Steve Reynolds, program manager of the Microsoft [[MSFT]] Internet Explorer development team, has just announced an “update” of sorts to Internet Explorer 7 a year or so after its original release in 2006. Never mind the fact that we were promised regular updates and that “Internet Explorer 7 won’t be like IE6” with regards to lack of new features and updates, what’s up with the list of the things that have changed with this new version!? Have a look for yourself at the “changelog:”
- No need for WGA verification in order to get Internet Explorer 7
- The menu bar is now visible by default.
- The Internet Explorer 7 online tour has updated how-to’s. Also, the “first-run” experience includes a new overview.
- We’ve included a new MSI installer that simplifies deployment for IT administrators in enterprises. Learn more about it here.
Interesting… Here’s our take on these “updates”
- It really shouldn’t have required WGA in the first place – Microsoft (for some odd reason) guarantees users of pirated versions of Windows “immediate” access to any security-related patches, upgrades, and hotfixes. Doesn’t Microsoft tout Internet Explorer 7 as a security-prioritized upgrade?
- Noooo! We love the hidden menu bar! It’s clean, it’s clutter-free, and it gives IE7 a great look. Obviously the reason they’ve put it back is that users had trouble getting the menu to show (hint: press `alt` to make it appear), but who actually uses the menu bar anyway?! At least make it a first-run option… please? Sure, you can make it hidden again by flicking a switch in the options panel, but that’s just so wrong on so many levels…
- Not exactly what we’d call an upgrade to Internet Explorer itself so much as it is an improvement to the external documentation. It’s just a file hosted on MS servers that users can opt to view.
- Nothing more than an upgrade to the packaging/deployment for Internet Explorer 7, albeit a most-welcome one for sysadmins and software integrators everywhere.
Not to harp on the Internet Explorer 7 team or anything; but it’s been a year, and we were hoping for something a bit more substantial of an upgrade. Maybe Internet Explorer 7.1 with even more improvements to CSS handling, performance enhancements on Vista, ((In our testing, IE7 on Windows XP after > 3 months of usage verses the same on Vista was more responsive by a factor of 3 or 4 times, especially on opening and closing of new tabs!)) inline auto-complete that actually remembers all the URIs you visited, ((Internet Explorer 7 notoriously “forgets” > 50% of the URIs you’ve visited. Start typing in the address bar and you’ll realize that auto-complete doesn’t even display half of the matching URIs that are in your browser history even for that same day, with no rhyme or reason to this behavior.)) fixing the sensitive HTML parser that many times loads a page just, then errors out with a message-box saying “Internet Explorer cannot display this page.” – replacing the perfectly good HTML render with an error page, or one of the many other minor bugs that could be easily patched and would make for great changelog entries.
We could’ve done with a couple of new features as well, just something to satiate our hunger for some innovation and improvements until the Internet Explorer 8 beta comes along – nothing big, just something to keep us busy until we get something real to play with. But still, we’ll take bugfixes and performance enhancements over new features any day – it’s too bad we don’t have either with this “upgrade.”
So, yeah, Internet Explorer 7 is, overall (and especially on Windows XP because Vista IE7 performance just plain sucks), a great browser. But it’s been a year! The last time we saw this general lack of improvement/enhancement/updates was with IE6, and there is no need to remind anyone just how quickly IE6 became dead on its feet. Please Microsoft, don’t make the mistake again! Vista SP1 is on its way – what better an opportunity could one ask for to patch up IE7 and wrap it in a new & shiny build number for your users to enjoy?