Microsoft's pre-beta 2 IE 7 delivers few changes. Major new features include tabbed browsing, a toolbar-integrated search box, and limited RSS support.
Version 7 also has a much more compact and streamlined interface than its predecessor, with a strong emphasis on dedicating as much of the window as possible to the displayed Web site. Also included are a number of security upgrades, like a new antiphishing filter.
Tabbed-browsing and search bar on a more streamlined toolbar helped propel Mozilla's Firefox and should already be familar to Web surfers. Microsoft has tried to best Firefox with a feature called Quick Tabs which provides an at-a-glance, thumbnail view of all open tabs in a single window.
Microsoft has improved the sidebar area of Internet Explorer, which has been renamed the Favorites Center and now includes Favorites, Tab Groups, Browsing History, and RSS Feed Subscriptions. In addition, IE7 automatically shrinks a Web page to fit the paper you're printing to. And like the Opera browser, IE7 also offers full-page zoom, which can scale up or down the size of both text and graphics on any Web page.
The release is not yet Beta 2, because it "requires additional fit and finish work," said Microsoft. This version of the browser is compatible only with Windows XP Service Pack 2.
Security improvements in IE7 other than anti-phishing features include address bar protection, ActiveX opt-in, a security status bar, the ability to delete various aspects of browser history quickly and easily, and several other measures. The current version does not include two additional security features that will appear in the Windows Vista version of IE7, including protected mode, which isolates IE7 from other applications in the operating system, and a new user-configurable Parental Controls feature which lets parents set several restrictions on computer and Internet usage for their children.
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