A new preview version of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, with tabbed browsing, an integrated search box, and RSS support — all features long taken for granted by Firefox users — is now available.
The beta 2 preview of version 7 also sports a much more compact and streamlined interface than that of the current IE, with a strong emphasis on dedicating as much of the window as possible to the displayed website.
Like any still-in-development program, the preview release has bugs and rough edges: users will encounter some display problems and program crashes. In this edition of IE only two slim toolbars sit up top, with the navigation buttons back, forward, refresh and home split between them.
Tabs, new to version 7, appear on the second toolbar. Although the tabs can’t be moved around, there is a nice feature called “Quick Tabs”: clicking a gridlike icon next to the tabs brings up a convenient thumbnail display of all currently open pages.
New security features include an anti-phishing filter that warns when users come across a known phishing site; better ActiveX management and programming changes that try to reduce the number of avenues for attack.
Also offered is a one-click option to clear personal browsing data, including the history, cookies, and the cache.
A more polished beta 2 release is due for release in the coming months. Distribution of the final IE 7 release is planned for the second half of 2006.