The IE blog is reporting that Microsoft will be releasing an IE 7 this summer. It appears that their plans to use Longhorn as the delivery vehicle for browser upgrades has been reversed.
The only question I have is will they actually improve their rendering capabilities, or will this be a UI hackjob to bring their five year old app up to a contemporary featureset.
Actually, I have one more question. Why are they leaving out over hundreds of millions of users by not offering this to users of Windows pre-XPSP2? (it sure does sound to me like this won't even be available for XP users pre-SP2. do you all read this differently?)
Scoble's posted too. I expect Cnet to have something up today.
And here's the press release.
update: After re-reading, it sounds like this might be a bit further off than I originally thought. If they release a beta in summer, take feedback, release another beta, and take feedback, then I don't see them getting this thing out the door until 2006 at the earliest. Doesn't that line up with their plans for Longhorn ship dates? Or has that slipped out even further?
update2: and Cnet has a story up with the reasonable title of "Reversal: Next IE update divorced from Windows"
Analysts credited Microsoft's change of heart to the progress of the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox browser, which has made incremental but steady market share gains against IE in recent months. In a survey conducted late last year, Firefox nudged IE below the 90 percent mark for the first time since the height of the browser wars in the 1990s.
David makes a great observation in the comments, "This feels very much like a 'hang-in-there' message to all the corporations and orgainizations out there thinking of switching to a Better Browser(tm).... The description of what they are planning on releasing sounds very much like a glorified XP SP3." It does sound a bit like that, doesn't it :)
update 3: Mozillazine has the story up too.