For the past few weeks, I've been trying out the first beta version of Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP SP2, and I have to say that while its functionality is pretty good, I'm a bit underwhelmed by it.
Maybe my expectation was wrong but I was expecting to see something a little more visually exciting than it currently looks. All the talk about tabbed browsing being implemented and I was thinking that I'd see something that looks like Firefox, perhaps, even Maxthon, the IE-based browser I used for some years (when it was known as MyIE) before switching to Firefox last year.
No, it's all a bit bland-looking really.
That aside, it's pretty good in its functionality. Perhaps that's the key to how it might survive in a crowded browser market - it just works. And considering it's only a beta, I am impressed that I have had no crashes or failures so far.
Two new features that I like:
1. Integrated RSS bookmarking with a little orange button simply called 'Feeds.' It works nicely in adding RSS to your Favorites, although to make it work you need to make a change in the options settings (it would be smarter to make this behaviour the default). See this post on the IE7 developer blog for detail on IE7 and RSS. A good move to call it 'Feeds' - you and I know it's RSS but who really cares what it's called when all you want to do is grab the content? 'Feeds' is a much better name and will simplify all the techie-talk surrounding new media tools like RSS and thus aid its wider take up.
2. Phishing protection that alerts you if you're about to land on a potentially fraudulent web site. (Here's an explanation of phishing.) The IE7 documentation about the phishing filter and how it works is very good, clear and simply written so that just about anybody will understand what phishing is and why protection is a good idea.
So, initial impressions from using IE7 on and off over the past few weeks. It's not my default browser and not because it's a beta. I will stick with Firefox and probably consider at IE7 again once it's actually released, although using the betas will obviously influence my thinking. Meanwhile, I'll continue playing with it.