Microsoft has announced that the upgrade to Internet Explorer 7 will be “high priority” in Windows Update, essentially forcing the upgrade on XP users everywhere (news.com). Microsoft has released a toolkit to disable automatic delivery of the browser upgrade, however this is a pro-active path; if a user does nothing, they are going to get the new version. My poor grandma (Usability: What Would Grandma Do?), who has no idea about any of this, is getting the upgrade. If you have Windows XP, and you have an internet connection, you pretty much are destined for this upgrade.
Now, I don’t think that is entirely a bad thing. Far too many people just blindly use this paperweight we call a computer. They don’t read manuals, they don’t educate themselves on this thing, they just start pressing buttons. When they get a phishing email about “Your bank account has been compromised. Please send me your account number and password so that I can fix it,” they reply with their credentials. “Click here and win an iPod” and they click. “Check out this email attachment of dancing babies” and they get yet another virus. Because of this we have to monkey-proof computers, and add far too many security checks on systems, and overall make developer-life a little more painful. So, I think this is a good thing. Yeah, I drank the Microsoft kool-aid, but I’m all for this automated upgrade to help make up for the swiss cheese that is Internet Explorer 6. I’m going to continue using Firefox as my browser, anyway, but if this makes my OS a little more secure…good!
But what does this mean to us, the development / testing community? Test now. Test often. In a few short months a few million people will unknowingly get IE7, and at that time we will no longer have any excuse about whether or not our systems work. Our stuff needs to work on IE7-Day. So download the beta, and start testing your web apps to make sure everything still works. Microsoft hasn’t been too browser-compliant in the past, and other than competition from Firefox I don’t see a lot of reason that they would start, so there is good reason to suspect things might break. Start testing now, or you will be scrambling in a few months when your help desk lights up like a Christmas tree.
The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent
my employer's view in any way.