opinion

A Long Awaited Update

Stephen Yagielowicz
Well, I made the switch: it’s been about a week now since I updated my MSIE browser software to its latest incarnation; version 7 – and frankly, I’m not certain that I like it any better than I did version 6…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big MSIE fan, having used it since version 2 hit the market many years ago, and while I always appreciate the added security and functionality that each new version has offered, I’ve always found things that I’ve missed as they are no longer supported or their implementation has changed, or…

For example, I’m not a big fan (at least yet) of tabbed browsing; one of the new features offered in MSIE 7. It’s not that I’ve never used such a feature, since besides MSIE, I also use the latest version of Netscape, Firefox and Opera – at least for visual HTML testing purposes – and those all support tabbed browsing. But the workflow process that I’m comfortable with includes having half a dozen instances of MSIE open in my taskbar, each containing one of the commonly used screens I use for XBIZ as well as one window for my online “control panel” linking in to my various resources. I could still use multiple instances of MSIE, but in an effort to retrain my brain, I’m now going the tabbed route – despite the fact that I keep closing all of my windows when I only mean to close one.

Tabbed browsing also causes a problem for me when posting my daily article discussion threads – a process that requires switching between two windows for multiple copy-and-paste operations: nope, can’t do that, even if the browser wanted to let me use the scripted window control on the message board post page. In this case, I do need to open a second copy of the browser. This isn’t really a big deal because it’s a once-a-day operation, but what other tasks could be similarly hampered: gallery submissions, perhaps? I’ve yet to do any using this browser, but fear this too could require a procedural change.

I’ve also become concerned about how closely this browser is keeping track of me and my surfing habits. We’ve all seen “auto complete” features where you begin typing a certain character string and the browser anticipates your desire based upon your previous entries and tries to help you out by filling in the blanks; but now I’m presented with a list of options that appear more like AOL keywords than anything I’ve actually typed in.

For example, when I begin typing “google.com” into the address bar, the bar drops down and at the top of the list it says “Google Analytics” – a service I use daily, but didn’t want the browser “knowing” that. It took awhile for me to realize what was happening: the list that is appearing in the address bar is an alphabetized page-title list taken from my “favorites” list, so typing in “google.com” also displays every one of my bookmarked pages whose title begins with “G.” Besides being a help, it makes me eye my system ever more suspiciously.

Still, these are small inconveniences compared to the benefits of having added security; integrated RSS feeds (finally!) and a sexy new interface. The biggest benefit, however, is how nice text now looks, thanks to the new ClearType technology that comes bundled with the update. It’s quite pleasing to the eye with most fonts and sizes, although it does seem to make very small fonts (such as the 8pt type I use for credits) a bit harder to read.

I guess that my problem is that I’m slow to adopt change, especially in areas such as my core toolsets and practices. And this leads me into a story that I’ll relate next time, but for now, I’ll leave off by setting it up this way: I’m glad I updated my browser to MSIE 7 – and even more glad that my lovely wife hasn’t yet updated her browser past version 6.

Having said that, I recommend you check out MSIE 7 – it has lots to offer and to like!

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