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.

#27 what the market will stand

by Anon

Friday December 3rd, 1999 8:52 PM

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Microsoft has become the "de facto" browser for one of two reasons:

1) IT departments converted from netscape to IE for one reason or another, especially around the time IE was initially offered for free.

2) Users got IE on their computer. For example, I'm using IE right now (Mozilla is too buggy for me); it's not that I like IE, but rather that I'm too lazy to download the much-larger-than-mozilla NS 4.5.

I do believe that keeping Mozilla's size down is an extremely wise idea; IE 5.01 is supposedly 20-some megabytes large--at least!! Mozilla's alpha version pans out to be one quarter of that.

Getting Mozilla into the home market will be an uphill battle; so much damage has already been done by Microsoft's insistence that IE be installed and available on the desktop in OEM computers. But web developers and IT employees in the know will likely be Mozilla's greatest allies, and I think that if employees at corporations use Mozilla at WORK for a while, they'll come to choose Mozilla at HOME.