Internet Explorer 7

I just installed IE 7 on my PC at work, and I thought I’d share my impressions after using it for an hour or two. I was trying to put this review into a “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” theme, but I found out that all I had was bad and ugly and one tiny shred of good. So we’re just going with The Ugly.

Is it just me, or is it the ugliest browser ever made?

Those tabs are HUGENORMOUS, there’s toolbars everywhere, and it’s all this kind of sickly blue color. Those giant jeweled buttons are absolute eyesores, too. Ugh. It’s like MacOS X’s public beta with all life sucked out of it. Garish and depressing.

It doesn’t even look like a regular application. More like some insane WinAmp skin or something. Just bizarre.

And can we talk about the UI? No menu bar, huh? Weird. Sure, you CAN make it show up, but it can’t be at the top of the window like in EVERY OTHER WINDOWS APPLICATION!

Then there’s some weird set of buttons which take up valuable tab space, and I can’t seem to MOVE that toolbar out of the way of my tabs even though there’s a little movey handle next to them (only right and left, bucko!), nor can I make them disappear using my contextual menu… How annoying. (Although I CAN delete all the items from the toolbar by customizing it.)

Bookmarks have been relegated to a strange pop-up tab sidebar thingamajigger. I guess they decided nobody likes bookmarks, because the Links toolbar doesn’t even show up by default. That’s a bad idea. Everyone at work puts ALL their bookmarks into the links toolbar and they’re going to be lost as soon as they upgrade.

If only there were some way to encapsulate all these many commands into a streamlined use of screen space…. Oh, I know, how about using a menu?!

The RSS reader looks like, well, Safari’s RSS reader. I don’t really understand it, either. It doesn’t really AGGREGATE feeds, it just sort of displays ‘em. All of them. Every article. Even ones you’ve read. I don’t get it in Safari either. Still, for what it does, it does it well and is not unpleasant to look at. I’m just not sure why it’s useful.

They’ve added links to categories in the feed, which is a sort of neat idea until you realize that you’d probably get a better experience just reading the site. (John C. Dvorak’s incredibly ugly blog notwithstanding.

The one innovation I can see (well, except that Firefox had it first via an extension) is the ability to see a largish thumbnail of every tab you have open. Unfortunately, since tabs quickly become thin and illegible, thanks to the useless toolbar/menubar replacement widget getting in the way, you’re going to need it. A lot.

Rendering seems pretty good. Still has trouble with pages that push the envelope on whizzy effects (click the images or the About button at the top for examples of what’s wrong, then try the same thing in a better browser), but it generally does well. Pages load snappily and render correctly. Of course, IE could always do that, despite its bugs, thanks to the tireless efforts of web designers throughout the world.

Still no spell checking. Drag. Every web browser should have that now, since every OS has some system-level service to provide it.

Apple’s simple and underfeatured Safari browser manages to beat it out in every respect except for compatability with retarded vertical market web apps (Lotus Notes webmail, I’m looking at you!), and Firefox or OmniWeb make it look positively pathetic. Forget IE 7 vs. Firefox 2.0, compared to Firefox 1.5, IE 7 seems dated (and ugly, did I mention that it’s ugly?).

All in all, I just have to wonder why it took so incredibly long to build this basically mediocre browser. It’s getting excited about features that already exist in basically dead-end browsers like iCab.

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Written on October 20, 2006