Internet Explorer 7 First Impressions

As many of you may be aware Microsoft have now made the final release of Internet Explorer 7 available for download. This can either be downloaded from the Microsoft web site or, as I mentioned a week ago, you can wait until next month and let Microsoft Automatic Updates do the job for you.

There are many reviews of the Internet Explorer 7 browser which you may have seen already so I won’t bore you too much with the new features.

Back in August when I was reviewing Windows Vista I noticed Internet Explorer 7 was really slow, even with the security features like anti-phishing turned off. With this latest release it does seem better, but it still seems slower compared to Firefox, even with anti-phishing turned off.

Internet Explorer 7 is definitely an improvement over its predecessor. I like the new minimalist UI, less cluttered than the previous version, with the toolbar buttons like the Home Page, RSS Feeds and other Tools neatly placed on the right-hand side of the browser window.

You can see how Microsoft has faced some pressure from other browsers in the marketplace, Microsoft has now started to play catch-up introducing features like tabbed browsing. The additional security features like anti-phishing should also be welcomed. These type of features are now also present in Firefox and Opera’s recent fraud protection.

There were a couple of Internet Explorer 7 features I didn’t like.

When you first install and run the browser it displays an initial ‘Customize your Settings’ page where you can set things like your default search provider, switch on automatic phishing protection, etc. Not surprisingly the default search provider defaults to Microsoft Live Search. There is a radio button where you can change the search provider to something like Google but as soon as you select the radio button it displays a message which says Click “Save Settings” below to see the list of search providers. I instinctively clicked the “Save Settings” button thinking it would display a list of search providers, but what it did was close the “Customize Your Settings” page and I couldn’t find a way to go back to this page and finish off setting all the other customize options. They should have provided a list of search providers on the initial customize page.

The other thing I didn’t like is that if you click on a Feedburner syndicated feed then the browser will default to the Internet Explorer 7 feed system, which means you can’t easily add the feed to another reader like NewsGator, Rojo or Bloglines. This can be illustrated as follows, if you click on this Feedburner syndicated feed for a gaming web site in Firefox then you are presented with a list of feed readers to select. In Internet Explorer 7 you have no choice, you can only use the Microsoft built-in feed reader.

I would also liked to have seen a favourites toolbar like there is in Firefox. Internet Explorer 7 has what it calls the “Favorites Center” but it is a separate window that you can pin to the left hand side of the browser, thus losing some screen real estate.

I also had a couple of stability issues. The browser crashed 3 times today, once whilst writing this post, but maybe I am having a bad day or some 3rd party tool like anti-spyware is interfering 🙂

I can see a lot of people liking Internet Explorer 7, especially where using an alternative browser is not possible, like at work, or for products that don’t work particularly well in Firefox like Microsoft Sharepoint sites. But I still feel other browsers like Firefox will continue to chip away at Microsoft’s market share. Only time will tell I guess.

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3 comments so far

  1. […] Now that Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 have been released it will be interesting to see whether Microsoft will be able to reverse this trend and take back any market share from Mozilla. I wrote a review of Internet Explorer 7 last month and it is certainly now on a more level playing field with Firefox 2 with regard to features. […]

  2. Tyrax on

    “I would also liked to have seen a favourites toolbar like there is in Firefox.”

    IE has had this for years, right click in an open area in the tab row, and choose “links”. You can add favorites in the links folder of the favorites center.

    If you don’t like to placement of the bar default, you can go to this page to fix it:
    http://enhanceie.com/ie/tweaks.asp

    If crashing is really a problem, then try running IE with no add-ons. And remove add-ons you have installed that you are not using.

    There were major problems with older versions of the google toolbar and google desktop. If you use those, update to the newest versions.

  3. Dean on

    Thanks for the tip about the Links bar in Internet Explorer. I’ve never noticed that before.

    I’m surprised Microsoft haven’t made this feature more prominent in the UI before. It’s a definite plus point for any browser and is one of the reasons I use Firefox. I wonder if other people are unaware of this feature? It could be easy to miss, or maybe it’s just me!

    When you first install Firefox the bookmarks toolbar is switched on by default with a couple of Mozilla links preset in the toolbar. IE could have adopted the same stance and switched on the Links toolbar automatically with a couple of preset Microsoft links.


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