Internet browsing represents a significant amount of the time many of us spend on our computers. Whether it is searching out the latest stock quote, shopping or doing homework; Internet browsing has become a large part of our computing experience. Since the introduction of Internet Explorer (IE), Microsoft has sought to improve various aspects of the browsing experience with each succeeding version (Now up to IE 7). IE 7 was a major change that introduced significant security changes (such as an Anti Phishing Filter, tabbed browsing (which allows you to have multiple web pages open without opening multiple instances of the browser), compatibility and toolbar enhancements. The toolbar enhancements expanded the ability of users to enhance their browsing experience by allowing users to utilize 3rd party add-ins. Add-ins can be in the form of Toolbars or browser helper objects.
While toolbar add-ins can greatly enhance the browsing experience by allowing the user to do more and have more flexible access to information, they can also be the source of a number of problems including poor performance and browser crashes. A malicious, poorly written or behaving add-in can cause a host of problems. However, there are a few excellent add-ins out there and some simple rules to follow that not only enhance the user experience, but provide very helpful tools.
IE7 has several industry-leading security and fraud-prevention features that offer added protection to users:
- Support for Extended Validation Certificates (EV SSL) – first in the industry to implement EV certs in the browser. Recommended by PayPal.
- Industry leading anti-phishing filter: http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2005/09/09/463204.aspx; http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=B4022C66-99BC-4A30-9ECC-8BDEFCF0501D&displaylang=en
Often times the single biggest issue with respect to performance in IE7 is related to multiple toolbars. Users frequently install multiple toolbars in order to obtain enhanced flexibility. This impacts both performance and reliability/crashes in the browser. If a user wants to speed up IE7 they should first look to see if they have a number of different browser toolbars, then disable and/or uninstall unnecessary, redundant, or unused toolbars. This can be done within the manage addons console in IE (tools/manage addons). One addon that does improve IE7 performance is the free IE7 pro add-on available here: http://www.ie7pro.com/ . The user could also look for a more inclusive toolbar that has multiple functions that they would wan. Some of the more inclusive toolbars include Google, Yahoo and the MS Live toolbars.
Ease of use:
Popular helper addons that make IE7 easier to use:
- Roboforms – simple password and form autofill tool: http://www.windowsmarketplace.com/details.aspx?view=info&itemid=2849307
- Leech-Get – download manager: http://www.leechget.net/en/
Internet Explorer 8:
Finally, before the release of Win 7 Microsoft has made the beta of IE 8 available to users. I would encourage you to try it and see the enhancements MS will be making in its next version of IE: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/ie/ie8/default.mspx