Microsoft announced the first stage of their beta testing for Internet Explorer 7 today – which is a closed beta, intended for developers. How did I get it? There’s this wonderful thing called BitTorrent – you might have heard of it.

Anyway, things didn’t start out so good for my testing experience. I didn’t listen to Microsoft when they told me to close all my applications I had running because, well… it’s never been a problem before. I usually keep working in Photoshop or Dreamweaver while installing a game in the background. But that’s beside the point – I didn’t listen, and I got burned. I left Firefox open and continued to check my stats and poke around in WordPress while it was installing. The next time I checked my site, it was displaying ‘Sorry, no posts matched your criteria‘ in place of all the posts. I quickly logged into WordPress to check it out – no posts! I then checked my site in IE – fine. Opera – fine. Netscape – fine. So I reinstalled Firefox, no change. I then reverted to the restore point I created just before installing IE 7, reinstalled Firefox again and that did the trick. Hah!

After reading Dave Shea’s post about the CSS updates (or lack there of), I was persuaded to give it another shot as I still had some questions of my own. I will admit, though. After reading Dave’s little preview and revisiting the IE 7 page to run through the features they’re promoting, I wasn’t too optimistic.

Platform enhancements for developers to improve compatibility and manageability, including improved support for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) as well as transparent PNG support.

PNG support – that reminds me… Well, would you look at that! IE 7 indeed can display 24-bit transparent PNGs.

Unfortunately, that was the only thing I found out that actually worked. You still can’t change the text size on pages that use CSS for presentation. :hover doesn’t work for any element other than a. And my footer is still completely M.I.A..

A couple weeks ago I styled my feed using php and css. Looks awesome in any browser other than IE. Yet another thing IE 7 doesn’t support. But they have implemented a nice feed display that shouldn’t scare novice users off like viewing a raw XML document would.

There’s one thing I just can’t wrap my head around – and that’s their decision to move the address bar and navigation buttons to the top of the window. They even added a search bar identical to Firefox, right beside the address bar. Chances are, users are going to spend a lot of time using all of the above, and now they’re the furthest thing from your cursor. I just don’t get it. Every time I use an MS app, I’m further convinced that their developers don’t ever use the products they build.

In closing, I do realize this is the first beta and it’s still a ways away from being released to the public. I really hope they make some improvements other than increased security. My fingers are crossed, but I’m definitely not holding my breath.

Update: Thursday, August 4 2005
One of the IE developers has posted on the IE Blog addressing the lack of CSS and standards improvements in the first beta of IE 7. He even names some of the known issues they’re planning to fix before the full release. This is good news!