The announcement of IE8 Beta 2 started an important and public phase of the product development cycle getting broad public feedback. The team is providing detailed information and answering questions about the product in many different places. Now’s a good time to talk about what comes next.
Since the release of Beta 2, the team has been absorbed in the data we get from real people about the product. We have combed through instrumentation of over 20 million IE sessions and hundreds of hours of usability lab sessions. Together with IE MVPs, we have scrutinized thousands of threads from user forums and examined the issues that people are raising (not to mention all the times users opt to “Report a Webpage Problem…”). We have also spent hundreds of hours listening and answering questions in meetings with partners and other important organizations. We simply could not deliver IE8 the way our customers and developers want us to without all this information. We also received a lot of feedback about how we transitioned from the IE7 beta releases to the IE7 final release, and as a result, we want to be clear about the plan for IE8.
We will release one more public update of IE8 in the first quarter of 2009, and then follow that up with the final release. Our next public release of IE (typically called a “release candidate”) indicates the end of the beta period. We want the technical community of people and organizations interested in web browsers to take this update as a strong signal that IE8 is effectively complete and done. They should expect the final product to behave as this update does. We want them to test their sites and services with IE8, make any changes they feel are necessary for the best possible customer experience using IE8, and report any critical issues (e.g., issues impacting robustness, security, backwards compatibility, or completeness with respect to planned standards work). Our plan is to deliver the final product after listening for feedback about critical issues.
We will be very selective about what changes we make between the next update and final release. We will act on the most critical issues. We will be super clear about product changes we make between the update and the final release.
The call to action now for the technical community is to download beta 2 (if you haven’t already) and let us know about your experience. Next, please prepare for final testing with public update so you can let us know – quickly, loudly, and clearly – if you find absolutely critical issues with it before the release of the final product.
General Manager, Internet Explorer
P.S. If you’re a developer, or service provider, or IT professional, how do you prepare for the final release of new software? Leave a comment – we’d like to know.