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Microsoft's IE Team Leader Answers Slashdot Questions 530

Posted by Roblimo
from the imagine-the-talk-around-the-office dept.
We got lots and lots of questions for Dean Hachamovitch, whose formal title is "general manager Internet Explorer at Microsoft Corp." Picking a mere 10 of those questions was not easy, and I wish Dean could have answered twice as many -- and so does he, but his schedule has been tight this week. Anyway, here are his answers to the Chosen Ten.
1) How about this...
by also-rr

Would you like to make available IE on other operating systems?

Dean Hachamovitch:

We did make versions of IE available on other operating system for a pretty long time, up through IE5 on Unix and the Mac. At the time we developed them, those offerings made sense. I don't see a good reason to make IE available on other operating systems at this time.

2) IE7 release time
by BeeBeard Why did IE7 take such a long time to release after IE6?



Dean Hachamovitch:

Basically because we were doing a lot of other things before we started work on IE7: a few releases of MSN Explorer, a lot of work on what turned out to be Windows Presentation Foundation, a lot of investment in what turned into IPv6 support in Windows Vista, and lot of security response, a pretty intense effort on Windows Server 2003 (and IE's "Enhanced Security Configuration"), and then a pretty intense effort on Windows XPSP2. You can read a more detailed answer here

3) Follow up
by LordEd

If you had more time, is there a new feature you would have liked to include in IE7?

Dean Hachamovitch:

Yes, several come to mind. None were more important than shipping. None were more important than the bug fix work we did in response to beta feedback.

The temptation to get "just one more feature in" is so strong... one more CSS fix, one more neat facility for developers, one more performance optimization, one more cool end-user feature. The thing that made it easier to resist the temptation and ship is the prototype and planning work we've started on the next release of IE.

4) Simple questions
by Billosaur

IE has a dominating command of the market, although Firefox is slowly making inroads, due to innovations such as tabbed browsing that IE has had to incorporate to maintain that command. But where are the IE innovations? Why can't the IE team get ahead of the curve on Firefox? Is there anything you consider an innovation that is unique to IE that would plausibly be something the browser market would have to incorporate to stay competitive?

Dean Hachamovitch:

I think IE7 is the first browser with integrated real-time anti-phishing functionality, with an RSS platform and support for Simple List Extensions (see below), with "QuickTabs," with support for OpenSearch, and with shrink-to-fit printing on by default. In Windows Vista with Protected Mode, IE7 is the first browser to "put itself into a sandbox" and run with low privileges.

I think that during the IE7 beta process, you've seen other browser vendors copy some of these features and/or deliver add-ons for others. (IE has also delivered some functionality - like spell-checking in forms or in-line find, as add-ons; you can read more here.

I want to call out the Phishing Filter and RSS in particular. I think there's a clear difference between the protection offered in IE7 and other places. I suggest readers look here and here and decide for themselves. I was surprised when I read this because I think IE7 delivers real-time protection that respects user privacy at the same time.

I think IE7's RSS is pretty deep. First, the support for the Simple List Extensions that we made available under a Creative Commons license is cool - check out the links below in IE7. Also, the platform enables developers to deliver on some great scenarios, like sharing subscription information between different applications and services easily (from the new version of Outlook 2007 I run at work to IE7 at home via Newsgator). You can read more about that here.

- Amazon Wish List as an RSS feed

- eBay Search Result as an RSS feed

- Yahoo Music Top 10 list as an RSS feed

In regards to tabs, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabbed_browsing, NetCaptor (an IE-based browser) was first.

5) My shot
by Njovich

What do you consider the greatest weakness of Firefox?

Dean Hachamovitch:

Hey, I've met a bunch of the Firefox folks and respect them and am not about to say mean things about them or their product, period. I have started to see some things that even some Slashdotters find a little confusing, like the whole Iceweasel thing.

6) Security
by Seto89

One of IE7's revolutionary features was supposed to be security, although it took less than 24 hours for Secunia to post an advisory about a security hole. Moreover, the bug seemed to be carried over from as early as IE5.5. What approach did you take to improve browser's security, and how come the vulnerabilities have been carried over?

Dean Hachamovitch:

The overall approach we took is called the secure development lifecycle. You can read more about it in general at http://msdn.microsoft.com/security/default.aspx?pull=/library/en-us/dnsecure/html/sdl.asp and http://www.microsoft.com/MSPress/books/8753.asp. The very short version is that we stepped back to analyze all the ways to attack a browser and then figured out the best ways to defend in depth against attacks. We reduced attack surface area, for example, turning off several feature and protocols by default and with ActiveX opt-in. We re-wrote a lot of the URL handling code in our networking layer. We ran a lot of tools against the source code to look for vulnerabilities. We listened to feedback from lots of smart people who are skilled in the art of attack.

As anyone who reads SecurityFocus or FullDisclosure will tell you, security is an industry problem and innovation in attacks is ongoing.

The MHTML issue is pretty interesting. IE calls another Windows component to handle some MTHML functionality. That component has a vulnerability. The important things here are (1) a malicious site can steal user data and (2) of course Microsoft cares about privacy and will fix this issue promptly. Some of the blogs over at zdnet - in particular George Ou's and Ed Bott's, have had some balanced opinion pieces on this issue.

While I was writing this, someone disclosed another issue irresponsibly. On the one hand, it's minor (a malicious site can make the address bar, when it's selected and in a pop-up window, deceiving... clicking in the pop-up window addresses the issue) and our anti-phishing technology helps a lot. The MSRC blog has more detail. At the same time, an attacker could draw a fake or misleading address bar in a pop-up window in a browser that doesn't automatically show the address bar in every window. Again, I think all this shows is that innovation in attacks is ongoing.

7) How about this....
by Toreo asesino

Let's pretend for a moment that Internet Explorer isn't the default web-browser built into Windows and instead, users are presented with a choice on first login (e.g. a message asking 'How would you like to browse the internet? MSIE, Firefox, Opera').

Would you expect IE to become as dominant as it is now if users had to specifically choose it over another?

Ignoring the slight impracticalities, if so (I'm guessing you do), on what basis would this be?

Dean Hachamovitch:

OK, I'll pretend. My first question is when we ask users this question... if it's in 1995, then Opera isn't on the list (Wikipedia just told me that its first public release was in 1996) and neither is Firefox. If it's today, then, candidly, we have 10+ years of people seeing the IE icon and all that that means to them.

The funny thing about your question is that in some ways, users are about two clicks from this scenario every time they run Windows XP: from the Start menu, select Set Program Access and Defaults. And it's not limited to the browsers you list, but any browser that they can download.

To answer your core question: I don't know how people would answer that question. I think we've asked users far simpler ones (like setup programs that ask "Do you want a typical or custom software installation?") that have proven frustrating to them. I do blog searches just about every day to read what people are saying about their browser choice, the browser I work on, and the other browsers you list. While it may surprise you, for many users, the differences between today's browsers aren't as clear and obvious as they may seem to many in the Slashdot crowd. I've read a lot of posts that say, "I tried IE7, I'm pleasantly surprised, and I'm switching back." (I read a lot of others for sure.) For some folks, having professional technical support to contact makes all the difference in their browser choice. During a press interview with a technical trade journal recently I asked the reporter "So what do you browse with" and he said "Mostly IE6, sometimes Firefox 1.5." That might surprise some of you.

8) Allowing Developers to Test for Compatibility
by miyako

IE7, like IE6, renders a lot of pages significantly differently than the other main HTML rendering engines available (Geko, KHTML, and Opera). At the same time, IE7 requires WGA to run - so that applications like Wine are unable to run it. This means that web developers who are using Linux and Mac OS X will have an extremely difficult time testing their sites with IE7. Was this intentional? If so what was the reason behind it (do you want to force developers to move to Windows for web development, or simply set IE aside as something different that isn't a regular browser and must be specifically developed for), and if not how do you plan to rectify the situation?

Dean Hachamovitch:

I think the core of your question is about giving away Windows licenses for free. We love developers, period. We're also not about to give away Windows client licenses. Because we want end-users to have a great experience on the web, of course we want web developers to have an easy experience working with IE and testing their sites with IE. That's why we published tools like the web developer toolbar and the Application Compatibility Toolkit and so much documentation during the course of IE7 development. I also respect that - as hard as everyone at Microsoft works to make Windows the best operating system for developers run - some developers will choose to run others. Mac developers have a fine solution - I've talked with hardcore Mac people who bought a copy of Windows that they run on their Mac with Parallels to test their work in IE. For other developers, I've seen some very clever solutions like BrowserCam that should help.

9) I asked Hakon about CSS and now I ask you:
by Chabil Ha'

This past summer Håkon Wium Lie was interviewed on /. and my question was selected concerning IE7's glaring lack of full CSS support. Why is it that MS has avoided meeting at least the ACID2 spec for CSS in order to bring some semblance of comformity for developers?

Håkon Wium Lie's response to these questions is boiled down to the fact that you do have the talent and resources to fix these issues and he says that "the fundamental reason, I believe, is that standards don't benefit monopolists" like MS.

How do you respond to his comments (the author of the CSS spec) and does MS have any near future plans to adhere to the existing CSS standard? If not, what would it take for MS to take a more proactive role in supporting it?

Dean Hachamovitch:

During IE7's development, we prioritized the work we did based on the web development community's real-world feedback. The engineering exercise here was choosing the best work for a finite number of developers to do during a finite period of time, especially given the compatibility impact of changing how IE behaves. The work that we delivered in IE7 simply has more positive impact and makes web developers' jobs easier than making an arbitrary (if terribly clever) web page render the way its author intended.

The Acid 2 test explicitly states that it isn't part of a formal compliance suite and it is not a "spec for CSS." It's a suite of tests of HTML, CSS, PNG, and data URL features that Mr. Lie thought were important. I'm glad that Mr. Lie - who is one of the authors of the CSS specifications - acknowledges that Microsoft's developers have the talent to address these issues.

The question here isn't whether we want to support those features or if we understand that web developers want them (we do), but simply prioritization. We focused on web developers' real world problems.

The real goal here is interoperability - something that Microsoft product teams believe in (remember, Microsoft has more than one product that works with HTML, CSS, and other web standards, and they have to interoperate too) and something that benefits customers (end-users, developers, IT Pros, et al.) across the board. The work in Windows Vista around IPv6 as well as the work we've done in IE7 with OpenSearch, RSS and with Certificate Authorities and other browser vendors on Extended Validation certificates are good examples of following through on that belief in interoperability.

Your question also asks about Microsoft's plans to comply with the existing CSS standard; there are actually several CSS standards, some still under construction (CSS level 3) and some made obsolete over time (e.g. CSS 2.1 fixing errors, removing ambiguities and changing required behavior from CSS 2). Just as we did in IE7, we're going to listen to the web development community and prioritize the remaining CSS work and deliver the parts we hear are most important first. We do intend to comply with the standard; no other browser I'm aware of has complete support of every feature in CSS 2.1, so it's clear that we all have to use prioritization to know where best to place our resources.

10) Why develop IE at all
by CmdrGravy

Given that you are not planning on selling IE 7 and the fact that there are already other browsers on the market which can allow Windows users to experience the web fully why is Microsoft investing so much time and effort in continuing the development of IE?

Dean Hachamovitch:

Windows customers expect the best, safest experience with their PCs out of the box, especially around the web browser. We're investing so much time and effort in IE in order to give Windows customers a great, secure, default experience. I'm glad that users can choose other browsers as they see fit - Windows is a platform. We're working this hard on IE because so many end-users rely on it and so many developers have built on the APIs that IE exposes as a part of the Windows platform.

-------

Editor's note: Next week's Slashdot interview guest will be a FireFox person. Only fair, right? :)
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Microsoft's IE Team Leader Answers Slashdot Questions

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  • by stocke2 (600251) * on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:27PM (#16611358)
    I want to know if being able to use all that doublespeak and back speak is a requirement for the job, or if microsoft teaches them how to do it.
    he writes these long answers to some of the questions, but just turns it all around twists it up and inside out, by the time you read the entire answer you realize he didn't say anything at all.
  • by Channard (693317) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:29PM (#16611386) Journal
    'We did make versions of IE available on other operating system for a pretty long time, up through IE5 on Unix and the Mac. At the time we developed them, those offerings made sense. I don't see a good reason to make IE available on other operating systems at this time.'


    Thing is, that's not good enough for some web designers. I used to a bunch of online surveys to make a bit of cash, on Windows. These apparently required IE for some reason, and would complain with any other browser. Now, I recently got a Mac Mini and tried using the bundled IE 5 to do the surveys. No joy. No, it didn't complain I was using an old version of IE. It complained that I wasn't use IE on Windows. I ditched the surveys because I was getting crappy money anyway, so it was no great loss, but this was the first time I'd seen a web site differentiate between IE on different operating systems. So in this case, having the latest version of IE on a Mac wouldn't have made a blind bit of difference.

    • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:43PM (#16611646)
      Honestly, you don't see Apple making Safari for Linux and Windows (and though Safari is based on KHTML, it's a lot more too).

      Operating System vendors have no incentive, no matter who they are, to make their products available on other platforms. Open Source apps have the advantage that those with a little more objectivity can take the code and release it for a competitor, but that's not exactly the same thing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by curunir (98273) *
      The problem with IE5 for Mac is that it was released on a staggered development cycle from IE on the PC. This led to radically different functionality depending on the platform. IE for the Mac was a huge step forward (for IE at the time, that is) when it comes to standards compliance. But it doesn't help developers to comply to standards in one place and not the other. So when the next version of IE came out on Windows, it was in some ways more standards compliant than IE for Mac. But it was also somew
  • by Chris Pimlott (16212) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:29PM (#16611392)
    Q: If you had more time, is there a new feature you would have liked to include in IE7?
    A: (summarized) Yes.

    I guess what he should have asked was:

    Q: If you had more time, what are some new features you would have liked to include in IE7?
    • by lawpoop (604919) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:46PM (#16611698) Homepage Journal
      No, the problem lies with the editor picking crappy questions, or not fixing questions that could have been better.

      First question:

      Q. "Would you like to make available IE on other operating systems?"

      A. "No." [abbrev]

      But it was so hard picking just ten questions! Plus, Dean was really busy !
      • by also-rr (980579) on Friday October 27, 2006 @06:34PM (#16616552) Homepage
        No, the problem lies with the editor picking crappy questions, or not fixing questions that could have been better.

        Well question 1 (could IE run on other browsers) was mine. I deliberatly asked it that way because it wasn't hostile but neatly brought up all the points about Microsoft (Application div) being constrained by Microsoft (Operating System Monopoly div).

        There could have been a whole host of interesting answers - no for technical reasons, no for legal reasons, no for idelogical reasons. Instead we got a crappy answer from a manager not a human :(
  • Browser choice (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chris Pimlott (16212) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:33PM (#16611478)
    The funny thing about your question is that in some ways, users are about two clicks from this scenario every time they run Windows XP: from the Start menu, select Set Program Access and Defaults. And it's not limited to the browsers you list, but any browser that they can download.

    Ah, but how are you supposed to download another browser on a clean install? By opening Internet Explorer. And by that time, for most users, the choice has already been made.
  • "Dean Hachamovitch:

    OK, I'll pretend. My first question is when we ask users this question... if it's in 1995, then Opera isn't on the list (Wikipedia just told me that its first public release was in 1996) and neither is Firefox. If it's today, then, candidly, we have 10+ years of people seeing the IE icon and all that that means to them. "

    Ok, and why is it that those people have 10+ years of seeing the IE icon? Oh yeah, I remember, because you COULDNT REMOVE IT.
  • by The_Dude (26374) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:34PM (#16611486)
    If we're going to pretend that we're back in time before IE has ever been integrated into Windows than the choice would presumably be between Internet Explorer and Netscape. At that time Netscape was all over the news with one of the biggest IPOs ever. Netscape and web browser were virtually synonymous. How many people would really have chosen IE 2.0 over Netscape 1.2 or 2.0?
  • If you had more time, is there a new feature you would have liked to include in IE7?

    Dean Hachamovitch:

    Yes, several come to mind. None were more important than shipping. None were more important than the bug fix work we did in response to beta feedback.

    The temptation to get "just one more feature in" is so strong... one more CSS fix, one more neat facility for developers, one more performance optimization, one more cool end-user feature. The thing that made it easier to resist the temptation and ship

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:47PM (#16611716)
      He's saying that they had a schedule to meet, and the features that made the cut were all they could get done reliably by the ship date given their (the ie team's, not Microsoft's) resources. Certainly, Microsoft could have put every developer in the company working on IE, and given herculean management attempts, maybe even shipped a perfect browser. But that's not particularly feasible.
    • by compupc1 (138208)
      I think it's probably that once the decision was made to do a major updgrade, they had finite time to finish before it needed to be shipped. Since IE7 will be built into Vista (instead of IE6), IE7 obviously has to be done before Vista. And a whole litany of other components in Windows, Office, etc. that depend on the IE rendering engine. If I were a projct manager for something like IE7, where tons of other things depended on it being done (and done PROPERLY), I too would opt to limit the number of new
  • by hoy74 (1005419) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:36PM (#16611506)
    ...the throught process that went into sending the FireFox team a cake when they released 2.0?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:36PM (#16611508)
    At least the guy has a sense of humor:

    Windows customers expect the best, safest experience with their PCs out of the box, especially around the web browser.


    Hilarious!

  • At last (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Udo Schmitz (738216) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:38PM (#16611550) Journal
    So MS officially acknowledges that they shun standards on purpose:

    During IE7's development, we prioritized the work we did based on the web development community's real-world feedback. The engineering exercise here was choosing the best work for a finite number of developers to do during a finite period of time, especially given the compatibility impact of changing how IE behaves.

    They created their own www and say so. Their goal is to make sure all the websites that are made for IE will look good. Standards be damned. Not that we didn't know that, but nice to here from an official source.
    • That's an odd comment.

      By your logic, Mozilla shuns standards as well, since they haven't made shipping a 100% standards compliant browser a priority. Oh, and Opera too.
    • by sane? (179855)
      Its a nonsensical statement. Which web developer is going to prioritise tabs or RSS over proper CSS support? Real world developers want to wring Microsoft's neck over the stupid games they have to play to get their browser to work properly. About the only thing that makes sense is they didn't want to put the effort it would take into fixing their buggy CSS implementation, since that wouldn't put any new wizzy bits on screen.
  • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:39PM (#16611566) Homepage
    "The temptation to get "just one more feature in" is so strong... one more CSS fix..." Let's congratulate MS on resisting this overpowering desire so successfully for so long.
  • Hey, I've met a bunch of the Firefox folks and respect them and am not about to say mean things about them or their product, period. I have started to see some things that even some Slashdotters find a little confusing, like the whole Iceweasel thing.

    Nice. Nothing "mean" to say about FF but who at MS could resist taking a little pop shot at Free Software?
    • He is awesome at side-stepping questions.

      Shouldn't he be in marketing or something rather than leading a development team?
    • He wasn't talking about Firefox, he was talking about the Slashdotters [that] find [it] a little confusing...

      (which is valid... have you read some of the threads here? [slashdot.org]
    • I think that I am going to recompile Firefox tonight, replace all Firefox references and icons with that of Internet Explorer and release it branded as Microsoft Internet Explorer since MS doesn't feel all that strongly about trademarks ... that certainly satisfies MozCorp's branding policy. ;]
  • RSS, huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tb3 (313150) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:40PM (#16611590) Homepage
    Can someone tell me what's so special about RSS in IE7? (I don't run Windows so I can't try it for myself). I clicked on the RSS links he provided and Safari brought them up just fine. I'm presuming I could book-mark them and Safari would notify me when they're updated, too. So what's IE7 doing that is different/clever?
  • by arun_s (877518)

    The question here isn't whether we want to support those features or if we understand that web developers want them (we do), but simply prioritization. We focused on web developers' real world problems.

    Real world problems my @$$. I know hardly anything about web development, but just for the heck of it, I did a one page implementation of an xhtml/css webpage* a month back. Even that didn't show up well in IE. I kinda realised then what kinda problems you poor web developers go through.

    *I used a png file

    • He's talking about IE7 development, and you're talking about IE6. How can you possibly think your comments even mean anything in that context?

      By the way, PNG support isn't tested by any validator, so i'm not sure how claiming it passed validation makes your comments about PNG relevant.
    • by Shados (741919)
      Remember, from Microsoft's point of view, real world problems are problems that start when you're a multi million dollar corporation doing complex software integration. One of the places that a lot of people working in that environment ends up, is needing a rendering engine to...render stuff. For a lot of reasons, IE's engine is used a lot, in a LOT of places that have -jack shit- to do with the web. Good reasons too. And this "problem" is one that quickly becomes hell if you change IE too much.

      Being one
  • Hey I use Forefox as well as the next Slashdotter, however, I am a creature of habit - smart businesses know this. At work (which I'm there at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week) I have no option but to use the default browser, which is Internet Explorer. I use Firefox at home, but to be completely honest, if I need to actually get some work done, I switch to IE if it's a trusted site and I need to do browser work. If I go porn surfing, then I switch to Firefox with NoScript, Adblock and SiteAdvisor. It
  • wtf? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stinky wizzleteats (552063) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:42PM (#16611616) Homepage Journal
    (excpert from question)
    IE7 requires WGA to run - so that applications like Wine are unable to run it.

    (excerpt from answer)
    I think the core of your question is about giving away Windows licenses for free.

    What? Who is asking for Windows licenses? That has nothing at all to do with the question.
    • Apparently, he thinks that Wine is a pirated version of Windows.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I have reread that question and answer five times. I still fail to see the relation between the two.
    • by bmajik (96670)
      Doesn't wine attempt to run arbitrary windows apps without a windows license?

      IE is a windows component. I beleive that running the windows version of IE without a valid license for windows is a violation of the IE license.

      Besides, running IE7 under wine is not a valid test environment anyway. Suppose that something doesn't render right in IE7 on Wine? Is it a site problem, a Wine problem, an IE7 on wine problem, or what? You're testing that your site looks great to the 5 people out there that run IE7 on
    • While I don't necessarily agree, Microsoft's position seems to be that IE is only licensed for use on Windows, and if they were going to allow Wine to work, then Microsoft would effectively have to give you a free license for Windows to use it. By that logic, you need to own a copy of Windows to use IE, and Wine allows you to use IE without owning a copy.
    • Re:wtf? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 27, 2006 @05:46PM (#16616034)
      Yes, he seemed to completely miss the point with most of the questions.

      1. IE on other systems again? It made sense then, but doesn't now. (Why?)
      2. Why did IE7 take so long? We were busy. (OK.)
      3. Is there another feature you would have liked? Yes. (Which?)
      4. What's unique to IE7? Anti-phishing, tabs, RSS, ... (Weren't those copies, too?)
      5. What's the greatest weakness of Firefox? I'm not going to say mean things. (You can't criticize without being mean?)
      6. Why are security bugs from IE5 still around in IE7? Security is hard. (It does seem to be really hard for you guys.)
      7. What if you, hypothetically, offered a choice of browsers? I don't know / in XP it's 2 clicks. (No, it's not, unless your XP has hypothetical features, too.)
      8. Why is IE7 tied down to only run on Vista on raw hardware, making it unavailable to Linux/Mac web developers? We're not going to give away Vista. (That's not at all what he asked.)
      9. Why is your CSS still so bad? We have only finite resources! (Though we're still the biggest software company in the world, by a fair margin -- please ignore that upstart Apple who is shipping an ACID2-passing browser.)
      10. Why does IE have to exist? It's part of the Windows platform. (OK.)

      I guess this points out the difference between ask-slashdot and a real interview: in a real interview, if somebody tried to weasel out of a question, you could ask a more pointed question. With ask-slashdot, if they don't like a question, they can just put down a bunch of words that don't answer the question and move on. (Kind of makes me wonder if that's how they write code, too. "I don't like coding security, so here's another annoying dialog box instead...")
  • Tabbed browsing? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Poromenos1 (830658) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:43PM (#16611636) Homepage
    Hmm, what? The Wikipedia page says that Opera had tabbed browsing AT LEAST a year before the browser he talks about, and that others also had tabbed browsing a year before Opera independently developed it. So, wtf?
    • Re:Tabbed browsing? (Score:4, Informative)

      by uhlume (597871) on Friday October 27, 2006 @03:04PM (#16613394) Homepage
      I'm afraid your reading comprehension is a little weak -- the wiki page doesn't say what you claim it does.

      Yes, Opera released an MDI-based browser in 1996, a year before NetCaptor released the first tabbed MDI (or 'TDI') browser. MDI doesn't mean 'tabbed interface'. TDIs are a particular implementation/representation of the Multiple Document Interface (or MDI) paradigm: all TDIs are MDIs, but not all MDIs are TDIs.
  • Lil Vague (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bdigit (132070) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:43PM (#16611648)
    "We did make versions of IE available on other operating system for a pretty long time, up through IE5 on Unix and the Mac. At the time we developed them, those offerings made sense. I don't see a good reason to make IE available on other operating systems at this time. "

    Why did they make sense then and not now?
    • by compupc1 (138208)
      Because the type of people who are going to use Linux as their desktop OS aren't exactly the type of people who are going to use IE as their major browser, even if only because it's a Microsoft product. I think IE7 for Windows is a MAJOR improvement, although still not Firefox or Opera quality. But even if a future IE8 were to surpass Firefox and be a better browser, how likely do you think it is that a Linux user would use it? I thought so.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Angostura (703910)
      Because at the time Netscape really did look as if it was going to turn the browser into something akin to an alternative OS that might chip away at MS's desktop monopoly. That threat no longer exists.
  • itsatrap
  • Excuses, excuses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Keith Russell (4440) * <keith.russell@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:45PM (#16611672) Journal
    Just as we did in IE7, we're going to listen to the web development community and prioritize the remaining CSS work and deliver the parts we hear are most important first. We do intend to comply with the standard; no other browser I'm aware of has complete support of every feature in CSS 2.1, so it's clear that we all have to use prioritization to know where best to place our resources.

    How about this: Instead of using corner cases in Gecko and Opera as excuses, why don't you complete the implementation of major features of CSS 2? When an entire chapter (*cough*TABLE LAYOUT*cough*) of the Salmon Book has to be excluded to remain compatible your browser, your browser is broken.

  • by truthsearch (249536) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:46PM (#16611692) Homepage Journal
    Whenever he's asked "why?" he always avoids one of the primary answers: management. He basically gets defensive and explains what they did do. But he never states how management changed priorities for them. Or if management told them not to add some feature. To me his answers are incomplete. Because there is no way they come up with all these features yet wait years to work on them without management's intervention.

    So just say it. Things weren't delayed because you were too busy working on other things. Features and bug fixes were delayed because you were told to work on other things.

    Blame your management. We all know they're a big part of the problem.
    • by dhach (1019114) on Friday October 27, 2006 @05:56PM (#16616144)
      Who is this "management" of which you speak? Guess what -- I'm responsible. "Management" never set my priorities. I did. I tell the people I work for "Hey, here's what I think the goals are and how I'm spending the people and time I think we have. Here's what I'd do with additional people and additional time, and I do/don't think that's worth it." Stuff like "do this feature" or "don't do that feature" is partially with me but typically happens even more deeply on team. Go back and watch Bill's talk from MiX06 last spring and what he says about IE. I think that might be what you're looking for.
      • by mitchskin (226035) <mitchskin@gmai l . c om> on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:42PM (#16618506)

        People above you in the hierarchy are the ones who decide what resources you get, no? You've said that resource constraints are the reason you didn't implement all of the CSS fixes you would have liked.

        When people at Microsoft (of all places) complain about being resource constrained, then it's clear that someone in the hierarchy doesn't consider what they're doing to be terribly important.

  • by rs232 (849320) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:47PM (#16611710)
    ".. integrated real-time anti-phishing functionality .. RSS .. Simple List Extensions .. "QuickTabs,".. OpenSearch, .. shrink-to-fit printing .."

    I do recall hearing of RSS previously. Of these, which have been copied by the Firefox team and what are they called. Were such feetures around in similar form before IE7 or does the Firefox team posess a time machine. I do recall hearing of RSS previously.

    "In Windows Vista with Protected Mode, IE7 is the first browser to "put itself into a sandbox" and run with low privileges."

    It may be the first browser in Windows land but Browsers have been running in protected mode on Linux for years.

    "during the IE7 beta process, you've seen other browser vendors copy some of these features"

    Like who and when specifically? In the same interview he mentions an address bar spoof, so I guess the real-time anti-phishing functionality is still a little buggy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by compupc1 (138208)
      RSS is not new, but my understanding is that the way in which RSS was exposed as a part of IE7 is unique, if not original. Basically the idea was to make browsing RSS feeds transparent in IE7, in that they're rendered as a webpage instead of relying on a separate, dedicated application. Does anyone know if other browsers do this as well?
    • by ThinkFr33ly (902481) on Friday October 27, 2006 @02:14PM (#16612262)
      It may be the first browser in Windows land but Browsers have been running in protected mode on Linux for years.


      No, they haven't. There is a big difference between running a browser with fewer privileges and IE7 on Vista's "Protected Mode".

      This has been explained here in the forums on Slashdot countless times, not to mention the fact that 10 minutes of research [msdn.com] would make the differences clear.

      Protected Mode IE uses what they call a "service broker" while simultaneously running IE as a user with virtually no rights. Protected Mode IE doesn't even have the right to save a file to the user's desktop. The service broker handles all actions that would normally require those higher privileges. If IE needs to save a file to the user's desktop it "asks" the service broker to ask the user if that's OK. If the user says it's OK it then accepts a stream of data from IE and performs the file save operation itself. Since the service broker runs with the privileges of the currently logged in user, it is able to complete the requested operation.

      The principle here is that while IE is hundreds of thousands of lines of code, the service broker is perhaps 5000. This means that it is MUCH easier to audit the service broker for security issues than it is to do the same for the entire IE code base.

      But please, find me an example of any other browser on any platform that does this.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sootman (158191)
        I suppose it's not so much "Browsers have been running in protected mode on Linux for years" as much as it is "Browsers in Linux have never had deep hooks into the OS in the first place." Better?
  • Good Joke (Score:5, Funny)

    by 31415926535897 (702314) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:48PM (#16611746) Journal
    Windows customers expect the best, safest experience with their PCs out of the box...

    HA HA HA HA HA HA ...
    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha ....
    hahahaha ... phew

    Oh...that was a good one.

    I guess it depends on how you use 'expect' here, but everyone I know expects Windows to crash and become infected with spyware after enough time.

  • "In regards to tabs, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabbed_browsing [wikipedia.org], NetCaptor (an IE-based browser) was first."

    From the Wikipedia article:

    "BookLink Technologies pioneered this interface design in its InternetWorks browser in 1994. Independently, the founders of Opera built an MDI-based browser in the same year (via a technical preview not available publicly; a public release was made in 1996). The tabbed interface approach was then followed by the Internet Explorer shell NetCaptor in 1997."

    So the guys that did Opera did the tabbed thing first; they released the Opera browser later. The public release of the tabbed browser was still done months before the IE shell modification.
    • by Bryansix (761547)
      He doesn't know about the "Cite Article" link or he could have told us what version he was viewing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by uhlume (597871)
      As I pointed out in another comment above, MDI != TDI. (Safari with tabs disabled is a good example of an MDI browser.)

      Your quoting strategy seems somewhat over-selective. Scan down another line, and you'll see this:

      "These pioneers were followed by a number of others like IBrowse in 1999, Opera in 2000 (with the release of version 4), Mozilla in 2001 (through the MultiZilla extension in April of 2001 and a built-in tabbed browsing mode added to Mozilla 0.9.5 in October of 2001), Konqueror 3.1 in January 200

  • 1995 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rob Kaper (5960) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:51PM (#16611784) Homepage
    OK, I'll pretend. My first question is when we ask users this question... if it's in 1995, then Opera isn't on the list (Wikipedia just told me that its first public release was in 1996) and neither is Firefox.


    And what about Netscape?
    • Yeah, he talks as if IE was the world's first web browser. If he believes that he should read IE's own about box.
  • Windows customers expect the best, safest experience with their PCs out of the box, especially around the web browser.
    *sputter* I'll admit up front I'm somewhat of an MS-basher at times, but come on! Is Windows' reputation for lack of safety, really subjective or disputed? Hachamovitch's statement has to be tongue-in-cheek.
  • Did anyone else notice that he did not address the main point of question 8 being that IE renders web pages differently then most everything else out there and that it does not adhear to the standards?
  • Let's pretend for a moment that Internet Explorer isn't the default web-browser built into Windows and instead, users are presented with a choice on first login (e.g. a message asking 'How would you like to browse the internet? MSIE, Firefox, Opera').

    OK, I'll pretend. My first question is when we ask users this question... if it's in 1995, then Opera isn't on the list...and neither is Firefox.


    Skipping the obligatory 'Well, if it's 95, Netscape is a choice' comment that's been mentioned, how can someone acti
  • A bit soft... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ajehals (947354) <a.halsall@pirateparty.org.uk> on Friday October 27, 2006 @02:04PM (#16612044) Homepage Journal
    Just as a general comment, It seems that some of the answers, particularly to the following;

    * If you had more time, is there a new feature you would have liked to include in IE7?

    * ...But where are the IE innovations? Why can't the IE team get ahead of the curve on Firefox? ...

    * Let's pretend for a moment that Internet Explorer isn't the default web-browser built into Windows and instead, users are presented with a choice on first login

    * IE7, like IE6, renders a lot of pages significantly differently than the other main HTML rendering engines available

    Seem either very vague or appear to be dodging the question (or the very obvious intent) that is being asked. Moreover I think that the questions were actually quite a good selection, and not too aggressive (nor too fluffy). I would like to know how much input or oversight Microsofts marketing / other departments had in the answers.

    I've been looking at (and commenting on) some of the Microsoft related blogs that are out there, such as MSTechToday [mstechtoday.com] and I am intrigued at how defensive Microsoft advocates are (I know that Mac, GNU/Linux and BSD advocates are fairly Zealous too...), but they appear defensive even when they don't need to be. Love it or loath it, Microsoft software is now in general, stable, usable and allows you to be productive, and Microsoft are focusing on security too.
    Things like the "get the facts" campaign against GNU/Linux appear to be no better than negative political ads (Oh and check how many of the companies featured pointing out why OSS isn't an option for them in production are using OSS web servers, Firewalls and other technologies).

    The one thing that stands out is that whilst the GNU/Linux groups are very keen to point out how great and how secure and stable the OS is, they don't tend to have to justify the direction they are going, even to pro-Microsoft posters. The Microsoft advocates on the other hand seem to have to point out that everything is being done to address a customer need that they have identified, and that anyone claiming a feature in the OS, or one being introduced into the OS may not benefit windows users (or in the case of DRM and Driver signing) may damage interests is working against some sort of ideal.

    I guess the answer to that is that people use MS software because it fills a need of some sort, or because in a given situation there is no alternative (or because they are locked in to it for a given cycle), whilst GNU/Linux, BSD and Mac users use their respective products because they think that they are the best solution out there, and because they feel that the organisation / group also have a philosophy that they can either agree with or actively support.

    I guess what I am saying rather badly is that those people making the software that is and runs on Mac OS, GNU/Linux, BSD etc.. stand for something, whilst Microsoft doesn't seem to anymore (and the whole Microsoft is evil and stand for evil doesn't count as its fairly invalid and is voiced by people who detest MS not its user base - although I guess there may be a certain attraction to some people :) ).

    Just a thought, In modern markets is a philosophy that you aspire to something that adds something to your product? Google seem to think so, Banks seem to be keen to promote their reputations and ideals, even auto manufacturers try.

    Anyway, thanks

    I should declare that I use GNU/Linux and Solaris rather than MS products these days; but was quite fond of Active Directory and 2000 server, before any of the above is seen as either entireley pro or anti Microsoft

  • Concise translation (Score:5, Informative)

    by pilkul (667659) on Friday October 27, 2006 @02:18PM (#16612334)
    1) Would you like to make available IE on other operating systems?

    Nope, and there are reasons, but I'm not telling you what they are.

    2) Why did IE7 take such a long time to release after IE6?

    The entire IE team was busy with much more important things, like the MSN Toolbar, and specialized changes for individual customers with deep pockets.

    3) If you had more time, is there a new feature you would have liked to include in IE7?

    None. We just wanted to ship in time.

    4) Is there anything you consider an innovation that is unique to IE

    A better phishing filter, RSS, Expose-like tab view, and a better security model.

    5) What do you consider the greatest weakness of Firefox?

    I wrote a cheap insult about Iceweasel, but then decided to just shut up and not say anything, but apparently my text editor bugged up or something and didn't erase the insult.

    6) What approach did you take to improve browser's security, and how come the vulnerabilities have been carried over?

    All the usual methods. It's hard work though, since all those attackers innovate so much -- it's an industry-wide problem, not just with us! -- and people keep irresponsibly making vulnerabilities public.

    7) Would you expect IE to become as dominant as it is now if users had to specifically choose it over another?

    Customers love IE so much after 10 years of using it that I'm sure it would.

    8) IE7 requires WGA to run - so that applications like Wine are unable to run it. This means that web developers who are using Linux and Mac OS X will have an extremely difficult time testing their sites with IE7.

    I will completely ignore your mention of WGA, treating it as self-evident that IE should require this. Therefore, it is impossible to address your concern because we won't give away Windows licenses.

    9) Why is it that MS has avoided meeting at least the ACID2 spec for CSS in order to bring some semblance of comformity for developers?

    We don't care about standards. We care about the real world!

    10) why is Microsoft investing so much time and effort in continuing the development of IE?

    The security holes and lack of features in IE were starting to reflect badly on our claims of having the most secure and innovative products.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Allador (537449)
      "1) Would you like to make available IE on other operating systems?

      Nope, and there are reasons, but I'm not telling you what they are."

      I thought he was quite clear about this, and I dont even think you have to ask. They dont make IE available on other systems because that provides no competitive advantage to their business.

      "9) Why is it that MS has avoided meeting at least the ACID2 spec for CSS in order to bring some semblance of comformity for developers?

      We don't care about standards. We care about the r
  • by dpaton.net (199423) on Friday October 27, 2006 @02:19PM (#16612350) Homepage Journal
    I think the core of your question is about giving away Windows licenses for free. We love developers, period. We're also not about to give away Windows client licenses.

    I beg to differ. I think it's about tying IE so close to the OS (with WGA and limited version support) as to require someone to buy the latest version of Windows and a machine to run it on in order to continue to support Microsoft's broken browser. I'm sorry, but this is a bad answer. THe profit and market share motives were completely ignored, and shouldn't be.

    If Microsoft was really concerned about the browsing experience, they'd bend over backwards to attain parity with the other browsers on the market WRT standards support. Acid2 is a nice test suite to show it. As a part time developer, I can say with certainty that the stuff they've fixed is nice, but it still doesn't come close to what's required for true partiy, and by that I mean the ability of a developer (me) to write a single document for the web that's rendered the same way by the 3 browsers I see in the top of my logs (IE, Firefox and Safari).

    When they get there, I'll start listening. Until then...I trust IE as far as I can throw it's program manager.
  • by Quila (201335) on Friday October 27, 2006 @02:21PM (#16612398)
    The temptation to get "just one more feature in" is so strong... one more CSS fix

    So fixing CSS bugs is a feature? They threw in lots of features, like tabbed browsing, yet they consider actual bugs to be extra features that will have to wait.
  • Question 8 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by segfault_0 (181690) on Friday October 27, 2006 @02:22PM (#16612418)
    Did he really expect the slashdot crowd to accept that allowing IE7 to run in Wine is the equivilent of giving away a window client license? I would have respected him so much more if he just said "we are required to develop with our in-house libraries and we have no interest in users of other operating systems using our products". Someone should enlighten him to the fact that most of the developers in question can easily afford Windows but choose not to run it, and wanting to have IE for testing purposes is a long way from being miscontrued as an attempt to illicitly acquire a windows client license. This comment is dishonest at best.
  • by wwahammy (765566) on Friday October 27, 2006 @02:36PM (#16612664)
    I really didn't have a problem with any of his answers EXCEPT his answer on how best to test web sites on different versions of IE on other OS's.

    Hey Dean, no one was asking you give away a Windows license. We were asking you to give developers a better way to test against past, present and future browser versions and you responded by acting like we wanted to get Windows for free. Don't you have a clue about the real world for web developers?

    I have a legally owned XP Pro license. I run IE 7 on my computer to test that but I can't also test IE 6. So I install another copy on a VMWare virtual machine. That is a total headache for just wanting to test a web site.

    MS owns Virtual PC. You already make a stripped down version of Windows (Windows Starter). Why can't you make self running virtual pc images basically of IE images? Prevent anything except IE from running on the virtual machine and take out anything not essential to testing a web site. This could be used in Linux or on a Mac.

    But hey, make it hell for us Dean. We really appreciate that.
    • by dhach (1019114) on Friday October 27, 2006 @06:04PM (#16616248)
      Sorry I misunderstood the question. I promise a blog post on blogs.msdn.com/ie about this in the next week or so. I think there are some things we can do to make this better.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wwahammy (765566)
        Dean, I look forward to seeing that blog post and thanks for at least listening. In the past sometimes it seemed like not too many people in Redmond were listening.

        But honestly, the situation with testing numerous browsers is a real headache. XP can't even run IE5 and while its a small portion of the audience and getting smaller its still there and we know IE6 will be there for a long time even with Automatic Updates. I really feel for the guys on Linux or Mac who have absolutely no way of testing site
  • Whatever (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EtherAlchemist (789180) on Friday October 27, 2006 @03:19PM (#16613684)

    Exactly the bullshit answers I expected. Especially on the question of CSS support. News flash: IE's whacked CSS support IS a REAL WORLD PROBLEM FOR DEVELOPERS.
  • by codered82 (892990) <shaun@skfox.com> on Friday October 27, 2006 @03:37PM (#16614036) Homepage
    The question here isn't whether we want to support those features or if we understand that web developers want them (we do), but simply prioritization. We focused on web developers' real world problems.
    Huh....Real world problems you say? I think that I have to write CSS for several browsers a real world problem. Makes me wonder what world he lives in. Those responses sound like nails on a chalkboard to me.
  • Spin (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MilenCent (219397) <johnwh@ g m ail.com> on Friday October 27, 2006 @05:38PM (#16615900) Homepage
    There is a great deal of spin in these answers.

    1. (Would you want to make IE for non-Windows systems)
    We did make versions of IE available on other operating system for a pretty long time, up through IE5 on Unix and the Mac. At the time we developed them, those offerings made sense. I don't see a good reason to make IE available on other operating systems at this time.

    Then it made sense. Now, it does not make sense. I don't see a good reason to make our work on IE7 available to Mac and Linux users. They are not worth it.

    2. (Why so long since IE6?)
    Basically because we were doing a lot of other things before we started work on IE7: a few releases of MSN Explorer, a lot of work on what turned out to be Windows Presentation Foundation, a lot of investment in what turned into IPv6 support in Windows Vista, and lot of security response, a pretty intense effort on Windows Server 2003 (and IE's "Enhanced Security Configuration"), and then a pretty intense effort on Windows XPSP2.

    We've done all these other things! Instead of hiring other people to do those things, my company chose to reassign the IE people to those projects. For some reason, I dunno, I think I remember them saying "strategy" or something. No more important enemies there to drive before us, no more women there to hear lament.

    3. (Fluffy question.)
    Fluffy answer.

    4. (How does IE beat Firefox?)
    I think IE7 is the first browser with integrated real-time anti-phishing functionality, with an RSS platform and support for Simple List Extensions (see below), with "QuickTabs," with support for OpenSearch, and with shrink-to-fit printing on by default. In Windows Vista with Protected Mode, IE7 is the first browser to "put itself into a sandbox" and run with low privileges.

    Buzzword! Buzzword buzzword? BUZZWORD!
    Buzzword uses Snowjob! It's super-effective!

    Firefox has anti-phishing (groan) technology when used with Google Toolbar. IE had it with Google Toolbar long bfore IE7. But, although there are multiple Firefox extensions that do phishing checks [mozilla.org], IE does have it built-in first. Of course, I'm super-cautious about sites I enter my financial information into, so I might say that my browser doesn't need phishing protection bloating it up and sending in all my URLs to some mothership....

    Well, let's be fair, IE *does* say that their protection respects user privacy. Although I don't have the details of their protection, that could be some good they've brought into the world. But it still seems, to me, to be more of something for a plug-in to do.

    RSS, Firefox has had it for a long while, even before Live Bookmarks. QuickTabs seems to be just a CamelCase rename for a Firefox feature. Oh sure, there may be something to differentiate Firefox's tabs, but it doesn't seem to have been important to generate any outside excitement other than "OMG IE's got TABS!" And Firefox 2.0, according to Wikipedia's article on OpenSearch [wikipedia.org] (as of 10/27/2006 4:31EST), does have OpenSearch -- if IE7 had it first, it was by a matter of days, and without counting the RCs as releases.

    For him to crow that IE7 is the first browser to put itself into a low privilege sandbox is ludicrous. Before Internet Explorer came along a web browser was just a damn process like any other! A user --well one on a more sensible operating system that Windows at the time-- could very well run it with whatever privileges he chose! Microsoft doesn't get to congratulate themselves for solving a problem they created, dammit!

    I think that during the IE7 beta process, you've seen other browser vendors copy some of these features and/or deliver add-ons for others. (IE has also delivered some functionality - like spell-checking in forms or in-line find, as add-ons; you can read more here.

    I'

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