In the words of WWE‘s Jim "JR" Ross we have some huge news for you ladies and gentlemen. In common with the news we usually get out of Good Ol’ JR this news isn’t actually particularly huge, nor is it at this stage particularly new (I was away from my blog feeds most of the day so I’m only reading about this now).

It seems the fact that over 25 million people have downloaded Firefox in less than 100 days since 1.0 was released has pushed Microsoft to release Internet Explorer 7 sooner than they had planned. The old plan was to release the next version of IE as part of Longhorn, no sooner than 2006. It seems the current plan of releasing a beta this summer will push that forwards by at least a few months (even if Longhorn isn’t delayed; who’ll give me odds on that happening?) Equally importantly the beta (and therefore the final release) will work on Windows XP. On a side note it seems that all the most visible aspects of Longhorn are either now planned for some sort of XP release (IE, Avalon) or shelved altogether (WinFS).

Since Microsoft always refuses to comment on features in development we don’t know if they’ve fixed any of the most frequently annoying bugs that they’ve been spamed about on their IE team blog since it launched. I’m thinking of support for things like PNG alpha transparency, position: fixed, and display: table and its kin.

The best sources on this, from Firefox’s perspective, are Asa and Blake; they seem to have all of the major sources linked.