There's a headline I didn't ever think I was going to write. Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser has always been behind on features - ever since the day it launched in beta in an eventually-successful attempt to crush Netscape Navigator. I hate Internet Explorer and everything it stands for - market monopoly shenanigans, inaccurately designed HTML, and the weakest security on this side of the US/Mexican border, plagued with hacking potential and popups. But now, at least on the Windows platform, the new Internet Explorer 7 is pretty darn good. With their copying of tabs from Mozilla Firefox, and the addition of other new tools, it's definitely giving Firefox a run for its money.
As much as I can, I try to stay on the Apple Mac OS X platform. It just flat out works better, and doesn't try to get in my way. The applications seamlessly work together, and in a secure way. Apple's Safari browser has also grown to the point it doesn't have an equal. But in those rare times (mostly at the office) when I am in front of a Dell Windows PC, there is no Safari, leaving me with two real options: Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft IE.
For the last several years, IE has been a ugly stepchild in the Web browser family, the one you hide in the closet and don't introduce to visitors. Firefox has been first to market with tabbed browsing, browser themes and extensions, enabling Web surfers to "roll their own" experience, and has slowly been taking market share back away from Microsoft - the long-time leader in share, if not in innovation.
But with the recent introduction on Internet Explorer 7, I hate to say it, but I actually like it. Rather than changing the default browser settings on the Windows PC to run Firefox, I've tested the new IE 7 and like some of the settings. The browser's tabbed browsing is good, and a feature called "Quick Tabs" shows all open tabs for simplified navigation. And in contrast to Firefox 2.0, IE loads quickly, renders pages just as accurately (as far as I can tell), and comes with integrated popup blockers, which for years would depend on third-party toolbars from Yahoo!, Google and others. As one installs Firefox extensions and themes, the browser actually gets sluggish, while IE remains light. (See "Is Firefox 2.0 a dud?")
If I want to fight the good fight against Microsoft and avoid all things Redmond, using Firefox is fine, but the gap between the two browsers has been closed in a significant way. If you've sworn off IE forever, give IE 7 a spin and see if Microsoft can change your mind.
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