IE7 Beta 2 available
As mentioned earlier, the eagerly awaited release of IE 7 is getting closer. Even though I certainly won’t use it as my main browser, it is very interesting from a developer’s point of view. Now that the preview of beta version 2 is out, let’s have a look.
First of all, I’m glad that Microsoft has decided to play catch-up and embrace a more standards-friendly approach, instead of just adding new functions. We’ve all read the call to action a few months back, where the IE team deals with known bugs. However, this leads to several infamous CSS hacks suddenly failing. This will hopefully activate alarm bells out there and I strongly recommend web developers to test their sites in IE7 as soon as possible to avoid sudden death.
But as Eric Meyer put it, “don’t panic”. This is a preview of a beta and a lot of things will happen before the final release. Get some good sleep before it hits the fan.
The other things you’d expect are there. RSS support, tabbed browsing, page zoom and so on. The built-in search is no longer bound to Microsoft, as other search engines can be used. Firefox use Google as default, for instance. There are third party plugins for IE, but the Firefox community is king when it comes to extensions. It’s reported to be shaky, but hey, it’s a beta.
I think the GUI is an improvement compared to the old one. The bloated buttons and other stuff I’ve disliked in IE for many years seems to be halfway gone, replaced by a slicker interface. I still miss the option to switch off anything I don’t like. I believe the bright people on the IE team have done a thorough investigation of user experiences, both past, present and future, but it all comes down to this: If I don’t want a function, I don’t want it. Don’t force me to use it, or I will use another browser (metaphorically speaking, since I haven’t used IE for several years except for development and testing purposes).
And as usual: Don’t try this at home, kids. Or else Dag Königs incident (also heard in mp3 audio podcast) could happen to you as well. For latest development on IE7, have a look at the IE blog. The final release is planned for the second half of 2006.