Previews of IE 7 available via the Vista (formerly Longhorn) beta show that what we can expect is primarily Firefox Lite. The newest version of IE takes some of Firefox’s better features, but for now doesn’t improve on them, or even always match them.
First and foremost, IE has finally entered the modern world with tabbed browsing. That’s the good news. The bad news is that for now, the tabs have only basic functionality, and don’t have all the bells and whistles of the various extensions that let you customize Firefox tabs. Let’s hope later beta versions fix that.
Something else will look familiar to Firefox fans, a search bar on the upper right that lets you search through various search engines by choosing from a drop-down list. But there doesn’t appear to be any way to add new search engines, or write add-ins of your own, like Firefox lets you do.
IE 7 will feature built-in RSS capabilities. Again, Firefox already does this, via the Sage extension. And IE 7 also has anti-spoofing and anti-phishing features. Firefox has this to a limited degree, and here’s one area where IE 7 might be better.
All in all, the beta doesn’t offer any reason for switching from Firefox, although perhaps the final version will. But it’s great for existing IE users, because it’s a great step forward for the browser. It’s just not Firefox — yet.
What do you think of IE 7 beta?