UPDATE: Microsoft Rolls Out New Beta Of Internet Explorer 7 - InformationWeek

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UPDATE: Microsoft Rolls Out New Beta Of Internet Explorer 7

The beta 3 of IE7 for Windows XP boasts enhancements to RSS support and the user interface, along with tabbed browsing. Shipping is set for late summer or this fall.

Microsoft has released the third beta of its upcoming Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP, moving a step closer towards an anticipated official release of the revamped browser later this year.

Beta 3 boasts improvements in reliability, compatibility, and the user interface. Only minor changes have been made to IE 7's look and feel, however; users can now add an e-mail button to the customizable toolbar and shuffle tabs by dragging them to the left or right.

Other modifications include enhancements to the Real Simple Syndication (RSS) support within IE 7, tweaks to improve Web site compatibility, and fixes to several rendering bugs. However, users won't see any performance improvements in Beta 3; speed won't be tuned until the browser reaches Release Candidate (RC) stage later this summer or in the fall.

And as for security, Beta 3 has no new features or tools, said Gary Schare, director of product management for IE. The only news of note is that the new version sports those security fixes from June 13's MS06-021 update which apply to IE 7. "A number of them relate to IE 7, but rather than release a separate patch, we rolled them into the beta," Schare said.

IE 7 Beta 3 runs on Windows XP SP2 and Windows Server 2003 SP1, but not the still-in-development Windows Vista, which has its own version of IE, dubbed IE 7+. That browser boasts a major security feature, dubbed "protected mode," which is not found in IE 7 for Windows XP.

"Protected mode builds on new features within Vista, specifically its User Account Controls, which let users run Windows with limited permissions," said Schare. "Protected mode runs IE 7+ with even less permission. It's like a sandbox around the browsing experience."

Files, for instance, can be written only to IE 7+'s own cache, preventing spyware or malware from dropping malicious code onto the PC's hard drive. "We looked at something like this for Windows XP," Schare said, "but the underlying code doesn't exist there." It just wasn't feasible to renovate XP that dramatically, he said.

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