Thoughts on Internet Explorer 7

I’m one of many web developers out there that run Windows and have downloaded and installed the Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 build (as well as the other CTP builds).

Honestly, I don’t use a lot of the new features that have been included in IE7. But there is one feature that I’m loving, and using quite a lot right now.

That feature is the Page Zoom Level feature.

Sure, all modern browsers (IE6/Firefox) have their text-size adjustment options, but only IE7 and Opera have a page zooming option. I’m finding the feature quite useful for certain websites out there that have set their text size to a fixed, non-adjustable size. Especially when reading for long periods of time.

Sure, cleartype helps, but it can only help to a certain extent.

It might be different for some people who probably have better eyesight than myself (i’m long sighted, so seeing things up close isn’t as clear as things a bit further away.).

On tabs, sure, I use them, but that’s one of many features that I could live without if it weren’t there.

RSS? I’ve subscribed to a few feeds to see how the feature works. Overall, I think I could live without that feature too. I prefer reading my feeds all in the one place. And that place at the moment (and has been for quite awhile now) is BlogLines. (Though, BlogLines seems quite sluggish in IE7 for some reason.)

There’s also the minor annoyance of some websites’ JavaScript being not up to scratch for their menus. But I can live with that.

Improved CSS? Well, from a developers’ point of view, I reckon that’s cool. But as an end user? I’d not care too much, as long as I can read what I need to. And get what I want from the website without too much trouble.

Sometimes we (the alphageeks of this planet :P) can get so caught up discussing features of a product (where it excels, where it fails etc) that we often forget that all the end user wants is to be able to read the content that they want.

Somedays I’ve watched my father (who is in his eary 60’s) use a computer i’ve setup for him to use. He surfs the web to read his Chinese news from various news outlets, as well as making use of email to communicate with some of his former classmates whom he hasn’t seen in almost 40 years. And if he can find some streaming audio news, he’ll stream it. He’s still fairly new to computers, but he’s gotten a grasp of some things quite quickly.

He’ll still ask for help from either my brother or me when he needs it. I’ve installed the Google Toolbar for him, but he’s now started typing in URLs for websites in the Google Toolbar search box, rather than the IE addressbar! But hey, it works. And it also helps him when he doesn’t know the exact URL. It’ll just bring up results that are closeto what he wants and he’ll just click away.

When I had one of the old 15″ CRT monitors setup for him, he’d often move his head closer to the screen to read text on a website. I recently replaced the 15″ with a 17″ CRT and kept the resolution the same (1024×768), which has made somewhat of an improvement. One of the issues dad has is some websites restrict the text-size to just the one size. (I know, I could always switch the screen resolution from 1024×768 to 800×600. But I didn’t want to change everything else dad was happy with.)

Overall, despite sometimes using a bit too much memory, I’m fairly happy with IE7. Actually, I’m happy with all browsers. They all have their own strongpoints, and you use which you feel most comfortable with.

I’ve used Opera, IE4 to IE7, various builds of Firefox (since I think the Phoenix v0.6 days). I used Netscape Communicator in it’s day.

I think the memory issues i’m seeing with IE7 are related to JavaScript code, as whenever I see the browser with a fair chunk of memory allocated to it, it’s usually when I’m at websites that utilise JavaScript quite heavily (such as BlogLines). Flickr seems fine for the most part, as does GMail.

Google Calendar refuses to work though. It says my browser doesn’t meet the minimum requirements. (Requirements state that as far as IE is concerned I need IE6+. 6 is higher than 7, right? 😛 — Just joking around with the last comment.)