Is it Firefox? Is it Opera? No, it’s Internet Explorer 7 beta

At the CES 2006 show in Las Vegas, Microsoft paraded the beta version of their upcoming IE7. It hasn’t gone unnoticed (e.g. in this semi-literate Enquirer article) that IE7 largely emulates the user interface found in Firefox.

IE7 even, to an extent, emulates the mighty Opera – mighty secure, that is.

Tabbed browsing is of course the big “me, too!” feature in IE7, something that IE users have been hankering after for years.

Enhanced security should be the big feature, although it seems to have received a muted response from an oft-bitten world. While the UI enhancements are highly visible, we can only take MS’s word for it that the new version will be more secure. The proof will be when the number of vicious exploits suddenly drops to near-zero.

So, IE7’s main feature (for now at least) is its cleaner, more usable UI, almost a straight clone of the proven and headline-grabbing Firefox UI.

It’s easy to criticize MS for copying successful UIs and for not introducing innovation of their own. And yet, IE7 includes a major innovation, and an incredibly simple one at that. It’s an innovation which could finally see an important web technology really hit the mainstream, revolutionizing the way that “common users” use the web. More about this tomorrow… (Don’t ya just love cliffhanger endings..?)

About the Author

Matt Stephens is a senior architect, programmer and project leader based in Central London. He co-wrote Agile Development with ICONIX Process, Extreme Programming Refactored, and Use Case Driven Object Modeling with UML - Theory and Practice.