SANDY BERGER: New Internet Version Is Great Improvement
If you are using Windows XP, in the next few weeks when the Microsoft automatic Windows update appears on your computer, you will be asked if you want to upgrade your browser to the newly released Internet Explorer 7.
It's great that Microsoft is giving us a choice rather than installing the new browser automatically. However, questions like these are always difficult for the average user.
Yet with this question, you don't have to hesitate to answer "yes" because the new Internet Explorer (version 7) is a great improvement over previous versions. I have been using it as part of beta testing for the last six months with no issues. I love its many new features.
While the toolbar has been simplified and some buttons have moved to new locations, you will find that the move to the new version is pretty intuitive. So you can continue to browse the Internet with minimal additional effort.
In fact, any effort you need to exert to learn how to use this new browser is more than worthwhile because it has some extremely useful features that make Internet surfing easier and more fun.
First and foremost is the fact that Microsoft has added tabbed browsing. While other browsers such as Firefox and Opera have had these for years, this is a new addition for Internet Explorer. Tabbed browsing allows you to open a new Web page in a tab rather than a new window. So you can have several Web pages open at once, and you can switch from one to another easily. You will see all of the tabs across the top of the browser with the Web page name or part of it on the tab.
With tabbed browsing, you can have your favorite newspaper (www.thepilot.com) open right next to the weather, your favorite financial Web site, and your favorite computer help Web site (www.compukiss.com).
Click on the small icon to the left of the tabs, and you can see each open Web page as a thumbnail. Click on the arrow next to the icon and you get a text list of the open Web pages. You can close any open Web page by clicking on the red x on its tab.
The ability to view and to print Web pages has also been improved in Internet Explorer 7 (IE 7).
In Internet Explorer 6, you are able to change the size of the text, but often that change made the whole Web page look askew because the size of the graphics was not increased. Not so with IE 7. Just look in the lower right hand corner of the IE 7 screen for the magnifying glass.
You can click on the magnifying glass to make the entire Web page, including the graphics, larger. This lets you adjust the size while keeping everything in proportion -- a boon to aging eyes and those with vision problems.
Printing functionality in IE 7 has also been greatly improved. Remember how, when you tried to print a Web page, the right side was cut off or you wasted paper as a second page would print out with only a line or two on it?
Well, IE 7 has solved those problems with a feature that automatically shrinks the Web page content to fit the printed page. This does not necessarily work with Web pages that have been poorly formatted, but it does work well for most Web pages. Also there are many other printing options including adjustable margins, customizable page layouts, and removable headers and footers.
IE 7 also has a search box that can be customized to use your favorite search engine. So you can perform a Google, MSN, Ask or Yahoo! search without having to navigate to the search engine's home page first.
Just to the left side of the magnifying glass on the bottom bar of the screen, Microsoft has also added a security bar. This lets you change your security settings without sifting through menus.
Also included is an icon that you can use to check whether the Web site you are visiting is a bogus site known for phishing. Microsoft has also added other security enhancements, and it is worth upgrading just to get a more secure browser.
The only time you might not want to upgrade is if you are using a specialized Web software program. This caution will apply most to corporations and Web developers who need to make sure that the customized or specialized software they are using will work with this new version.
For the rest of you, take the jump. Internet Explorer 7 is stable. It's chock full of new features. And it's FREE.
Sandy Berger welcomes all of your comments and questions on today's column. Please post them on the Compu-Kiss Message Board at www.compu kiss.com/ckmessageboard.
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