You may have just upgrade your Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) to Internet Explorer 7 (IE7), however, Microsoft has starting the development on on the next generation of Internet Explorer called “IE Next” (likely to be named “Internet Explorer 8” (IE8) or IE 7.5 on official release) or codenamed “Teahupoo” quite some time back. And general public, IT professional and web developers or designers will likely get to see or preview a prototype of IE 8 during the Microsoft MIX ’07 conference in late April 2007.

Most of the sessions in MIX 07 will focus on web development, with the popular AJAX, ASP.NET and WPE/E topics taking the center stage, and discussed in most sessions. However, one of the sessions at MIX’07 is “First Look at the Future of IE” which targeted audiences of web designers and web developers group with the following description:

Hear what Microsoft’s browser investments mean to you, and make sure you get a voice in shaping the next version of Internet Explorer. Hear about what features and layout issues are being worked on, and let us know what causes you the most problems.

The MIX07 session will likely introduce Internet Explorer 8.0, which will be held at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas between April 30 and May 2 this year. IE8 has expected or target release date for the final version at 18 to 24 months after the release of IE7, which makes make IE 8.0 a likely a 2008-2009 deliverable and download. However, Bill Gates has previously promised during MIX06 that a new release of IE web browser as often as 9 -12 months to keep pace with quickly evolving Web technologies and programming tools, and Chris Wilson, a manager from IE Group expects to has new release every 12 – 18 months. If this schedule is met, we can expect to see IE8 earliest by last quarter of 2007, and it can be ‘delayed’ till late 2009.

Ironically, there is a version of Microsoft Windows Internet Exporer 8.0 Alpha with codename of “Teahupoo” already circulating within Microsoft organization. But expect IE8 to continue improve, refine, enhance and bug fix on areas related to security, privacy and compatibility. Some of the features of Internet Explorer 8 include support and compliance with Cascading Style Sheet (CSS), support componentization and semantic tagging of data, and microformats harnessing.

Beside, RedmondMag (link dead) dug the transcripts of the recent web chats by members of IE teams, and discovered the following features that are been considering for the next version of IE:

  • Aability to “lock” a page to prevent users from accidentally navigating away from a page.
  • Adding a “Find on Page” capability.
  • Updating the IE rendering engine and Javascript.
  • Improving username/password management.
  • Changing the “mini-address” bar (part of drop-down browser windows) to make it more useful.
  • Lightening up .PNG images.
  • Restoring the “Image Toolbar” provided in earlier IE 7 test builds.
  • Changing the download mechanism, perhaps eliminating the initial download to the “temporary Internet files” folder.
  • Adding easily editable configuration files (similar to Firefox’s userChrome.css and UserContent.css).
  • Enabling draggable tabs from one IE window to another.
  • Supporting themes.
  • Configuring tabs so that each has its own private cookie cache.
  • Introducing new status bar info, possibly with fields such as “last accessed by user” and “window last updated”.
  • Enabling add-ons, such as stocks, movies, etc., a la Mozilla’s Firefox.

IE8 Beta 1 released.