IE 8 is outstanding compared to IE 7 -- amazing performance! -- and light years ahead of IE 6 -- performance again as well as standards compatibility. However, it still needs to do just a bit more to catch up with Firefox, Safari, and Opera with regards to
IE 8 is a legitimate player once again though, Despite the naysayers, who, to be blunt, have history (browser wars and the abandonment of IE 6) on their side, I have high hopes that IE 9 will achieve CSS 3 and HTML 5 compliance. That is, once those standards
get finalized. Get 'er done, W3C!
There's one nagging question that bothers me. How aggressively will Microsoft encourage users to upgrade from previous versions? If they're wishy-washy about doing that, then IE 8, as great a technical feat as it might be, will be all for naught as users
will continue to use whatever browser they're running. Microsoft likes to focus on their competitors, but, as Vista and its ongoing battle against stalwart XP demonstrated, perhaps we need to focus more on convincing people that IE8 is better than IE7 and
IE6. The biggest blocker to Vista adoption isn't Mac OS X or Linux; it's XP. IE8's most significant competition isn't Firefox; it's IE 6 and IE 7.
Admittedly, it's a nice problem most companies would love to have -- "oh no, I can't get people to upgrade to the latest version of my software, because they like using the old version." It's still a problem though since supporting multiple versions of software
is not cheap or easy and hampers the adoption of new platforms. After all, you cannot run IE 6 or 7 on Windows 7 so you better make sure people want to run IE 8 or else they won't upgrade.
I think one principal change along with the "nice problem" that XP has demonstrated, is that there is no
throwaway society when it comes to software anymore. Windows and Office are relatively stable (and Linux as well) and suit most people’s needs. There was a real
tangible reason to upgrade from windows 3.1 (with the 40 floppies) to Windows 95, then 98, NT and Finally XP. There was an exponential increase in operating system development, from Networking in NT to the Internet and broadband.
I just don't see people as prepared to upgrade to a new computer, the way you would from Windows 98 to XP. It is also silly to discuss this among developers who are highly skilled, because practically everyone I know wants me to fix their computer. Installing
IE 8 on some peoples machines will actually cause me problems, because they would say "you touched my PC and nothing no longer works on it", so automatic upgrades are for those that find computers easy. At this precise moment in time, a significant amount
of people over 30 years old are computationally "semi-literate" and very "software habitual" i.e. they like things as they are, and don't like change. If there is change, it must be gradual, with a lot of support (somehting I have very little time for sadly)
That is the key problem Microsoft has. As an example look at the simply stunning Lawson Mango application. For a typical business, that would involve tens of thousands in training costs
- forget the application, just getting staff to a competant level of usage, also factor in new staff. It is that much of a departure from a File-Edit-Tools type application, which is sad, because I'd do anything to work in that type of application environment.