Martin McKeay

What if I don't want IE7?

By Martin McKeay
October 11, 2006 9:15 AM EDT
Microsoft is looking to push out Internet Explorer 7 some time this month as a mandatory security update.  This means every system that's performing automatic updates will download and install IE7 as soon as it's available.  Overall, this is a good thing, especially for home users who might not know enough to upgrade on their own, but it also means a lot of headaches.  As pointed out on Securosis, IE7 is more standards compliant than IE6, and will most likely break a number of sites that were originally designed for IE6. 

I tested IE7 when the first beta version came out earlier this year.  I installed it in a virtual machine and played with it for a while to see what it was like.  My first big disappointment was that its biggest security feature, protected mode, only works in Vista and won't be available to users of XP and previous operating systems.  I found a number of sites that didn't display properly in IE7, but at that time I chalked it up to it being beta software.  After a couple of weeks worth of trial, I stopped using the virtual machine and IE7 and went back to Firefox.  As a side note, I listened to the latest episode of the Diggnation podcast, and Kevin Rose says IE7 breaks their site.  Think that'll cause any waves?

I'm torn on this issue:  IE7 is more secure than IE6 (how could it not be?) and I think the majority of home users do need to upgrade.  But making it a mandatory upgrade as soon as it's publicly available strikes me as draconian and premature.  I don't like having major upgrades to something as fundamental as my browser forced on me.  Especially when I know IE7 is going to break things.  I just hope it doesn't break Outlook Web Access, since that's the only thing I fire up IE for; for the rest of my browsing I use Firefox.