While computer users are watching the slow release of builds of Windows Vista (which Microsoft calls the Community Technology Preview, or CTP), part of that anticipation includes the first new version Internet Explorer in several years. The latest widely distributed version of Windows Vista, build 5231, also known as the October CTP, is significant primarily because of the new features it delivers in Internet Explorer 7. (You can also read Scot's latest review of this version of Vista.)
Internet Explorer 7 First Impressions
We first looked at IE 7 in August, 2005, where we reviewed Beta 1 of IE 7 for Windows XP (which, except for some of the security functionality, is supposed to be nearly identical to the Vista version). Among the features we surveyed were two major additions: tabbed browsing and RSS features. Both the appearance and the functionality of those two features are upgraded in this version of IE 7.
Microsoft has added to its tabbed-browsing functionality with a thumbnail-tab overview feature called Quick Tabs, the ability to save and reopen sets of tabs known as Tabbed Groups, and a small new tabbed-browsing configuration dialog in Internet Options.
Quick Tabs is the most interesting of the new features. Although earlier Web browsers or plug-ins have offered something similar to this before, it's a first for Internet Explorer. Once you have two or more tabs open, an icon appears on the tabs bar, which, when clicked, replaces the Web page window with small thumbnail views for each of the Web pages you have open in tabs. It's very easy to click on any thumbnail to open a tabbed page or to delete it by clicking the close box in the thumbnail's upper right corner.
The new Quick Tabs feature in IE 7 promises to be one of the biggest productivity boosters in the new Microsoft Web browser. (Click for complete image.)