Ho-hum browsing

In the last few weeks both Microsoft and the Mozilla Foundation have released new versions of their Internet browsers.

Internet Explorer 6 has been around for about five years, if my memory serves me correctly, and it had been looking just a bit aged and careworn. The just-launched IE 7 has been revamped and sports a cool new minimalist interface and a wad of features which, while hardly ground-breaking when compared to other browsers out there, are at least new to Internet Explorer.

Now, before you head ecstatically over to the Microsoft site to get your hands on a copy, there are a couple of things that you should know. The first is that it won’t run on computers with anything earlier than Windows XP and SP2 installed on them.

The second thing is that, if your version of Windows is the right one, you will soon have IE delivered to your desktop without any intervention on your part. This will happen through the Windows Update feature and, although, you will have the chance to decline the update, I bet it’ll nag you until you take it.

Microsoft does seem to have some sort of subliminal idea that users might not like having their IE upgraded automatically, because they are offering Enterprise (big) customers a toolkit to block the upgrade if they want to.

Anyway, as I was already at the Microsoft site (www.microsoft.com), I decided to download a copy to see what it was like. The install file was a tad over 14Mb and came down my not so-broadband in quite reasonable time.

Installation was no so quick, however, and it took nearly half an hour of whirring and clanking to itself before installation finished and it wanted to restart my computer. That done, I fired the browser up and the first thing it wanted to do was update itself again, which took another 10 minutes or so. Once it was finally going, however, it turned out to have a very different and cleaner look to its predecessor, IE 6.

It also has a new way of browsing where you don’t have to open new browser windows if you’re visiting more than one website at once. You view multiple sites in the same window and you switch between them by clicking on a row of tabs.

The other great improvement to my mind is the print feature which allows you set page margins and can shrink the content of a web page, width-wise, so that it all prints out. That’ll beat trying guess the missing bits of Auntie Rose’s travel itinerary when you’ve taken it to her after printing it out on your computer.

There is doubt in my mind that IE 7 does represent a significant improvement on the previous version but my overwhelming thought about that is; ‘so what’?

Firefox has had all these features for some time, is half the size of IE 7, will run on just about any computer, and is arguably more secure because it doesn’t have all the hackers in world feverishly trying to find security loopholes in it.

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