IE (Internet Explorer), the Next Generation. I know – version 7 has only been available for a month and here we standards guys are, whining about it’s flaws. Let’s face it, though: IE 7, though better than it’s predecessor, is ultimately just a clumsy patch job.

Roger Johansson has written up his big wishes, asking for some pretty wishful thinking options such as “Rewrite or replace the layout engine.” That’s a huge demand, and personally, I won’t be holding my breath. Nonetheless, the fundamental principle is right on: Trident is buggy. Other engines are less buggy.

In general, I’m hesitant what to ask for in IE Next. Do I really want the next version of IE to be the perfect browser? What would the consequences of that kind of performance be for the minority browsers such as Firefox and Opera? I want standards-compliant support for CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) 3, frankly. Will the next version of IE provide this? Probably not. But then, neither will the next version of Firefox, most likely.

It’s a tricky question – on the one hand, Firefox has little motivation to work on implementing these features. All they’d really accomplish would be to allow Firefox geeks to brag that their browser could use CSS 3. Nobody would actually program a website which required them as long as no other browsers use them. If IE 7 had brought support for any significant part of CSS 3, on the other hand, it would have created major pressure for other browser developers to move forward with their own support.

Personally, I’m satisfied for the moment with IE 7’s insufficient improvements. I have hope that, once IE 6 users have shifted over (fingers crossed this will be at least reasonably quick), my development life will become much easier. I also hope that IE 7’s low bar for implementation of usability as well as standards support won’t do anything to slow the continued growth of Firefox as a competitive minority browser. Frankly, I hope that Opera also continues to improve and grow – they have a terrific product, even though I’m personally more comfortable with Firefox.

I guess it’s just a wait and see…