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Microsoft IE7 Beta 2 Public Preview


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Internet Explorer 7.0 Beta 2 Public Preview Review

A small part of the review.

By Paual Thurrotts:

IE 7.0 Beta 2 Preview

The version of IE 6 that Microsoft included with Windows XP SP2 was actually a pretty dramatic improvement over previous IE 6 versions, though most of the benefits were security-related. Microsoft learned a number of lessons from this IE version, however. All of its customers, even security professionals, were clamoring for new features, such as tabbed browsing, which have been offered in competing browsers for years. And even from a security standpoint, IE needed improvements to deal with new kinds of attacks, such as phishing scams, and to give users more control. With these ideas in mind, it's not hard to see how IE 7 is panning out.

The key thing to remember about IE 7 is that there will be two versions: A standalone upgrade version that will ship for XP users--the focus of this review--and an enhanced version that will be integrated into Windows Vista. The Windows Vista version is a superset of the XP version. That is, it includes all of the features from the XP version, plus a few unique features. These features, described below, will make the Vista version of IE 7 the safest Web browser available to users on any platform.

New user interface

From its new icon to the strangely Vista-esque look of the application itself, IE 7 is clearly a big change from previous IE versions (Figure). On Windows Vista, the new application style looks familiar, because that's how all application and shell windows look, but on XP the look is jarring. The classic menu bar is gone (though you can toggle it by simply clicking the ALT key) and the Address bar is next to the Back and Forward buttons, and at the top of the window. Other often-used toolbar buttons are below that, and well over to the right. On the left, you'll see some new buttons and a single tab, representing the currently-loaded document. At first glance, this all appears as a jumble of awkwardly and almost randomly located user interface elements, but you'll get used to the layout for the most part. I still find myself mousing over towards the left in search of the Home button, however.

Once you get past the weirdness of the layout, what emerges is an interesting confluence of IE and Firefox. As with Firefox, you get tabbed browsing (described in the next section), an inline search box, which Microsoft calls the Toolbar Search Box, and a streamlined look and feel. However, credit Microsoft for at least trying. Even in those areas in which the company appears to be copying Firefox features, there are improvements. For example, the Toolbar Search Box can be customized to use any search engine, as with Firefox, but Microsoft also integrates a handy "Find on this page" feature to the search box, and integrates its searching functionality with the Address Bar. So, as with previous IE versions, you can type search queries directly into the Address Bar, and IE 7 will use your configured search engine to search the Web. With Firefox, you simply get the top search result when you search from the Address Bar.

Because the classic menu is gone, IE's Favorites feature has been replaced by the new and more powerful Favorites Center. Accessed by clicking the Star icon to the left of the tab, the Favorites Center is essentially an Explorer Bar that can be tacked onto the left side of the IE window (Figure). The Favorites Center contains the contents of the traditional IE Favorites folder, of course, but it also lets you more easily configure Favorites via a rich right-click menu. If you want to add a new Favorite, you don't have to open Favorites Center, however: Just click the "+" button to the right of the Favorites Center icon.

IE 7 also supports an awesome Page Zoom feature that augments, rather than replaces, the previous system, whereby you chose zoom levels by names such as "bigger" and "smaller." Now available via a Page Zoom button in the bottom right of the browser window, this feature lets you zoom from 10 percent all the way up to 1000 percent, or set a custom zoom level (Figure). Most impressively, it's a smart zoom: You don't just get zoomed text, as with previous versions; instead, the entire page is zoomed (Figure). It's an attractive effect and will likely be a huge boon to the vision impaired. You can zoom with the mouse button as well: Hold down CTRL and scroll in either direction with the mouse wheel.

Note that in Beta 2, this feature is slightly buggy: If you zoom above 100 percent and then return to 100 percent, the page is sometimes still slightly off-centered when you return, and refreshing the page won't help.

One of the biggest improvements in IE 7 is its printing functionality. Via the new Print Preview window (Figure), you can now easily switch between landscape and portrait printing modes, turn headers on and off, manually set margin width with cool new sizing widgets, and set manual zoom levels, including shrink to fit. Anyone who's ever printed a document from IE will smile knowingly when I tell you that the nightmare is over. IE 7's new printing functionality is top-notch and a complete 180 from the wretched experience in previous IE versions. Can I get a huzzah?

Full Review

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What's the main difference then between version 7 and version 6?

I doubt that I will move from Firefox though. It runs well, is reliable and has neat features built into it already, so why would you need anything else?

Besides that, it's not Microsoft, so that can only be a good thing.

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What's the main difference then between version 7 and version 6?

I doubt that I will move from Firefox though.  It runs well, is reliable and has neat features built into it already, so why would you need anything else?

Besides that, it's not Microsoft, so that can only be a good thing.

Tabbed browsing and alot more bloat. It's still really slow compared to FF or opera.

Also, it's supposed to be more secure, but the jury is still out on that one.

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The thing Im not keen on so far is my text has gone slightly blurd.

On your desktop, right click and select 'Properties'. Hit the 'Appearance' tab up top, then the 'Effects..' button in the bottom right. Uncheck the box labelled 'Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts:'

The beta (which people really shouldn't be installing on their production machines) turns on ClearType screen font subpixel antialiasing.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Currently using it right now. Seems ok, but I don't see how it is any speedier at loading up web pages etc.

The main difference that I notice is that the web looks better than it did with IE6. The text displayed on screen is kinder to the eye than before.

Still don't see a reason to move from FF though. What with the amount of bugs and hackers that will try and compromise anything to do with MS, I can still see me steering clear of IE7.

Besides, using FF is great 'cause you know you're helping out one of the small guys, not a company that already has a monopoly on things as it is.

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Haha, I love this. It's soooo tiny, it's great. I'm not used to tabbed browsing, so I've been closing off like foru windows at once, oops.

Not too shabby for a little Beta. I do like it. I've NEVER liked FF or Opera, too heavy for me, I just don't like them.

I'm an IE fan and love the new improvements.

I just want my Links section back, that's all I miss. The non-adware search function is nice, especially when you add the weather channel. Type in a zip-code and you're good to go.

Fun little Beta, keeps things light and fast. I just miss my Links


Wait, I figured it out, I've got my links back. :) I'm a happy man now.

Edited by Ruin
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