I recently had the pleasure of talking to Opera's Chief Technology Officer Håkon Wium Lie. We spoke about Microsoft's latest web browser IE7 and Håkon was harshly critical of it, as well as Microsoft's past history with CSS and web standards. Bear in mind that Opera competes with IE and also that Håkon has a distinguished career in CSS, dating back to his days in the W3C. I've posted the discussion onto ZDNet, but here's a summary...

Håkon told me that Microsoft is "doing a paint job on their Pinto", referring to Microsoft's renewed development and bug-fixing efforts in IE7. The Ford Pinto is a car from the 70's that has become a symbol for a 'cheap economy car' or 'cheapness'. It also has a reputation for being unsafe! Which tells you all you need to know about what Håkon thinks of IE.

Håkon's reaction to my interview with Microsoft's Chris Wilson, Group Program Manager for IE, was also scathing. Chris' position was that IE7 will increasingly support CSS standards over time. Håkon acknowledges Microsoft's current efforts in fixing bugs, but his real beef with IE7 is that it's not adding many features:

"The new functionality that they've put in, which was specified [in CSS] in the 90's, is still not there. We can't do generated content, for example. We can't do CSS tables. We can't do counters. And these are features that other browsers put in years ago."

He also doesn't think "the underlying machinery" of IE is worth all the effort. In particular their formatting engine "isn't up to speed", according to him.

There are more details of my discussion with Håkon in my ZDNet blog.

Also on the flip side, check out my review and accompanying Image Gallery of the latest version of IE7 - Release Candidate 1. I concluded that IE7, with its focus on security and fixing rendering issues, is "a safe and sound browser, with solid if unspectacular features". My guess is that Håkon disagrees with that assessment! And I have to add that Opera has a fantastic set of features, which I will be exploring soon.

What do you think about IE7? Is it a good enough browser for Mom and Pop? Or is it a Ford Pinto?

Pinto pic