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Next generation browsers: IE 7 & Firefox 2.0.

by Zeid Nasser Both sides of the Internet browser world are undergoing a shift into the next generation. Microsoft and the Mozilla foundation are launching new versions of the Internet browsers which serve over 95 percent of the world's users- the remaining 5 percent are Apple Safari, Opera and Netscape Navigator users.Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) is Microsoft's great new hope, or at least users were hoping it would be! The browser has not received a completely new version since the millennium. All we've had are updates, fixes and some new features. Why Microsoft took so much time is not clear, but the weight of expectation in itself is already contributing to the disappointment of users and critics. IE 7 requires that Windows XP users upgrade to XP SP2 (Service Pack 2), and focuses on security features that, obviously, are related to the security provided by the underlying operating system. Critics are saying that the XP version of IE 7 is not that much more secure than IE 6, in part because of its reuse of old IE 6 code.Until Windows Vista arrives in 2007, IE7 will not be immune to security breaches caused by the current flaw-ridden, hole-punctured Windows XP.Moving away from security, there are many other functionality features in IE7 that will please users.There's a redesigned user interface, tabbed browsing, a built-in RSS feed reader and a new Favorites Center. A unique feature in IE 7 is the RSS feed engine, that renders web feeds as a readable page, and a reboot installs this engine in the system kernel. Built in RSS reading is now necessary, as Opera includes a newsgroups-like RSS reader, while Firefox allows you to associate RSS feeds with third-party readers.IE 7 can be downloaded free from Microsoft's website, but beware that part of completing the installation is allowing Microsoft to scan your PC for unlicensed products. This is part of the Microsoft Genuine Advantage program, by which the company's new policy is to offer free products or upgrades based on user's owning legitimate copies of the non-free products; like the Windows operating system or Office suite. What happens if you agree to a 'license check' and you've got unlicensed software? Probably nothing, other than the fact that Microsoft will know what you've got. Will Microsoft have the time to review the license data of every one of the tens of millions of home or small office users? Doubtful, but you never know!For now, many software analysts and specialized websites and magazines are recommending that users get Firefox 2.0, and wait for the Windows Vista version of IE7. Although this may seem biased, or anti-Microsoft, the fact is that IE7 for Windows XP only provides marginally better security, and does not deliver other features not available in the new Firefox 2.0.So, Firefox continues to be a worthy competitor and Microsoft continues its quest to re-take its lost market share. What will happen next year is anyone's guess. In the meantime, I recommend you try both IE7 and Firefox 2.0. Whichever best handles the websites that you use everyday should be the one you stick with; at least, until the next updates of Internet browsers emerge. A*zanasser@gmail.comNext generation browsers: IE 7 & Firefox 2.0

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Nov 11, 2006
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