Internet Explorer 7 RC1 Review & Open Search

Microsoft Corporation recently released Internet Explorer 7 Release Candidate 1, and despite what some people are claiming, it does have some major changes since Beta 3, you just have to know where to look. Microsoft flamers beware, IE7 RC1 brings to the table a major change that’ll certainly put a lot of the more common complaints/rantings to rest. We may be late in reviewing Internet Explorer 7, but all the details (and screenshots!) are here.

Don’t get us wrong, Internet Explorer 7 is not perfect, for instance the DIV rounding error is still there, and IE7 still doesn’t have input:focus CSS support, but it’s definitely shaping up great. Quick tabs still use the same dirty JPEG low-res captures, and we’re sorry to report that the nasty Windows 95 Import/Export wizard hasn’t changed, but besides that it’s shaping up.

Improved Install Routine

One of the biggest issues with all the previous standalone builds of Internet Explorer is that they took a long time to install, anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour if you selected to install the malicious software removal tool. But with RC1, it seems to have finally shaped up properly into a real product ready for the real world. Besides the faster installs, IE7 comes with a much-needed “previous version recovery tool” that automatically removes previous or even corrupt versions of older IE6 and IE7 installs – a headache cured.

Slightly Refined Interface

As any product approaches RTM, visible changes are almost guaranteed to come to a stand-still. IE7 isn’t yet RTM, but it’s close. Visual changes are few, but the final effect is quite pleasing. One much-requested change was the ability to unlock the various in-built toolbars; something that was one of the biggest sources of contempt in the original alpha builds. There are a couple of new icons, but for the most part the interface has stayed the same.

Open Search

This is the biggest change, the most important one that has actually gone unseen thus far. Head over to (middle-click please!) and take a really close look at your search bar. See that orange highlight and the drop-down list entries? That’s something that Firefox is planning on adding for Firefox 2.0; and Internet Explorer 7 has apparently joined the club. It’s called OpenSearch and it’s an open implementation for adding search engines on the fly to the browsers search engine provider list.

Google doesn’t need to cry, and Yahoo! doesn’t really need to ship it’s own “souped up” version of IE; with OpenSearch all a website or company needs to do is add a little bit of code to their site, and they can get their users to search their site without bothering with possibly virus-ridden downloads are hefty registry hacks. It just works.

How do you add OpenSearch to your site? It couldn’t be easier… Look at the page source and you shouldn’t have a problem figuring it out, but here’s a hint:

<link href="" rel="search" />
<link title="El Reg search" href="" type="application/opensearchdescription+xml" rel="search" />

Basically, a bit of code in the header calls on a traditional RDF Feed in RSS or Atom format, that outlines the ‘steps’ a browser needs to take in order to query the server, which then returns the results as a second RDF that can be parsed in any way the client browser prefers.

This isn’t OpenSearch 101, and it’s a bit more complicated than it looks, but OpenSearch is without a doubt going to be a valuable step in the current information-based presentation of the web, and truth be told, Internet Explorer had us shocked. (End users can add a number of OpenSearch profiles to their browser at

When you say Firefox has OpenSearch support, it’s good. But not much more than that; after all, “officially speaking” Firefox isn’t supposed to be a money-making endeavor, and it doesn’t necessarily have to use Google as its default search engine. But with Internet Explorer, the only reason that Microsoft even makes a browser to go along with their operating system in the first place is just for the on-going revenue it generates along with it’s ad-driven search engine defaults. Google went as far as to file lawsuits against Microsoft for not shipping Google as the default search engine in IE!! (Well, close to that, but that’s the gist of it)

Besides the obvious facts that OpenSearch is Microsoft stepping in a more ‘friendly’ direction, it could mean a lot for Microsoft’s upcoming Vista release. It may be too late for that, then again it may not be – no one really knows; but either way, Internet Explorer 7 is going to be great.

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  • 6 thoughts on “Internet Explorer 7 RC1 Review & Open Search

    1. Thanks for the feedback. A couple points.

      First, you’ll be happy to know that the Import/Export dialog graphic has been updated. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s not the embarrasing Win95 era version that was there before.

      Second, the OpenSearch integration has been in IE7 since Beta 2 released last February. In fact, we worked with Amazon’s A9 team to develop the additions to their OpenSearch RSS description format necessary to make it work as a generic search description format. Below is a link to a blog post about that process:

      So, it’s more accurate to say that Firefox is the one joining the party. πŸ™‚

      Interestingly, Mozilla has introduced an new “simplified” but incompatible version of the OpenSearch format dubbed “MozSearch” (link to details below). It is advertised using exactly the same autodiscovery mechanism as OpenSearch, meaning that non-Firefox browsers will all think that an OpenSearch format is present, and then fail when it turns out to be the MozSearch format instead.

      Not sure why didn’t work with A9 to make it part of the standard, but I’m sure they had good reasons. *shrug*

    2. Huh, that’s interesting.
      Thanks for those links… surprising though, it’s nice to see IE7 being the one supporting open standards, and certainly is a shock to see that Firefox isn’t playing nice….

      So they actually ripped the idea of OpenSearch and “spoiled” it for the rest??

      I had no idea the IE7 team was responsible in part for the creation of the original OpenSearch standard, and I also had no idea this feature was complete since Beta 2…. Congratulations though! πŸ˜‰

    3. One thing i’d like to see changed in IE7 before it gets released officially.. is a replacement for that ugly looking button you get when you middle click to scroll up/down a page. I noticed it changed slighty from IE6, I can’t remember if it looked better than before or not.. what i do know is that is still damn ugly/blocky.. I mean just have a look at the firefox icon.. its got a smooth circle edge, and its “t r a n s p a r e n t ” which makes it look ” n i c e r “… ok.. its not a lot to ask I hope, but as I still use the IE7 engine through Maxthon(awesome browser) I’d like to see that change.

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