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The Beat Goes On For Internet Explorer: Page 5 of 7

IE7 now joins the bandwagon of browsers that already feature a separate search box on the window, allowing you to add any number of search providers to the list. Webmasters can also get IE to add their Web site or service to this list by calling a client-side JavaScript function, which will cause a prompt to the user asking if they wish to install the new provider. The official list of available search providers on Microsoft's Web site includes Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, Amazon, eBay, and more.

ClearType, now enabled by default in IE7, improves readability on Web pages, especially for users who spend a lot of time browsing or staring at pages with varying font sizes that may not always be conducive to easy reading. Users will recall that ClearType has long been a part of Win XP, but never turned on by default. In a post defending the decision to turn it on, ClearType inventor Bill Hill says, "The decision to turn ClearType on by default in IE is unusual, but was made because solid research over the past few years has shown conclusively that it improves reading--the task at which IE users spend most of their time." He further goes on to say ClearType will be turned on by default in Vista as well.

Options, Options, Options!

Yeah, there are tons of them this time. And mostly you're not going to remember which is where the first couple of times around. Where shall we start? The homepage can have multiple defaults, each one opening in a new tab. So the one-line box from yore now lets you enter any number of URLs (one on each line). When you launch a new browser instance, all of them will open in different tabs. Options for the anti-phishing filter, history eraser, and so on are currently scattered through the tabs, hopefully for cleanup later on. Some options, like the Content Advisor, Certificates, and Auto Complete, haven't changed at all. Parental control is now beyond setting a password and, like the Protected Mode, ties into the UAP in Vista in Build 5308. And remember, you can't set parental controls for an administrator, so don't let your kid be your PC's administrator!

More options have been added to the advanced and zone-wise security tabs this time. While some of these options are easy to understand, others need to be worked on. For instance, the option for Protected Mode in the zone-wise security tab nowhere says what it would do if turned on. Also, some of the options have text next to them either recommending that you set that option or that you don't, but it's not always clear why. Options that require the browser to be restarted are marked clearly with an asterisk and footnote.