The IE7 Beta 2 Preview is now available to the masses – http://www.microsoft.com/windows/IE/ie7/ie7betaredirect.mspx. While many of the new features have been available for the last 2 or 3 years in Firefox or Opera it’s good to see the Windows O/S default browser catching up and becoming a much better tool for the average user who would never think of changing from IE.

So – whats new? The list below are the main features (links to Flickr piccies where possible)

  • Tabbed browsing is the biggie. Browse the web in a much more efficient manner. Easy to open new tabs and there’s a nice Quicktabs button that shows all tabs as small screens allowing you to easily pick the one you want.
  • Rendering – much improved. Support for png’s and better css standardisation. My site is looking pretty OK considering it’s IE. Binary Bonsai which has always struggled in IE is looking not too shabby. Pity MSN UK’s website looks shabby – a bit embarrassing.
  • Phishing filter. Will highlight a dubious website and also allows you to check against a list of known phishing sites. Should improve security alongside a pop-up blocker and also a nice tool for checking which add-ons are currently running in IE. This will make it easier for users to remove spurious search toolbars that they have installed over the years.
  • RSS support. Using the now adopted RSS standard icon you can add feeds to IE and then check via a feed view. Great to have this as built into IE instead of having to add a separate program although it’s fairly light on features.
  • Search engine selection. You can now add various search engines – Google, Yahoo, AOL as well as Amazon, EBay and others. Nothing special but good to see Microsoft opening out their software away from MSN defaults.
  • Cleaner interface. Makes for a bigger browsing window.

These features alone should have been added to IE a long time ago. It’s only thanks to the in-roads that Firefox has made that has forced Microsoft to release an updated browser. Thank heavens for competition especially as it’s the majority of users not in the ‘know’ that will benefit most from the final IE7 release.