Caution to the Wind – Internet Explorer 7

Microsoft released Internet Explorer for Windows XP on October 18th. Time to venture forward on The OS Quest and install it. So, brewed a pot of coffee, added a little extra, and went for it. I ran Microsoft Update and found that IE wasn’t available there (and also that I already had all updates MS says I need). Microsoft websites says they’ll start distribution through Windows Update on November 1st. So out to the MS website to download IE 7. It’s a 14.8MB download. I run the downloaded file. The first screen recommends shutting of anti-virus and anti-spyware utilities. I do neither. I’m running Avast anti-virus and Microsoft Defender for anti-spyware. Then the installer validates my copy of Windows XP. I pass. Yipee!!! The install log even showed that I clicked the link to read the privacy statement for the Windows validation. Then I’m asked if I want to get the latest updates and run the malicious software removal tool. It’s one question, all or nothing. I agree, but don’t expect any updates as I had just checked and none were available. Then it starts displaying progress messages as the actual install starts. The first phase is to download updates and install them. The message is not specific as to what’s being done. In looking through the install log I see that it downloaded the ‘Network Diagnostic Tool (KB914440)’ as a pre-IE7 update. The logs also should a warning in this phase, although it doesn’t seem to be a problem. The log entry was “5:45.766: WARNING: WindowsUpdate>>EXCPT: Exceptions encountered while searching for updates”. The log also shows that a newer version of the malicious software removal tool was downloaded and run. The log shows the exit code for the MSRT was 0 but I don’t know what would be shown if it had found anything. Then the Internet Explorer “Core Components” are installed. The log shows various executables being run. Once these complete a reboot is requested. There is an option to postpone. I reboot immediately. All this is logged and the log ends with the reboot. After the reboot I fire up IE 7. I’m presented with a settings screen. The only required setting is for the search engine. It remembered that I used google. I can chose to keep it or pick a new one. What’s interesting is if I say to pick a new one I don’t know what I have to chose from until the next screen. I keep Google, it can always be changed later. The remaining settings are:

  • Automatic Phishing Filter which is off by default. I turn it on.
  • See Web Pages Clearly which is off by default. I turn it on. This is cleartype. The description says I can use the Cleartype Tuner to optimize the display. When I clink the tuner link it brings me to a web page to download and install. Seems to me it should already be part of the installation. I cancel and go back to the settings page.
  • It wants my location and language and is prefilled with “English (United States)” which is correct.
  • It asks if I want to be part of the “Customer Experience Improvement Program” which I decline. It claims to only send anonymous information to Microsoft. Considering their privacy policy says they can change it anytime, and their past history of not disclosing what they’re doing to collection information joining won’t give me anything and can only cause problems.

I save these settings. I’m then presented with a screen asking if I want to view a tour on IE 7, download add-ins or start browsing. I take the tour. It’s nothing more than a few screens. It mentions tabbed browsing, the “Favorites Center”, RSS Feeds and Security. It’s lacking in detail. I then go to the Add-ins. I was surprised on how many of the available downloads cost money. Many were free but many were from third parties and many of those had a cost associated. I’m used to Firefox where the extensions are free (at least the ones available from the Firefox site). I don’t install any add-ins. I shut down and restart IE and it displays the same homepage I had used in IE 6.

I imported my favorites from Firefox using the import feature in IE. (Firefox favorites are in Documents and SettingsYourIDApplication DataMozillaFirefoxProfilesProfileNamebookmarks.html)

IE includes menu items to import cookies and feeds but neither of these can be imported from Firefox. I ran Microsoft Update. IE was released two days ago and there weren’t any updates, I’ll withhold comment on the user interface as it is different and I should use it before passing judgment. But some observations.

  • The menu is off by default. To display it press the key. It can be permanently display by changing the configuration. It also takes getting used to the menu not being at the top of the window. Instead the address bar is at the top and the menu displays below it. I don’t see anyway to change this.
  • Tabbed browsing is available. One difference between IE and Firefox is there’s a button to create a new tab right next to the tabs themselves. This seems a just a small bit easier for people using the mouse as it’s seems a bit easier to zero in and click it.
  • There’s a “Favorites Center” which puts Favorites, Feeds and history in one sidebar. Seems like a good idea if you have the screen real estate to pin the sidebar so it’s always open. But if you lack the real estate I would think it would be cumbersome unless you always display the menu.

I haven’t come across anything that would cause me to replace Firefox as my primary browser. At least the tabbed browsing makes it bearable to use. I decided to use IE7 to do my web browsing for the next day or so. Here’s a couple observations:

  • I went to one site that wanted Flash Player 9. It popped up a box asking of I wanted to install. I said yes, it seemed to install as a quick progress bar displayed, but no picture. I hit refresh and it wanted to install again. So I went to the same site I used to trigger the install under Firefox. In this case a pop up appeared before it displayed the site. It said Flash was needed and asked if I wanted to install. I did and the site soon displayed with Flash installed. Back to the first site and it was also using Flash now, not asking for an install.
  • Clicking on “New” to create a new Doc in Google docs and then trying to change the title results in a message “This website is using a scripted window to ask you for information. If you trust this website , click here to allow scripted windows.” I clicked there and my only choice was to temporarily allow, which I did. I then clicked the Title again and changed it.