Microsoft will be doing a lot to make developers and customers happy with its pending Internet Explorer release, if partner sources with inside information on the IE 7.0 browser are right.
But theres one area where Microsoft wont be winning a lot of applause.
The company will continue to drag its feet by refusing to provide full support for the CSS2 (Cascading Style Sheets Level 2) W3C (Worldwide Web Consortium) standard, Microsoft partners say.
Sources claiming familiarity with Microsofts IE 7.0 plans said the company will add some additional CSS2 support to its new standalone browser.
But Microsoft isnt planning to go the whole way and make IE 7.0 fully CSS2 compliant, sources said.
IE 7.0 is expected to go to beta testers this summer.
Microsoft has declined to provide a final ship-date target for the release, which will be designed for machines running Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows XP Professional x64 and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1.
But some sources hear that Microsoft is planning to ship the final IE 7.0 release this fall.
IE developers and users have been clamoring for full CSS2 support for years.
CSS2 is a style-sheet language that allows developers to attach font, spacing, speech and other information to structured HTML documents and XML applications.
CSS2 separates the presentation style of documents from document content with the goal of simplifying Web authoring and site maintenance.
One partner said that Microsoft considers CSS2 to be a "flawed" standard and that the company is waiting for a later point release, such as CSS2.1 or CSS3, before throwing its complete support behind it.
When asked about its plans for supporting CSS2 in IE 7.0, a Microsoft spokeswoman said, "Unfortunately we cant disclose anything about IE 7 right now, so we wont be able to comment on standards and CSS2."
The spokeswoman instead pointed to Microsofts IE Weblog, where company officials are highlighting Microsofts partial CSS2 compliance in IE 6.0, the most recent version of Microsofts Web browser.
A number of Web developers and customers have maintained that partial CSS2 compliance doesnt provide cross-platform interoperability and other benefits that full compliance does.
"Now that sites like Google Maps have shown how much Web designers can do with CSS and DHTML [dynamic HTML], it would be a shame for Microsoft to ignore CSS2 in IE 7.0," said James Thiele, a Seattle-based consultant and trainer.