Huge news from Bill Gates: Microsoft will release Internet Explorer 7 before releasing the next version of Windows (codename Longhorn), in stark contrast with Microsoft's original, longstanding plan. Why is this huge news? It's huge for two reasons. First, if folks adopt IE7 quickly, website designers will (hopefully) be able to begin phasing out some of the hacks necessary to get websites to display properply in IE. Current versions of IE are filled with bugs and they don't adhere well to standards of website design. Second, it demonstrates just how frightened Microsoft is of Firefox, Opera, and other "alternative" web browsers. Microsoft doesn't scare easily, so the move to release IE7 is an indication that they fear their monopoly is threatened.
Oh, and this also proves that Microsoft is aware that IE is currently a steaming pile of horse crap.
The makers of Firefox and Opera, et al., will need to react smartly and quickly to this news. Expect new versions of all the "alternative" browsers, and maybe even a substantial media push, before IE7 is released.