A few thoughts while working with Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview:
- Installation was very, very fast. A lot faster, in fact, than previous versions of IE. And at 11 MB, it’s a smaller download, too (mainly because all those extra apps simply aren’t bundled anymore). Running the Malicious Software Removal Tool before installing the new version of IE is a really great touch. Doing Genuine Advantage Validation AGAIN is not. I thought I was finished with that roadblock once I validated my installation in Windows Update? Microsoft really likes checking up on installations to make sure they’re legit time and time again. We have to activate so we can continue to use the operating system for any reasonable length of time; we have to revalidate the OS when we go to Windows Update; and Lord knows how many times thereafter we’ll have to revalidate. Can’t this all be tied to the product activation key that we get after setup? Sorry, I got off on a tangent…
- The interface is clearly designed for Windows Vista, and as such makes for a very confusing backport to Windows XP. The buttons all over the interface are clearly created under Windows Vista guidelines, the traditional “File/Edit/View/Tools/Favorites/Help” menu is hidden until you press “Alt” (and I found that by accident), and the toolbars are largely uncustomizable. It took me a few minutes to find the Links bar and get that displaying again. It displays acceptably if you use Luna as your theme, but it’s downright horrid if you use Classic mode in XP (as I do).
border-style: dottedFINALLY works the way it was intended – no more dashed line crap. Firefox still displays this and dashed borders more cleanly, however.
- I’ve yet to try PNG-24 transparency. I really hope it works this time. (Update: After six years since it was first implemented in IE 5.5 as a DirectX ImageTransform method, it FINALLY works the way it was supposed to.)
- The “Quick Tabs” feature, in which each of your open tabs are displayed as thumbnails in a preview window, must be ported to Firefox as an extension. It’s that sweet. I could see myself seriously missing that feature in Firefox.
- Feed discovery works as expected, and the RSS reader built into IE is pretty sweet, if not a bit of a rip from Safari 2.0. I need to try embedding a feed in the Links bar and seeing if it will cascade out a la Firefox’s Live Bookmarks feature.
- Zoom is surprisingly good, resizing all text and images on the screen rather well. It seems to use a DirectX filter to do the image resizing.
- ClearType appears to be enabled for all Web pages, regardless of the setting in Windows XP. I already am a religious user of ClearType (an absolute must on LCDs, so-so on CRTs) so I didn’t notice until I saw it in IE’s options.
- All of the old Windows 95-era icons for the security zones appear to finally have been eradicated. It sure took them long enough. It’s little inconsistencies like this that blow my mind sometimes.
I’ll have a bit more on this later when I have some more time to really play with it and see how it goes. The improvements found in this prerelease version are very encouraging but I wish Microsoft would continue to do more work in the web standards arena for final (I still have issues with borders not being applied in places where every other browser – including the Mac version of IE – would apply them.)