On supporting IE 7 in (Sun's) Java
In last weeks javalobby newsletter, Rick Ross openly asked about whether Sun would be supporting IE7 in Java. If you think about it that's kind of a silly question, because of course we will (eventually). IE in general has such huge market penetration that we'd be fools not to. I wanted to be able to post a positive answer, saying "Yes, everybody, it's in the plan" and set out to find out what our plans are.
Note .. I said "eventually". Therein lies the rub, as I'm sure Rick meant to wonder whether it would be supported in Mustang.
Unfortunately we are not in a position to make any commitments. If you think about it, there's a simple reason. Timing. IE7 just entered a limited beta release. Yes, we have engineers looking at it now. But what is their release schedule? Does it match up with Mustang's release schedule? What changes will we need to make to Mustang to support IE7? And do we have time in Mustang's schedule to do so?
To explain what I'm meaning, let me give a little rundown on how release scheduling works.
Sun has defined several phases to product development cycles, and no doubt Microsoft has a similar set of phases with similar names. We have milestones marking transition from one phase to another, such as the "feature freeze" date marking the transition from active development of new features to the bug fixing phase. The bug fixing phase is meant to find/fix as many of the bugs introduced by the new features as we can, as well as fix outstanding bugs from previous releases. New feature development isn't allowed, generally, after that point because it's well known that adding new features also adds new bugs. This is all standard software engineering practice, so it shouldn't be too unfamiliar.
It's too early to make any commitments over whether we will support IE7 with Mustang. For example, if IE7 is finalized late in Mustang's schedule then the rules under which the Java SE team conducts the release schedule wouldn't allow us to add IE7 support. There may be too much work to support IE7 to fit into Mustang's schedule. ...etc...
Basically, there are too many unknowns, today, to answer Rick Ross's question.