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Microsoft Takes IE 7 To RC1, Firefox 2.0 Slips

Microsoft Corp. on Thursday unveiled Internet Explorer 7 Release Candidate 1 (RC1), the last version the company expects to hand out before the new browser goes final later this year.

Although users familiar with the most recent beta of IE 7 won't see many visible changes to the browser, under-the-hood performance gains should be immediately noticeable, said Margaret Cobb, group product manager for IE.

"Users should definitely see a difference in performance," said Cobb. "We've done a lot of work on performance, fit and finish, and site rendering [since Beta 3]."

Other changes to the browser include the completion of changes to IE CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) support, additional language selections, and an auto-uninstall feature in RC1's setup that automatically removes earlier betas (betas formerly required users to manually uninstall older versions of IE 7 before installing the newest).

On Tuesday, Markus Mielke, one of the IE 7 program managers, admitted in a blog that the browser was "a stepping stone in our effort to improve our standards compliance, especially around CSS." In the past, Microsoft has taken heat from Web site designers for bugs in Internet Explorer's support for CSS, and for the Redmond, Wash. developer's hesitancy in supporting the newest version of the standard.

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