Review: Internet Explorer 7

Posted September 12th, 2006 by kyle

Firefox is a decent browser. Many of the bugs have been fixed. The one thing that kept me from switching to Firefox in the past, full HTML format on the clipboard, has improved in newer versions (the source URL is now included), but the page title is still not added to the source HTML, so IE still works better when importing a selection on a web page into applications like Ultra Recall.

So I’ve been looking forward to IE finally getting updated. I recently installed Internet Explorer 7 Release Candidate 1 on my main computer (Windows XP SP2) and have been very pleased. Earlier betas were a little dicey, but I have found this release to be very stable. Startup time is still nearly instant (much quicker than Firefox). Rendering speed seems a little faster, although maybe still not quite as fast as Firefox.

Several features are clearly Firefox knock-offs, the most obvious being the search bar and of course tabbed browsing, and these features have been implemented very thoughtfully in IE7. I’m not sure yet if I’ll use tabbed browsing long-term, but I do like the MRU tab ordering capability (not enabled by default — Internet Options -> Advanced -> Browsing -> Use most recent order when switching tabs with Ctrl+Tab). I don’t use these myself, but others may also like the quick tabs and tab group features.

IE7 does a good job of minimizing screen real estate consumed by menus and toolbars — small buttons are used by default, the menu bar is auto-hidden, the forward/back buttons, address bar, and search bar are all on one row, and the remaining buttons are all located on the same row as the browser tabs.

Print/print preview is one area where IE has pulled significantly ahead of Firefox. Keyboard shortcuts are available for most commands, and HandyFind (Find as you type for Windows) also works great with this release. Scaled zooming is now available, which works on sites that don’t properly handle changing the text size.

Microsoft also appears to have spent a great deal of effort in improving security. I’ve never actually experienced any security vulnerability exploits in IE6, but I feel a little safer now. Support for several newer standards has also been added or improved (AJAX, CSS, PNG, etc.). Site icons (favicon) are handled much better (shown in address bar without adding as a favorite, doesn’t seem to lose the icons, etc.).

IE7 adds a bunch of new RSS features to the browser, but it still doesn’t approach the capabilities of my feed reader of choice, Bloglines, so I didn’t spend much time there.

Overall, IE7 easily wins and has become my new default browser. Thank you, Microsoft!

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4 Comments on “Review: Internet Explorer 7”

  1. Sean Says:

    Glad you like it :) Thanks for the comments.

  2. Kinook Software Blog » Blog Archive » I Can Search That Phrase in Three Keystrokes Says:

    [...] With IE7, I was excited about the new Firefox-style Search bar (accessed via Ctrl+E), because it offers a way to configure multiple search providers that are displayed in a drop-down list. It’s pretty simple to define your own providers. And while it does provide better visibility of the defined providers (pressing Ctrl+Down Arrow while in the search bar drops down the list) and does remember past search phrases, I still was not entirely happy with it. [...]

  3. Kinook Software Blog Says:

    [...] I’ve been using HandyFind for months now and have found it to be very quick and stable and a must-have extension to Windows, and it works well with IE7. [...]

  4. Kinook Software Blog » Blog Archive » IE7 Revisited Says:

    [...] My initial reaction to IE7 was positive, but it quickly soured. Then I happened upon a way to make IE7 look like IE6 by running %WINDIR%IE7iexplore.exe rather that %ProgramFiles%Internet Exploreriexplore.exe. [...]