I’m going to rant and rave (mostly rant) about Internet Explorer 7, which was released recently. I know that betas have been available for ages, but I think the release versions of IE are insecure enough.
Just for reference, even if Microsoft did fix all the things I’m complaining about I still wouldn’t switch from Firefox. Also, I’m being nitpicky. If I was forced with a red hot spork, I could probably come to tolerate using IE7, at least moreso than IE6.
Ok, first thoughts: it’s ooglay. The interface doesn’t take up any more room than it does in Firefox, but it just draws my attention right to it. The menu bar is off by default, which bothers me. It breaks my expectations of how a browser should behave. Even when I turn it on, I can’t manage to make it go above the navigation bar! It appears that browsing must be my top priority, and making IE work how I want is secondary.
The navigation bar Is another issue. Back, Forward, Refresh, Stop, Home, Address, Go. These are the things that live on my navigation bar, at the very least. They belong in that order. IE7 puts refresh and stop after the address bar, and moves home to a totally separate area. More on that later. The forward and back buttons are where I expect them to be (approximately) and are very pretty, but they just seem sort of lonely.
Actually, after a bit of poking I can’t seem to affect the navigation bar at all, aside from changing which search engine it uses. It is so merged with the title bar that right clicking in empty space on the navigation bar actually gives the same menu as right clicking the title bar! That would explain why I can’t wedge anything in between them. It’s got the basics, and as I say it is pretty, but not being able to change it frustrates me.
My last issue is with the tab bar. First off, it’s always there. If I’m only viewing one tab I don’t need you to show which tab I’m on. If I need another tab, I’ll be sure to ask for one, thankyoueversokindly. The reason that you can’t feasibly get rid of the tab bar is that there’s a “command bar” on the right side of it. This contains all those buttons that used to live along side the navigation buttons in IE6, when the address bar lived on its own line. I don’t really like them there, because I tend to have loads of tabs open, but given the layout they’re going with I don’t see a better place to put them.
Ok, I’m done griping. There are some good things going on here, too. For one, Microsoft is finally adding a lot of features that power users have had for years. Kudos! This isn’t going to change the browsing paradigm overnight, but when users can efficiently manage five or six websites at the same time, it will change the way they use them.
The feed reader is basically beautiful. I don’t know how it fares on the technical side of things, but from my end it is nice to look at, easy to use, and effective. I recognize that this is excluded from Firefox as a matter of policy, and there are feed reader plugins, but it is still very nice.
Also nice is the anti-phishing scanner. This is a new feature for IE7 and FF2.0, to protect users from fraudulent websites. If you practice careful browsing it won’t offer much change, but it’s nice to see both browsers keeping an eye out on the oft-overlooked security threat of social engineering.
So I hate the new interface, but I gotta tip my hat to the IE team. Overall, it was a substantial improvement. Sure, it was a lot of catch-up, but at least they’re recognizing what users want.
No, this doesn’t mean that I’ll be switching over to use IE.