With Microsoft set to release its first beta of Internet Explorer (IE) 7 to testers next week, the company is trying to prepare developers for the release, which will identify itself to Web servers differently than its predecessors. However, IE 7 should be treated just like IE 6, Microsoft says, despite the fact that it appears to be a different browser.
"Developers should ensure that their sites are ready for the IE 7 user agent string and treat IE 7 just like they would IE 6," Microsoft Internet Platforms and Security Product Management director Gary Schare told eWeek recently. "We will announce more details in the coming months."
The IE 7 user agent string, which is used to identify the browser to Web servers, first surfaced in an April 27 posting to Microsoft's IEBlog, which is maintained by members of the recently reconstituted IE team. "As we updated the User-Agent, we considered application-compatibility issues, historical precedent, and feedback from the community," the posting reads. "We arrived at a very simple string."
The issue is that many Web site developers test specifically for IE 6, which is by far the most popular Web browser on the planet, which approximately 90 percent of the market. Though IE 7 offers a superset of IE 6's rendering capabilities, it should render most Web sites identically to IE 6 and thus shouldn't be treated too differently.
I expect the first IE 7 beta to be released concurrently with Longhorn Beta 1. Unlike Longhorn Beta 1, however, IE 7 Beta 1 will likely be made available to the public. Both releases are due next week.
Link: IE Blog