Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Microsoft Introduces Internet Explorer 7.0








By: Courtney David Mills

IPA Technology Director and Litigation Paralegal at Hoover Hull LLP


Internet Explorer 7 (“IE7”) is the latest version of Microsoft’s popular web browsing utility. Web browsers are programs created that allow people to browse the internet. The most popular web browsers are; Netscape, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, AOL, and Opera. During the earlier part of the past decade, Microsoft had been accused of monopolizing the web browser market by bundling Internet Explorer with the Windows operating system. In the early years of the internet revolution, Netscape was the most popular web browser. In 1995, Microsoft introduced its own web browser, Internet Explorer, and a fierce battled ensued between Microsoft and Netscape over market share in the web browsing market (this period became known as the browser wars). In 1998, the Department of Justice filed a case against Microsoft
alleging unfair business practices. The crux of the allegations against Microsoft are based on their practice of bundling their operative system and web browser together. Following the end of the browser wars in the late 90s, other web browsers entered the market and gained market share. This move towards alternative web browsers was due in large part to ongoing security concerns with previous versions of Internet Explorer, new features of web browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, and Opera, and the less obvious factor of increased bandwidth speed available to
consumers (one reason for the fall of Netscape is that the program had to be either purchased or requested on a CD because it was too large for most computers to download over dial-up connection). Both Firefox and Opera introduced new features to the public, including tabbed browsing, and built-in RSS readers. These features are now for the first time included in Internet Explorer via IE7.

Tabbed Browsing:

One of the most noticeable aspects of IE7 is the tabbed browsing feature. Tabbed browsing essentially allows you to have multiple web pages open within the same Internet Explorer window. With previous versions of Internet Explorer, if a user had five web pages open at the same time, they would have either five buttons on their toolbar, or would have one button and a stack of buttons (this feature is called grouping and is part of Microsoft Windows XP). With tabbed browsing, you can have multiple web pages open within the same window and switch between the web pages by clicking the tab. If you need a new tab open, you just click the shortened tab to the right of the regular tab, and a new tab will open.

Built-in RSS Reader:

Another feature of IE7 that is sure to draw attention is the integration of a RSS reader. When I wrote an article about RSS Readers in June 2006, I explained that RSS readers were essentially a tool used to subscribe to websites so that updates are made to a particular section or page of a website, you are notified of same (see the Technology Archive on IPA’s website for more information regarding RSS readers). IE7 features a built-in RSS reader that can be accessed under the favorites tab (in IE7, your favorites can be accessed by click the star on the left side of the tool bar). Once you click on the star, you will see separate tabs for favorites and feeds. The
feeds list is similar to your favorites list, but includes all RSS feeds that you have subscribed to. RSS feeds that have been updated since you last visited them are indicated in bold font.

If you have not already seen IE7, it is definitely worth a look. If you are already using Internet Explorer as your default web browser, then it may be time to upgrade. IE7 is free to download, and features optional add-ons, that are nearly identical to Firefox’s extensions. The optional add-ons add new features to IE7 and most are free, although some are not. If you have automatic update feature turned on (you know, that annoying yellow shield thing in the bottom right corner), you have most likely been prompted to download IE7. If you do not have automatic updates turned on, you can visit http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.mspx to access the free download. IE7 will also be included with Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows Vista, due to be released in early 2007.

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