Businesses are being warned that on 12 February, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) will automatically update Internet Explorer to version 7, unless they act to prevent the update.
Since October, Windows Genuine Advantage validation has not been required to upgrade to IE7 anS Microsoft announced back then that the automatic update will happen next month.
System administrators who have set WSUS to auto approve Update Rollup packages must disable the auto update feature before 12 February. After then, they must update the package and then switch the auto approve feature back on.
You can read the whole InfoWorld article here.
But what does that mean to us as Webmasters? Good news, that’s what. The sooner Internet Explorer 6 is gone the better. More browsers to support is always bad news, as I made clear on the CSS subject. IE6 was put together in such a way that it had to support standards but also support the hacked-up, non-standard CSS that developers were forced to use to make a page work in IE5. Microsoft couldn’t just release a browser that was fully standardS compliant because many pages had to be written in a non-standard way. It was hard for them to break the cycle, despite them introducing quirks mode into IE.
But IE7 is more standards compliant, and IE8 is even more standards compliant and even passes the Acid2 test. The time will soon come when there will be such thing as “compliant,” not just “IE compliant” or “Firefox compliant.”
However, there is a twist in the story. Microsoft wants us to use a meta tag to trigger proper rendering in IE8:
<meta http-equiv=”X-UA-Compatible” content=”IE=8″ />
To me this is a bad idea. They are in a catch 22 situation. IE used to render in quirks mode if it did not detect a valid DOCTYPE. Now pages are being hacked together due to IE6′s flaws but they do contain a valid DOCTYPE. So they don’t render properly in IE7. Or, more specifically, they render how they should render, but not how they did in IE6. They must break this cycle. If they introduce this meta tag now they will never be able to drop it. (You can read about the decision-making process in an article on A List Apart by Aaron Gustafson, who is a member of the WaSP-Microsoft Task Force )
Perhaps an op-out meta tag would work, I don’t know. But Microsft must not implement this meta tag. It will be a big mistake if they do and they will never be able to drop it. So when IE9 is released these meta tags must be updated. Or should webmasters just sort out their web pages and CSS for one last time and be happy that all the browsers are standards compliant? I doubt that.
The following chart, created with the superb Google Charts API shows the Internet Explorer browser versions on the WebCards website from October 2006 to January 2008.
They have almost a 50-50 share and I expect IE7 to be the most popular browser by next month.
You can read a lot more about this on the post from the IE blog entitled Compatibility and IE8.