IE 7 : a significant upgrade

I was asked by my parents how the Internet Explorer 7 fared against Firefox 2.0, so I downloaded Microsoft’s latest version of the browser. IE 7 is a significant upgrade on Microsoft’s part, incorporating many of the technologies and features that made Firefox (and to a lesser extent Opera) a fave among power users. The redesign look of the browser feels more modern.After using IE 7 for around a week or so, I ended up with the following observations.

Installation was smooth with no major problems or disasters. Microsoft’s download is significantly larger than Firefox’s and they need to validate your copy of Windows before download begins. This means users with pirated copies of Windows are out of luck – or at least need a work-around. Previous favourites and settings were carried over. Upon completion of installation, PC needs rebooting. Overall, installation took more steps than Firefox. Like Firefox 2.0, rendering / loading speed of pages were reasonably speedy. I experienced no problems so far with majority of pages.

The interface of IE 7 has been radically re-hauled. The new look is very sleek and in my opinion not only an improvement over IE 6 but also surpasses Firefox 2.0 in terms of sheer style. Usability is altogether another issue, as IE users with have to become accustomed to the re-arranged toolbars and new button locations. I found the placement of the Home and Refresh buttons odd. IE 7 now features tabbed browsing. In barebones mode, IE 7’s tab features are decent and compares favourably with Firefox.

By default, IE 7 switches on Microsoft’s ClearType technology for LCD monitors. I wasn’t aware that this feature was embedded in Windows XP. With this technology, I discovered that fonts have a much better presentation because of anti-aliasing. Since IE 7 turned it on for the browser only, I subsequently enabled ClearType for all applications on my PC via Microsoft’s 4-page web ClearType web tuner.

Personally, I still prefer Firefox 2.0 over IE 7 for two main reasons. Firstly, Firefox 2.0 has a built in spell checker which is extremely useful. Secondly, IE 7 is more instrusive with Active X warnings – it even prompted me with warnings when I loaded a simple HTML page I created on my own PC.