Microsoft has announced that Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) is being made available in Beta 2 preview form to web developers and IT professionals for compatibility testing. This latest version of the leading browser has a number of welcome new features, including some that could see it gain back some of the ground lost to rivals such as Firefox.
Microsoft has released Internet 7 Explorer Beta 2.
IE7 will be available as a stand-alone product for Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), and an enhanced version will form part of Windows Vista. According to Microsoft, IE7 technology has been designed, and new features added, to focus on three main areas: security, manageability, and ease of use.
It could be argued that some of the new features in IE7 are actually just bug fixes; for example, the enhanced URL parsing – currently a hacker relies on a user clicking on a HTML link containing odd or excessive characters. In the process of parsing the URL, the system’s buffer would overflow and execute the code the hacker wanted to install.
Other features, such as tabbed browsing, a built-in search bar and private data clearing from a single button, appear to be IE7 simply playing catch up with other browsers, such as Mozilla’s Firefox v1.5.
However, some of the new features are very welcome, especially URL display protections. This includes a mandatory address bar in every window, and support for internationalized domain name (IDN) – which prevents bogus websites from using characters in other languages that resemble each other (e.g. ‘a’ in English and ‘a’ in Cyrillic).
Overall IE7 looks like a move in the right direction and does improve security, manageability, and ease of use. It is recommended that IT departments evaluate IE7 Beta 2 as, according to Microsoft, the product will be on general availability from the second half of 2006, and will be embedded in Windows Vista, which is expected around the same time.
Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)