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Product: Windows Internet Explorer 7 RC 1
Company: Microsoft
Estimated Street Price:
Review By: Andre Da Costa

Everybody knows Internet Explorer, whether you hate it or love it, itís the most popular web browser around the world. Apart from the new user interface, which seems a bit squeezed, Internet Explorer 7 biggest features are Security and Really Simple Syndication. RSS allows the user to subscribe to their favorite websiteís and receive notifications of updates to those subscribed sites without the need to individually browse each to check for new information. An orange button (also used by FireFox) indicates when a site is RSS enabled, click it and you are presented in a Feed view of the particular site, which you can then save and add to your collection of feeds in the Favorites Center. You can set the browser to download new updates automatically at certain intervals.

Itís a new take on accessing information and will take some getting used to; the pervasiveness of this innovation will certainly be assisted and promoted by the popularity of the Internet Explorer platform providing users a more efficient and faster way to get the information they need whenever they want. If you have been using IE 7 on either XP or Vista, one of the first things you might notice is the disintegration between it and Explorer, for example, if you type a URL in the folderís address bar, the IE window will be launched separately, compared to IE 6 on XP, the Explorer was automatically utilized. It seems Microsoft is realizing that tying the browser to Windows wasnít such a good idea after all. As for security, IE 7 includes some advanced technologies; Protected Mode allows users to have a safer browsing experience on the web, so things such as malicious software will have greater difficulty getting installed onto the system.

It also provides Standard users with the flexibility of installing software without the need for administrative privileges. Another part of the secure browsing experience in IE 7 is Phishing Filter, which prevents the user from revealing personal or critical data to sites that pretend to be legitimate, such as your bank or a reputable merchant. Included is a no add on version of IE 7 located under Accessories > System Tools, which is basically a stripped down version of IE 7 that does not load ActiveX Controls or third party browser extensions in the browser, although I notice I could still do so if desired. The improvements to these areas of IE make experiences such as e-commerce less risky and provide a more confident, trust worthy browsing experience for the user.

The interface is a drastic departure from past versions, but itís definitely a change for survival. The navigation buttons back/forward and the Address Bar have been merged to provide a more simplified navigation layout, but another reason could also be attributed to Tabbed browsing which is finally now a part of the IE interface. Common interface elements, buttons such as Home, Print, Feeds and Favorites are spread across, Stop and Refresh button are now also a part of the Address bar, which in a sense is more logical integration when you think about it. Itís almost difficult to describe the new layout as I sit here, you could best summarize it as one toolbar that contains everything. Integrated Search is also visible in the upper right corner of the IE window, which defaults to Windows Live but provides users the option of choosing another Search provider if they wish. Tabbed browsing is a very convenient way to reduce Taskbar clutter and provide a centralized way to keep all of your open sites accessible from one IE window. Some nice features include a Gallery view, which displays a thumbnail preview of all your open windows; other notable features include drag and drop rearranging of Tabs. The Favorites Center represented by a star, host your favorite websites, Feeds and History. A new Print Preview and fit to print feature finally allows for text be printed as seen on screen without chunks being cut off. Another user experience improvement is the ability to restore your IE settings if the browser becomes unstable. This process deletes all Internet Explorer Temporary files, disables browser add-ons and resets all changed settings, basically it turns IE 7 into a virgin again.

For almost 6 years now, Internet Explorer has been long in the tooth when it comes to new releases because of Microsoftís previous stance on releasing major new versions of the browser with major new versions of Windows, but the trade off was a major blow and it was called innovation, while FireFox dawned on users with features such as tabbed browsing, enhanced security and a grass roots following that has since propelled the browser to over 200 million downloads around 15% market share. The question now is can IE 7 catch up? Well, I would say yes of course, since the popularity of Windows plus the bundling with it will definitely give it a secured opportunity to continue its dominance way into the future. Version 7ís acceptance will further be influenced by its disintegration from the OS, which will be seen as a safer move, improvements and better integration with the W3C Web standards will also help further improve and stabilize the relationship with web developers. The IE Team list some of changes they have made to CSS in IE 7, you can check them out here. IE has just as much or even more of a cult following than many of the browsers out there, plus the millions of businesses that have tied specialty applications to the platform will further ensure that there is a secure moat around the Enterprise, keeping FireFox at bay for a long time.

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