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by Mike Zazaian October 19, 2006 - 11:55am, 6 Comments

The useful Quick Tabs feature, new in IE 7

As Windows Vista nears its RTM date on October 25th, Microsoft has finally published the ‘final’ build of Internet Explorer 7.

Even John Lennon would say that Vista has taken the long and winding road leading up to its release to businesses next month. Internet Explorer, which has been in the works since Microsoft began work on Vista (then ‘Longhorn’) in 2002, is finally available in its version 7 incarnate, with a feature set that officially upgrades IE from dismal to respectable.

In addition to tabbed browsing, IE 7 boasts some Firefox-resembling features such as multiple in-browser search engines and built-in RSS support. But Microsoft has done more with IE 7 than simply mimic competitors. An anti-phishing filter, which alerts users when accessing potentially fraudulent sites, was implemented in IE 7 prior to Mozilla’s take on it for Firefox 2. IE 7 also has as neat Quick-tab feature that allows viewing of multiple tabs in thumbnail form right inside the browser. For OS X or Vista users, this is familiar to similar functions that allow users to organize and scroll through open windows on the desktop. It’s definitely one of the star features of the browser, and arguably gives IE 7 a leg-up on Firefox in the overall navigation department.

In the end Microsoft has actually done quite a nice job on IE 7. While the add-ons feature of IE 7 doesn’t hold a candle to Mozilla’s extensions, given some time there should be some pretty interesting add-ons to spice up IE 7’s usability. Mozilla has an advantage in the longevity department, however, as by releasing new Firefox builds every six to eight months or Firefox 8 and Internet Explorer 8 should hit shelves right around the same time in 2011.

Interestingly, the booming success of IE’s rival Mozilla Firefox might actually be responsible for some of the unique innovations that IE7 claims. See, Microsoft? This is why competition is important. Everyone benefits from some healthy rivalry, even those who would otherwise be the inordinately powerful king of the software castle.

IE 7 is currently available for legitimate (ahem) copies of Windows XP with SP2, Windows XP Pro 64-bit edition, or any version of Windows Server 2003. Microsoft was quick to point out that IE 7 comes natively installed on Vista.

[via ars technica]