IE7 Beta 2 publically available

Get it here if you’re so inclined:

I’m a bit of a mozilla curmudgeon, so I can’t see making a switch to IE, but I must admit, it runs fast, has implemented tabs well, supports RSS and sports a search dialogue with Google as the default engine. The quick tabs pane is neato.

If you want a quick tab knockoff for Firefox, it was available a few weeks back here:

I can see why this release is mainly for developers. Basically, I can’t get beyond the lousy interface redesign (icons in all the wrong places and inability to resize the search/address bars), but since I don’t use IE for anything other than MS Updates, I’m not all that bothered. Besides, it’s only a beta version right now, and I’m sure it’ll change. Tabbed browsing is the biggest new feature that I’d care about, and the ease of adding new search providers (which I promptly changed from the MSN default) is great for users. I’m sure security and browsing updates will be beneficial in the end, but I just don’t see anything that’d make me switch to IE7 over Fx yet.

At least the site I designed for our business looks good in IE7, but there’s nothing fancy in it.

Uh, the interface redesign is great. It now has the best interface of any browser that I’ve used. I don’t see why they’d go through the trouble of creating a superior UI just to change it this late in the game. The fact that some people hate it is probably a good thing, though, because it shows that there’s some differentiation in the field and more people are likely to find something they’ll be comfortable with.

Thanks for pointing this out, mono. I’m going to beat on this browser for a few weeks to see how it holds up.

That Firefox extension BLOWS. I want to be able to tile tabs within one instance of the browser, but I have to be able to actually interact with them, and not just choose one like what the extension does. Can the new IE do that? Opera could, and that was great, but it had too many page compatibility problems.

If they wanted people to find something they’d be comfortable with, they’d have more options for customizing the interface to how an individual would like it. That’s why I think the design is lousy. I don’t like having buttons for commonly used actions spread out across the interface (back/forward to the left of the address bar while stop is to the right of the address bar, with the home button, and other icons below and to the right of the stop, and a favourites center all the way to the left again beside the first tab) and the inability to resize the search/address bars on my widescreen. Made me implement the classic menu right away just so I can get everything in one spot, but even it takes up an entire row and cannot be moved, despite all the extra room beside it. If they made the interface entirely customizable then I’d not have much of an issue with it and could move on.

I understand that each user will have their own preferences that will lean them one way or another, so it’s no surprise that you may find the interface design better than any other browser. I am curious, however, why you think so. Perhaps there’s something I’m missing to make it more friendly for me.

Ugh, having the stop button to the right of the address bar is terrible. They should have kept the buttons together. Sigh.

Okay, saying its the “best” great interface is prematurely gushing, and untrue. I’ve got Firefox, Safari, Opera, and the old IE loaded up now to compare, but it’s going to take a while to see how useable this new kid on the block really is. I like how they got rid of the menu bar, though. The less crap up there, the better. As for buttons, the most useful ones are back, forward, and bookmarks. All of those are grouped together to the upper left which is a good, intuitive spot. I’m particularly glad the bookmarks don’t tile over other interface elements. The “quick tabs” button that appears when you have multiple tabs open is nice, and I’m glad it goes away when you’ve only got one tab up. All the default buttons on the right are good choices for less-accessed functions. How often do you stop a website from loading? Once a week? Once a month? For my purposes, having it shunted off to the right is okay.

Probably the best way to navigate is to turn off all interface elements (as in kiosk mode in Opera) and just use keyboard shortcuts, but this isn’t bad.

I disagree about the emphatic blowing. It doesn’t do what you would have liked, but that’s not the extension’s problem. … If you have a large number of tabs, it allows you to quickly locate and return to the page you’re looking for. The IE7 quick tab function works roughly the same. Why you would want to interact with a teensy browser thumbnail is beyond me.

A note for anyone testing this on a working system (gasp you shouldn’t, you know), I noticed some odd behaviour in Norton Internet Security 2006 after installing IE7b2 (yes, yes, I know some of ya’ll don’t think it’s worth the CD it’s published on). This is due to the fact that NIS uses IE scripts to display their screens and IE7 changes the security settings for various scripting events. Essentially, the screens wouldn’t display or were corrupted, with error messages popping up (IE script errors) in NIS. Since I didn’t care about IE7 and won’t be using it for anything much at the moment, I uninstalled it and went back to IE6. The problem in NIS went away. I had tried to change the security on the scripts in IE7 Internet Settings, but that didn’t seem to matter, and I didn’t want to troubleshoot beyond that at the moment.

So, a warning if you come across such errors, it may be due to changes made in IE7 that breaks these older programs. It’s more likely to be an issue with the way the other programs are designed more than an IE7 glitch, though, so I’m not blaming MS for this one (unless I hear different).