generated design and visually pleasing things

IE7 Beta: From the users point of view 2006-02-02

!/media/img/IE7-logo.png(IE7 Logo)!
On January 31st, Microsoft made available the Beta 1 Preview of Internet Explorer 7, the web browser that’s going to be shipped with future Windows Vista and will become available for Windows XP / Windows 2003 Server. No Windows 2000 support.

Reason enough to have a first glimpse at what users, web developers, and system administrators will have to deal with for the next 5 years – assuming it will be taken care of as much as IE6 ;)

This is the first article in a series of 3 articles, this time looking at IE7 from the user’s point of view.

h3. Changes in look and feel

The first time you start up IE7 you will notice its new look and that a lot of changes were made. Buttons are shiny and look Windows Vista-like. Some were moved, some disappeared. Here and there are even new ones.

IE6 IE7 interface comparison

Most obvious changes in IE7 interface:

# shiny Vista-like buttons

  1. menu bar moved down, making navigation is the top-most
  2. stop and refresh have moved to the left of address-bar
  3. there is no more “Go” button
  4. a search box
  5. finally there are tabs
  6. “Quick tabs” provide an overview with small previews of all opened tabs
  7. buttons and support for RSS feeds
  1. a zoom that will do what is says, zoom the complete page – still, it is not possible to change the text-size if it was defined as absolute value by the author

Quick tabs in IE7

h6. One of the few really “new” features: Quick tabs provide a smal preview of open tabs

Now that’s not little that has changed or is “new”. It seems that the IE7 development crew has really tried to improve IE (which was not that hard then) and the overall user experience.
Most ideas were simply (and finally!) copied (tabs, search box, zoom, feeds, ...) from other browsers, such as Firefox or Opera.

h3. Notes to myself

* Moving the navigation bar to the very top makes sense to me, as the back/forward buttons are the very first elements now (they are the most often used ones).

  • Splitting up the refesh + stop button from the back/forward navigation seems a bit over-eager and seperates IE from most (if not all) other browsers and makes people need to look for those elements when they’re not where they’ve been ever since.
  • as I personally don’t miss the “Go” button, people like my mom or my girl friend’s mom will and get confused and give me a call.

!/media/img/IE7-tabs.png(IE7 tabs)!

* putting the “new tab” button right next to the closing button of an existing tab does not seem right to me, you might unintentionally hit the wrong button

  • the stop button is too small and hard to hit when you move quickly (you normally do when you want to keep a page from loading, don’t you?) where is the option to have large icons, anyway?
  • Opening links in tabs (click + ctrl) didn’t work for me. Should and will likely be fixed till the final release
  • Opening and closing a couple or many tabs seems quite slow – especially the closing takes long
  • using the Mozilla/Firefox feed button is a good idea
  • mouse gestures would help
  • feeds of drupal powered sites (like this one) are not shown. Will find out whose fault this is, but I tend to think it’s IE7’s

h3. Conclusion (of part 1)

The new interface and features of E7 is in no way revolutionary or anything close but the dev crew has tried and I’d say managed to catch up some of the years of resting on the laurels (people with 95% monopoly market share don’t seem to need to work anymore) at Microsoft by simply looking very close at the competition.

If I really had to chose between IE 6 and IE 7, I’d give IE 7 the advantage.
If any other browsers were to chose from, I’d moste likely go with Firefox, even if I can’t install it, there still is “portable Firefox”:http://portablefirefox.mozdev.org/.

Once IE7 is released, Firefox and other alternative browsers will have a harder time making people switch – at least from the user experience point of view. Security is a different story (part 3).

Comping up next:

* IE7 and web developers: finally becoming friends?

  • IE7 and security: still a classical oxymoron?


Steve sagt: 08.05.2006

I’ve used firefox for ages now and would never go back to IE. Security is the big one for me. How long did it take for microsoft to implement tabbed browsing? They’re stubborn beyond belief.

Dominic sagt: 11.05.2006

Steve, I’m with you. I’m not interested in going back to a browser that gets updated only once in a couple of years. And the people behind Firefox are doing pretty good work.