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January 31, 2006

Microsoft Unveils IE 7 Public Beta



Courtesy of TechWeb News

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Microsoft on Tuesday released the first generally-available beta for Internet Explorer 7, as well as Windows RSS Platform, a for-developers set of APIs for creating RSS-enabled applications.

IE 7 has been in beta testing since July 2005, but except for a leak two weeks ago, the numbers of testers have been limited. "The Beta 2 Preview is feature complete," said Gary Schare, director of IE product management. "It's targeted at developers and tech enthusiasts who want to see how their applications and Web sites work with it." Microsoft, however, recommended that consumers wait until Beta 2 appears "in the next couple of months" before switching to the new edition.

The major additions and enhancements to IE 7 have been widely discussed by Microsoft's development team on its blog, so there were no real surprises. Like rival Firefox, IE 7 offers tabbed browsing, includes a search box in the toolbar, saves and opens multiple tabs, and displays RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feeds within the browser.

It also sports a redesigned and streamlined interface, shrink-to-fit printing, and a feature dubbed "Quick Tabs," a thumbnail-based navigation aid.

But it is security that IE 7 stresses, said Schare, acknowledging the criticism leveled at the browser, which saw a near-monthly run of patches during 2005. According to Danish vulnerability tracker Secunia, IE 6.0 had 17 vulnerabilities last year.

"Our key focus was coming up with technology to help protect users from technology attacks, attacks on the software itself," said Schare. That includes new cross-scripting, international domain spoofing, and ActiveX defenses that Microsoft says will better protect users against some of the most common exploits. And in an attempt to stem future attacks, some of the browser's code has been redone.

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