I thought I’d better see what the new version of Internet Explorer did to my site layout, so I loaded up an evaluation version of Windows Server 2003 in a trial version of Parallels Desktop for Mac and installed IE7.
The site looked … ugly. The fix was easy, though.
<!--[if IE 6]> <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" media="screen" href="/style/screen-ie6.css" /> <![endif]-->
<!--[if gte IE 6]> <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" media="screen" href="/style/screen-ie6.css" /> <![endif]-->
gte tells it to use the IE6-specific CSS file
for all versions of IE from 6 up, including 7. In other words, many
of the bugs I had to fix in the previous version are alive and
crawling in this new release. They might have tinkered a little
with the rendering engine, but it doesn’t seem to have improved
much. What a wasted opportunity!
The biggest changes in IE7 seem to be in the interface. They’ve added tabs. (Yeah, Opera might have pioneered those back in 1995 or so, but what’s 11 years between friends?) They’ve also broken as many user interface conventions as they could get their hooves on: there’s no menu bar; instead, there are a lot of odd icons with pop down menus. Oh, wait—there is a menu bar, but it’s hidden by default, and even when you display it (under Tools) it comes out in an odd place. Oh well, who cares whether it actually works any better, as long as it looks visibly different from the last version—right?
The one word review: Meh.
The exercise wasn’t all bad, though: I really enjoyed using Parallels Desktop. It’s fast, effective, and a really well-thought-out piece of software. Little details like OS-specific drivers that automatically changing the screen resolution when switching between full screen and windowed modes make it especially convenient. My only real gripe is that I think the graphical presentation of the application itself is a little unattractive, particularly in the OS selection window and the toolbar icons, but that’s a minor issue.