Winston's Attic: Internet Explorer 7 a major improvement but still lacking some features

Don’t get me wrong. I agree Internet Explorer 7 (IE 7) is a vast improvement over its predecessor but I still feel that Microsoft failed to include what I consider some essential features – many features found in its competitors. When I say competitors, I am referring to Mozilla’s Firefox and Opera web browser. Here are some things I would have wanted to see included in IE 7, including: ad blocking, download manager, spell checker and mouse gestures.

I understand that many websites host ads in order to support themselves. But, I am not very fond of viewing a website where 50% of the screen is filled with flash animation, sponsor links, marquees and ads for Viagra. At best, it clutters the webpage and, at worst, a visitor might inadvertently click on a sponsor link which leads them to a drive by download site. There are a number of free third party software which adds content blocking. I recommend CyberGuard’s Webwasher Classic. Webwasher cleans a webpage of its banners, animations, scripts and popup windows. As an added bonus it provides excellent cookie management – users can filter out third party cookies. There are other free add-ons, including: IE7Pro and Reify’s Turnabout. Both of these products integrate themselves in to IE 7 and add itself to the menu bar.

Have you ever started a download and, just as it was 99% completed, you lost the connection to the Internet? You ended up losing everything and having to start from scratch. Well, you don’t ever have to suffer this tragedy again. Download managers can speed up downloads as well as resume downloads which were inadvertently disconnected. Both Firefox and Opera come with their own download managers. In addition, both web browsers can enhance their download managers with add-on (e.g. Firefox’s FlashGot extension). Internet Explorer 7 does not have its own download manager but there are a number of free download managers which can integrate themselves in to IE 7. Even better, most of them have click tracking. By just clicking on a download link, the download manager automatically launches and begins downloading. I recommend using Free Download Manager, a free third party add-on with no adware or any other non sense. Other good alternatives include: LeechGet, GetRight and WellGet. Both LeechGet and WellGet are freeware while GetRight is shareware. WellGet is no longer being developed.

I think many web users under appreciate the value of a good spell checker. It comes in handy when you want to write a comment for a post or write a message. Firefox 2.0 is the first version to offer an integrated spell checker. In the case of IE 7, users can install ieSpell, a free add-on which provides spell checking just a click away.

Mouse gestures allow a user to navigate the web without using the navigation toolbar. Usually, a user holds down a predefine mouse button and drags the mouse. For example, holding down the right mouse button and dragging to the left reloads the previous webpage. Another example, holding down the right mouse button and drawing a line through a link opens the link in a new tab. Both Firefox and Opera have a mouse gesture feature. In Firefox, you need to add the mouse gestures extension while Opera has one built in. IE 7 users can also enjoy the benefits of mouse gestures by using Unhsolution’s Easy Go Back.

IE 7 has a decent RSS reader but users can install Windows Live toolbar which adds greater RSS feed discovery and management. In addition, Windows Live toolbar has a decent auto form filler. My favorite Windows Live add-on is Onfolio; it allows users to save cache copies of web content on to the hard drive for offline viewing. Users can create folders to organize these “clippings.”

In conclusion, IE 7 is a vast improvement over IE 6 – it only took Microsoft 5 years to develop – but there is room for improvement. There are a number of third party add-ons which can improve on an already decent web browser.



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