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Strategic insights
Internet Explorer 7 - first look

Written by on July 30, 2005

Finally, some would say - Internet Explorer 7 is out as a closed beta to MSDN Subscribers.

Here is a quick look at some of the new features in it, and there are both surprises and disappointment.

Interface advances

Menus and toolbar
I think many people will be surprised by how IE 7's toolbar and menus are arranged. It seems upside down. For people who use XP, this is very strange - but what people will see is a small part of what is to become Windows Aero Interface Guidelines. This is how Microsoft Windows Vista looks.

Tabbed browsing
Most web developers would say "at last", others really do not see the need. But whatever you might feel about them, they are now an integrated part of the program. One neat feature is the "new tab" button. It is very convenient.

Search box
Just as with Firefox, IE7 now includes a built in search box (and yes, you can search using Google if you like). It even maintained my original settings. In IE6 I used Google to search for documents. IE7 did not change this.

The good stuff

RSS Support
...and it is very well made too (including auto-detection). Safari's implementation is still better, but it sure beats the hell out of Firefox's implementation.

Heavily improved security
A lot changes here. It protects you from phishing attacks, data theft, and URL and cross-browser scripting protection among others. From looking at the specifications, I would say that IE7 is now the most secure browser on the market.

Improved CSS support
There are a large number of CSS related bugs that have been fixed. There are still a few issues, but in terms of compliance it seems to me that it is a good as Firefox or Safari.

See: CSS Test Suites

Shrink to fit printing
This is simple a great feature in terms of usability. IE 7 will shrink any web pages if it is wider than the page. No more will you only be able to see 70% of an article. This also solves the age old problem with some websites designed for letter-size rather than A4 - and vise-versa.

Notice: This works regardless if you have made print specific style sheets.

Transparent PNG support
It is nice to have especially for visual effects in web applications. Transparency can be very helpful when you want to improve usability as it is less intrusive.

The problems

Browser detection - not good
Anyone here knows that browser detection is not the right approach, and many websites that relies on it simply breaks in IE7.

Some CSS browser hacks breaks
Those developers who have included IE specific CSS code also breaks in IE7 - in some cases. IE7 fixes a number of CSS oddities.

Conflict with Microsoft Anti Spyware (beta 1)
One or more of the IE7 files is flagged as being spyware - specifically some of the search features

Completely breaks Microsoft's own front page
I am not sure why, but I suspect they use some kind of browser detection.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.


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