IE5.5: First Look

Friday December 3rd, 1999

I've done some preliminary CSS testing of IE5.5 (available through Specifically I ran IE 5.5 through the battery of David Baron's CSS tests, and found some interesting results. IE 5.5's CSS support has undergone very little change from 5.0, and some regressions were noticable. IE 5.5 seems to pass test 5.3 (CSS2 Universal Selector) that IE 5.0 did not, but it fails two tests in section 6.4.4 (Parsing Test 4 and Test 5) that IE 5.0 apparently passed. There was one other that *may* have passed (9.1.2) where 5.0 failed, and one test in 10.7 *may* have failed where 5.0 passed, but I can't determine these for a certainty. Finally, IE 5.5 still does not pass the Box Acid Test.

According to MS's "What's New in Internet Explorer 5.5" page, IE 5.5 handles more "CSS styles" such as first-letter and first-line, but they don't go into any more detail.

From these results, I'm wondering if MS is giving up completely on significant advances in the CSS support in their current rendering engine. IE on the Mac is supposedly being developed to utilize a new rendering engine, codename "Tasman". Maybe Microsoft is planning something similar for their 6.0 Windows version.

In any event it does not look like the next version of IE will have significant CSS improvements as many hoped and expected.

#115 Re: MS Bashing is such a waste.....

by rkl

Tuesday December 21st, 1999 6:22 PM

You are replying to this message

I'm replying to this fairly late, so I doubt anyone will read this but,...

I do agree that the Mozilla (and hence Netscape 5.0) delay has moved the pendulum towards Microsoft and arguably hurt the credibiility of the project [yes, I know about the complete rewrite, but an extra year is an eternity in the browser world].

However, to me MSIE 5.X looks pretty well the "same" in terms of user interface and standards (or lack of) adhered to in the browsing engine as the MSIE 4.X series.

You say "as a Web developer, I want the best browser", but this is a closeted view - it doesn't matter how much you prefer one browser over another, you've still got check out your site in any browsers that have >= 5% of market share otherwise you risk alienating a part of your target audience.

Hence, *both* MSIE and Netscape have to fully support the open standards that W3C have been pushing for several years now. Sadly, *both* MSIE 5.X and Netscape 4.X are so poor at obeying standards that Opera 3.60 is actually better than both of them in this respect !

Also, don't forget the holy grail of a cross-platform browser. Microsoft have released MSIE 5.X on PC (a pretty good browser, apart from poor standards compliance I mentioned), Mac (apparently also quite good), Solaris (dismal - a botched Win<->Unix API port that is a pig) and HP-UX (see Solaris).

Let me see, Mozilla has been ported to Windows, MacOS, BeOS, OpenVMS and about a DOZEN flavours of UNIX. MSIE hasn't even ported to Linux yet and is unlikely to in the future because it sees Linux as by far the biggest threat to NT/ Windows 2000.

Yes, Mozilla/Netscape 5.0 has taken too long to come, but when it does come out, it should regain some of its market share. As other people said, AOL need to bundle it with their placemat CD-ROMs to truly get back on an even keel with MSIE - if AOL doesn't do this when their contract with MS expires (2001 ?), then I think we can conclude that AOL wants to bury the Netscape/Mozilla browser...