RC1, though they claim to have resolved the most critical issues.

Chat participants were more than willing to share their share of bugs that they don't think have yet been fixed, as well as features they think should have been added to the browser.

One participant noted that they would like to see download management and much-improved JavaScript debugging.

Another asked if there will ever be a feature in IE that will allow the user to set their temporary files to automatically delete after so many days like the history does.

The standard Microsoft response to the suggestions was "Thanks" and "we'll look into it for future releases."

On the deficiency side, Microsoft was repeatedly berated about CSS (define) being the weak link for IE, a charge that Microsoft didn't entirely disagree with.

"We've worked to improve CSS support in IE7," Massy explained. "We know there is more work to be done in the next release. You feedback helps us prioritize that work so that we deliver on the most useful functionality first."

In general though, most participants lavished praise upon Microsoft for IE 7.

"As a web developer, I would just like to say a big THANK YOU for fixing the majority of issues that existed in IE6, as well as added support and fixes for various CSS properties and of course PNG transparency," one chat participant wrote.

"Working with IE7 is now a real pleasure."

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