In 2003, Microsoft decided they had won the browser wars by default.
Gone were the days of heady feature-for-feature competition with the likes of
Netscape, which had floundered years before. Internet Explorer 6 was out
and working well, and just about every Windows user in the world was using it or
one of IE's older versions. There were a couple of 'alternative' browsers
for Windows users on the radar like Mozilla and Opera, but nothing even close to
resembling a threat to the mighty IE.
Secure in their domination of the market, Microsoft
announced in March of 2003 that there would be no further standalone development
of Internet Explorer, with any new changes coming from the operating system, not
the browser itself. As you might imagine, this was tempting fate. Shortly
afterwards, a little known spin-off of the Mozilla browser began gaining
accolades and users due to its ease of use and novel (compared to Internet
Explorer at least) set of features. What began as a blip on the radar grew into
a raging Fire(fox), gnawing steadily away at Microsoft's share of the browser
market. The Firefox browser, a spin-off of Mozilla (and thus of
earlier Netscape technology) gained a massive following in a few short
As you can
imagine, this development caused some consternation at the Redmond head offices.
While both IE and Firefox are offered free, Internet Explorer is an integral
part of Microsoft's plans to further integrate multimedia functionality (and
sales) into its operating systems. Also, the perception that Firefox was more
technically advanced than Internet Explorer due to features like tabbed browsing
and its incredibly easy plug in system must have
provoked no end of irritation at Microsoft.
To cut a long story short, the company decided to accelerate the development
of the browser technology it was working on for its upcoming Microsoft Vista
(formerly known as Longhorn) operating system. Now essential features like
tabbed browsing were added and it was announced in February of 2005 that
Internet Explorer 7 would, after all, be released. What was more, the new
browser was going to come out before Windows Vista and be available for other
Microsoft operating systems too. The Windows Vista version of IE 7 would contain
some features not supported by other versions due to the unique make up of the
new operating system however.
We're going to look at the new features which Microsoft plans to bring to the table
With Internet Explorer 7, and examine how the underlying functionality of the browser
has changed to better protect your computer. Internet Explorer has the
distinction of being the browser most targeted by all forms of spyware, malware,
and other nasties, so more security is always good news.