And finally, what new IE browser would be complete with security upgrades? Among other safety features, this version comes with default-disabled Active-X controls so your computer won't ever download something without your permission unless you tell it to; always-present address bars on every open window so there's no easy way to hide a true page URL; and a neat little color-coding system that warns you if the Web page you're visiting could be a phishing or spoof site.
If you go to a page that is on a third-party list of known phishing sites, the URL bar turns red. In the upcoming version of IE7 that will ship with the new Microsoft Vista operating system, the browser also offers parental controls and an "isolation" setting that prevents anything you do while browsing (inadvertently downloading something evil, for instance) from leaking into any other part of your computer, like your hard drive.
What's not new with IE7 is its compatibility. It still only runs with Windows operating systems (until Vista hits the shelves). IE7 provides no support for Linux or Mac machines. What else is same-old same-old? Security holes. One bug has already been attributed to IE7, and it was found literally hours after its release. However, Microsoft clarifies that the bug is actually in MS Outlook Express when used in conjunction with IE7 (and IE6, incidentally), not in the new browser itself. The bug allows outsiders to read information a user types using the browser.
If you don't download the new IE browser now, and you have your Windows machine set to automatically download updates, you'll be prompted to download IE7 the next time your computer decides to update itself. You can say no to the download if you don't feel like learning all those new tricks.
Firefox 2.0 is not nearly as different from Firefox 1.0 as IE7 is from IE6. Still, Microsoft may have to get right back to the drawing board to catch up with the quick innovations put forth by the smaller, more focused Mozilla team. Mozilla put out three versions of Firefox in the time it took Microsoft to put out one new version of IE.
For more information on IE7, Firefox and related topics, check out the links on the next page.