h3. Seven Things To Do When IE7 Is Released
h4. Internet Explorer Upgrade:
Someday soon, Microsoft is going to release “Internet Explorer 7”:http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/, their first major browser upgrade in five years. Those in the internet business have anticipated it for a while now, “discussing”:http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&q=ie7&btnG=Search+News and “scrutinizing”:http://www.builderau.com.au/program/web/soa/A_developers_look_at_IE7/0,339024632,339271080,00.htm it. If you don’t follow the latest internet events, you may wonder what I’m talking about.
Internet Explorer (IE) is the browser with the most market share, about 94% in mid-2004 and slowly descending to about 80% or less today. More information on “browser trends”:http://www.upsdell.com/BrowserNews/stat_trends.htm#browser and “statistics”:http://www.upsdell.com/BrowserNews/stat.htm is available. IE’s strong showing is mainly due to default installation on every new Windows PC, and being the default browser for the AOL service.
p(pullquote2). “…the IE rendering engine runs pretty rough in spots”
However, web designers and developers have long objected that it displays web pages incorrectly, in conflict with the W3C specifications. In other words, the IE rendering engine runs pretty rough in spots, so bad that there’s almost a cottage industry producing and documenting techniques for fixing or “patching” these problems.
The web industry is so interested in IE7 that there are detailed discussions about the smallest details, including whether a particular “bug will be fixed”:http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2006/08/22/712830.aspx, exactly “how IE7 will be released”:http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2006/07/26/678149.aspx, etc.
The good news is that the IE7 “rendering engine fixes all kinds of bugs”:http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2006/08/22/712830.aspx and other things, making it quite a capable browser on par with its competition:
bq. Internet Explorer 7 … includes improvements in performance, stability, security, and application compatibility. Microsoft has also made enhancements to the fit and finish of the user interface, completed CSS platform changes, added language support, ….
On the other hand, many people argue that “catching up”:http://www.robertnyman.com/2006/09/19/ie-7-is-catching-up-good-enough/ is “insufficient”:http://www.456bereastreet.com/archive/200609/ie_7_is_better_but_still_lagging/.
h4. Seven Things To Do:
So, if you use Internet Explorer, here is a list of things to do when IE7 is released:
p(pullquote2). 1. Do nothing. (or Install “IE7”:http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/.)
2. Check out the new interface.
3. Proceed with caution.
4. Enjoy new features.
5. Learn old features.
6. Surf with security.
7. Say goodbye to IE6.
1. *Do nothing.* If your operating system is Windows XP, and you subscribe to the automatic updates feature, IE7 will be distributed as a “high-priority update”. This means that when the final version is released later this year, it may automatically download and upgrade itself for you.
The reason it’s being distributed automatically is the added security improvements, and it will hopefully improve your internet experience greatly.
If your PC doesn’t automatically install it, let’s edit that first step:
1. *Install “IE7”:http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/.* Don’t hesitate. Don’t even think about it. Just do it.
2. *Check out the new interface.* IE7 sports a whole new look and feel. The interface is prettied up and cleaned up:
bq. Simple is good. A redesigned, streamlined interface gives you more of what you need and less of what you don’t. The new look maximizes the area of the screen that displays the webpage.
3. *Proceed with caution.* You may be aware that the ability of IE version 6 and below to render web pages according to the “W3C specification”: was … less than optimal. Again, the good news is that a whole lot of those rendering bugs are fixed with IE7.
The not-so-good news is that millions of web pages were built to overcome those bugs, which will disappear in IE7. So, please realize that some of those pages may look a little funny after you upgrade to IE7. Some things will be too big or too little, or shifted out of place, or even overlap something else.
Don’t worry, web designers are already busy testing and tuning their sites to accommodate, and everything will settle down quickly.
4. *Enjoy new features*, such as:
* *Browser tabs,* which allows you to open multiple sites at once, each in a separate tab of the same browser window. You can also see thumbnail images of all open tabs in a single view.
* *Subscribe* to your favorite sites, including news and blogs. These subscriptions often use a technology called RSS, which means “Really Simple Syndication.”
* *Improved printing* options, including automatically shrinking text for a better fit on a printed page, customizable page layouts, headers and footers, and print space.
* *”Open instant search”* IE7 has a “customizable”:http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2005/09/14/466186.aspx “open search”:http://opensearch.a9.com/ box.
bq. Search the Internet directly from the browser frame using your favorite search provider with the instant search box.
* *More real estate.* The interface elements, called “browser chrome,” includes the menu bar, status bar, and toolbars. These elements are smaller in IE7, leaving more available space for web page content.
5. *Learn old features*, such as:
* *Hover that mouse.* Since most people don’t read the help files, point your mouse at anything you don’t recognize. Don’t click it immediately, but just hover there. In a second or two, a little hint may pop up, telling you what that thing does. (This won’t happen everywhere, but can be helpful.)
* *Learn the keyboard.* It’s time to learn a faster way. You’re wasting time, every time your hand leaves the keyboard to grab the mouse. Learn what the “tab” key does (and the “enter” key, too), and the other keyboard shortcuts.
* *Right click.* A useful tip, almost always. Whenever you don’t know how to do something, or what something does, or how to do something with a particular thing, point at it and right-click that mouse. A menu will pop up, and it will be different depending on whatever you’re pointing at. It’s as if the browser’s trying to anticipate what you might want, even if you don’t know what you want.
*Note:* Current browsers (including IE6) already do this. But many people don’t know, so it’s news to the average person.
6. *Surf with security.* Security is supposed to be a priority in IE7. Hopefully their efforts at making Internet Explorer more secure will “just work.”
Speaking of security, IE7 has a new security feature which tries to alert you of possible phishing sites. The term “phishing” refers to criminals who want to “go fish” for your private information.
7. *Say goodbye to IE6.* And don’t look back.
h3. In the meantime, better browsers are available
Alternatively, you don’t need to wait for IE7 to get a “better browser”:http://browsehappy.com/ now. There are several excellent choices:
* *”Get Firefox”:http://www.mozilla.com/firefox/.*
Lots of good browsers out there. Most of them tuned up their rendering engines a long time ago, and have different features and benefits.
An amusing discussion about browser choices, in the form of a hypothetical “persona” who chooses each browser, tries to answer: “What does your browser reveal about you?”:http://www.terminally-incoherent.com/blog/2006/08/19/what-does-your-browser-reveal-about-your-personality/
Which to choose for now? I “recommend”:http://ie7.com/ “Firefox”:http://www.mozilla.com/firefox/, to everyone who will listen.
There’s a lot of excitement about IE7, and for good reason.
In summary, the situation is fairly simple: IE6 is essentially obsolete, and IE7 is much better. (But other browsers may already be there.)
_This article is © Montgomery 2006. Some rights released with a_ Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.
_Also published at_ “Godbit”:http://godbit.com/article/ie7.