June 2, 2006

Internet Explorer 7

It's been many years since IE 6 was released. During its heyday IE 6 commanded a 95% share of the browser market, largely at the determent of Netscape, partly due to its automatic installation with Windows. Since IE 6 Microsoft has stood still while other free browsers have started to erode market share, the two most popular being Firefox and Opera. As Microsoft prepares for the transition to Vista in early 2007 they have made available a public release of their new browser IE 7.

IE 7 is the first upgrade to come out of Microsoft in the last 5 years that is actually worthwhile. Feature for feature it is now on-par or better then Firefox. Not surprisingly, Microsoft have chosen to also focus on security in IE 7 and the results are impressive.

First IE 7 has a brand new look and feel. Unlike other Microsoft products the toolbars in IE 7 take up considerably less space then before, allowing you to view more of any particular webpage without scrolling. Also, for beginners there are less buttons to get confused over and a generally more streamlined look and feel.

Probably the biggest change is the addition of tabbed browsing. Other browsers have offered this feature for many years but IE 7 does it better then most, and enables it by default. Tabbed browsing allows you to open many webpages within a single window - making information easier to find and causing less stress on your computer. Additionally, when you have tabs open in IE 7 there is a single button that will display a thumbnail of all open windows in a single view. This is a handy feature if you need to know the pages you have open.

IE 7 introduces some smarts around printing as well. IE 7 will now automatically shrink text in order to fit a whole screen on one page. You can even customise margins, page layouts and add ot remove headers and footers.

Lastly security has become a major focus and IE 7 is the first browser to introduce security features that aim at keeping your personal data safe and saving you from online phishing scams.

To use IE 7 beta you'll need Windows XP and Service Pack 2. For now it is a free download here.