Internet Explorer 7

This week I’ll be publishing a letter from one of my loyal readers regarding the new beta version of Internet Explorer that has just been published on the Microsoft website:

At last the beta version of Internet Explorer 7 is available for download, at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/ie7/default.mspx – This will be the standard browser in Windows Vista when it is launched in September 2006.

The main emphasis of the new browser seems to be on simplicity, with the interface being considerably simpler than previous versions – This may not please the purists as some features are not now as easy to access as they were in the earlier versions.The main additions are tabbed browsing (which Firefox and Opera have offered for ages) and the built in RSS reader.RSS feeds with the orange RSS logo like this are becoming very common and for example they can be a much quicker way of reading the news headlines on the BBC’s website.IE7 can also display all of the currently open tabs as quick tabs, which is like a thumbnail image of all the open tabs.

Although there is nothing badly wrong with IE7, it is unlikely to bowl over the current enthusiasts of Firefox and Opera.Also worth a mention is the freeware Avant Browser which can be downloaded at www.snapfiles.com and is in my view a better all round browser and RSS feed reader than IE7.As ever Microsoft seems to be playing catch-up to newer and more flexible pieces of software, and nowadays I rarely use Windows Media Player because Winamp is so much better.

Having said the above, market research suggests that Internet Explorer has 90% of the market for web browsing, simply because many people do not get round to trying the alternatives like Firefox and Opera.This is a good time for people to look at the alternatives because frankly although it is okay, Internet Explorer 7 is not the best tabbed browser.

Ian MacMillan, via e-mail.

After downloading the latest version of Internet Explorer for myself I must side with Ian and say that I am somewhat disappointed with the modest improvements that Microsoft have made to the application in this latest incarnation.Rather than innovating in any shape or form they seem to have simply tried to make their browser more like Firefox and whilst imitation is the highest form of flattery I find it quite funny that such a large, expensive programming team should try to emulate a browser which was originally pioneered by a couple of bedroom programmers.

I don’t like the streamlined toolbar; it is missing a load of options that the average user requires and the new design is moving away from the standardised interface we are used to all Windows applications.I can see this leading to a fair amount of confusion as the fact there are no menus present for the ‘file’, ‘edit’ and ‘tools’ functions had me scratching my head for a minute.

The only truly unique feature I can see this application has having is the new ‘phishing filter’ which aims to protect you from websites that aim to gain personal details by deception.For example, a common problem at the moment is websites ripping off the designs of banking websites in an attempt to steal bank details off the unsuspecting.To be honest such a filter is long overdue in any browser as this problem has been around for a while now but quite how effective and up to date it’ll be remains to be seen.

It is also worth pointing out that as mentioned at the beginning of this article Internet Explorer 7 is still in beta format which essentially means it’s unfinished – We could see a fair few improvements before the final version is released and before it starts shipping with the new, unfinished Windows Operating System ‘Vista’.Personally I believe the improvements will be enough to stop many people moving to an alternative such as Firefox however those such as myself who are already using an alternative will have little incentive to switch back.

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

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