IE7 is slated to be a big step forward in Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser - and it's just gone out of beta and into 'release candidate 1' mode. So in this post I review the features of Internet Explorer 7 Release Candidate 1, with an accompanying Image Gallery.
As Ed Bott noted last week when IE7 is a safe and sound browser, with solid if unspectacular features IE7 Candidate 1 was released, there's not much difference between this and the previous release called Beta 3. While this version of IE7 still falls short in CSS standards compliance, IE Group Program Manager Chris Wilson told me a couple of weeks ago that the goal in IE7 is to gradually support more and more web standards. So let's put the standards support issue to one side (for now) and look instead at the new features in IE7, such as RSS support and improved UI.
Safe and sound
The Image Gallery I've put together shows a set of safe but solid features. Security is probably top of the list of 'enhanced' features in IE7. Indeed the very first pop-up box I came across when using my newly-installed IE7 Release Candidate 1 was a "Set up Phishing Filter" option/warning.
Other more predictable new features in IE7 include a new "streamlined" interface, tabs (better late than never), improved printing support, RSS feeds integrated into the browser, and an "instant search box". Nothing hugely innovative. But as Tony Chor, a Group Program Manager of Microsoft's Internet Explorer team, told a NZ conference back in May 2006: their first priority was to "make everyday browsing easier […] make the simple things better" and the secondary focus for IE7 was security and user protection.
My favorite feature is probably the ability to view a WYSIWYG view of a web page's RSS feed - and drill down and view individual categories of that feed.
When it comes down to it, IE7 is a 'catch-up' version of Microsoft's browser - adding tabs and other features that Firefox has had for a while. But IE7 also makes the browsing experience more useful for normal people - e.g. the improved printing support and better toolbar management.
The CSS is (as we know) a work-in-progress and I personally would like to have seen some truly innovative features. But I guess the purpose of IE7 is to get it back up to par with Firefox, Opera and the others - and make it more user-friendly at the same time. And in that respect IE7 is a good solid browser.