Is IE 7 Really Firefox Lite?

by Preston Gralla

Previews of IE 7 available via the Vista (formerly Longhorn) beta show that what we can expect is primarily Firefox Lite. The newest version of IE takes some of Firefox's better features, but for now doesn't improve on them, or even always match them.



First and foremost, IE has finally entered the modern world with tabbed browsing. That's the good news. The bad news is that for now, the tabs have only basic functionality, and don't have all the bells and whistles of the various extensions that let you customize Firefox tabs. Let's hope later beta versions fix that.



Something else will look familiar to Firefox fans, a search bar on the upper right that lets you search through various search engines by choosing from a drop-down list. But there doesn't appear to be any way to add new search engines, or write add-ins of your own, like Firefox lets you do.



IE 7 will feature built-in RSS capabilities. Again, Firefox already does this, via the Sage extension. And IE 7 also has anti-spoofing and anti-phishing features. Firefox has this to a limited degree, and here's one area where IE 7 might be better.



All in all, the beta doesn't offer any reason for switching from Firefox, although perhaps the final version will. But it's great for existing IE users, because it's a great step forward for the browser. It's just not Firefox --- yet.


What do you think of IE 7 beta?


18 Comments

viae
2005-07-27 16:02:45
Web standards?
What about web standards? How's the rendering engine? Doe web developers still have to perform the box model hack and other frustrating work-arounds to get style sheets to work correctly? Tabs are nice, improvements to rendering engines are even better...
mocax
2005-07-27 18:10:26
Performance?
Does it hog like Firefox?
That's one thing I don't wish IE7 to copy from Firefox


Oh yea, does it pass the Acid2 test?

boo
2005-07-28 02:25:53
Most relevant feature
I'd go so far as to suggest that web standards compliance is perhaps the most relevant feature of the product, as it regards basic functionality. Tabs are like air conditioning - nice, but if the vehicle isn't roadworthy...


Thanks again to Matthew Somerville for his simple hack for the IE6 floats and background-colour bug.
http://www.dracos.co.uk/web/css/ie6floatbug/
I found it yesterday and it saved me hours of work.

jwenting
2005-07-28 05:59:08
beta software and tabs
1) remember it's beta and still a year or so from release.

2) just because you didn't see something demoed doesn't mean it can't be done (yet).

3) not everyone likes tabbed browsing. I for one hate it and would rather browser manufacturers don't waste time on it.

4) IE6 outperforms Firefox and has better standards support as it is (maybe not everywhere but everywhere I tried it, I could get W3 compliant code to fail on FF that worked just fine in IE), I hope they don't make it more like Firefox in reducing performance and standards compliance to suit FF user expectations.
brianiac
2005-07-28 08:06:26
beta software and tabs
  1. Beta (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_stage) means all the functionality has been decided, and all that remains is finding and fixing bugs.
  2. See #1; while this is true, I would never hold my breath waiting for IE to knock my socks off. We've all been badly burned before.
  3. Honestly, what could you possibly dislike? It allows fast and simple caching of a page to return to, even better than Safari's much-ballyhooed SnapBack.
    1. (Performance) It's easy to be faster when you do a half-assed job (see following).
    2. (Standards) Just plain wrong. Can you give examples? Here is what MS themselves have said (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=718E9B3A-64FE-4A4C-9DDF-57AF0472EAD2&displaylang=en) : "...in Internet Explorer 7 beta 1 Microsoft has addressed some [emphasis added] of the major inconsistencies that can cause Web developers problems producing rich, interactive Web pages."
    3. (Sarcasm) Spend some time doing some real testing, at
      • Eric Meyer's CSS2 Test Suite (http://www.meyerweb.com/eric/css/tests/css2/)
      • Ian Hickson's Evil Test Suite (http://www.hixie.ch/tests/evil/mixed/home.html)
      • Peteís Guide: Web Browser Tests (http://petesguide.com/WebStandards/tests/)
      • Robinís HTML 4.0 Conformance Test (http://www.robinlionheart.com/stds/html4/)
      • No, Internet Explorer did not handle it properly (http://www.howtocreate.co.uk/wrongWithIE/)
      • or my The Browser Dereliction Report (http://webcoder.info/reference/dereliction.html)

    In the interest of full disclosure, do you work for Microsoft, or depend on them for your livlihood? I do (depend).

brianiac
2005-07-28 08:08:46
beta software and tabs
Of course, I meant livelihood.


When is O'Reilly going to fix the bullet styles in replies, for crying out loud??

brianiac
2005-07-28 09:56:53
Just FYI

From my task manager:

  • firefox.exe 27,008 K
  • iexplore.exe 30,304 K
  • k-meleon.exe 17,508 K

So, if footprint is that important to you, K-Meleon may be the way to go.

aristotle
2005-07-28 14:36:24
beta software and tabs
There’s never been a preview button either. They don’t appear to have any interest in making the weblog system not suck. I don’t know what’s up with that.
dubird
2005-07-31 09:44:06
spyware
I could repeat a lot of things people have said to me, but one thing I have noticed for myself:


with IE: I run my spy- and ad-ware removal software each week, and would get on average 50 or so entries.


with Firefox: Same setup, same firewall, same spy- and ad-ware removal software, 3-4 entries.


If the new IE does as good a job as Firefox at helping block spyware, that's all to the better. I happen to like the customization of Firefox more though.

James
2006-04-25 08:32:38
Althought it may not be standard, there has been a free Google anti-fishing extension for Firefox for awhile, and now Google Toolbar 2.0 (which is bundled with many advertised Firefox downloads) has it built in. So IE7? Fox in sheeps clothing, if you will...
John
2006-05-10 14:08:07
I installed IE7b2 this morning. I madeI sure Firefox was still set to be my default browser. When I clicked on a link in an email, my brower wouldn't open. The only way I could get the link to open was to copy and paste it into Firefox. If I set my default browser to be IE7 of course it opened. The only way I could fix it was to uninstall IE7b2 and go back to IE6. I guess the message is to beware of IE7 if you want Firefox to work.
dazzle
2006-05-27 06:30:43
You can create your own plugins for IE7 using my search plugin generator (http://www.edazzle.net/os/generate.aspx) or have a look at the list of previously created search plugins (http://www.edazzle.net/os/pluginlist.aspx)
Sarah
2006-08-18 06:59:35
What do i think of IE 7 beta?


I think it is one huge copy of Fx and a poor one at that. As said in the article, its better than IE6 but has nowhere near the flexibility of existing Fx builds.


Microsoft - when are you going to innovate instead of replicate?

manicsquirrel
2006-09-14 11:08:21
The find function really blows. It is still a modless dialog box. If you have several tabs open and are looking for a word or phrase on one tab, when you switch to another tab you have to type in your find terms all over again. IE7 could really benefit from the Firefox find function.
IEHATER
2006-10-17 10:09:04
While running ie7 and firefox at the same time, there was some problem. i disabled the memory leak fix in firefox, and restarted, and instead of defaulting to the profile manager, it went directly to my profile. the memory leak was not fixed. this time i closed ie7 and firefox quit too. then both ie7 and the firefox proccesses in the task manager both showed the memory leak. upon fixing it in firefox, both were they same... strange eH? perhaps it is just my virtual desktop process saver though
Matt Ashton
2006-10-30 10:04:45
This is great, Microsoft just re-released 2003's popular firebird web browser and renamed it IE7. Great work guys.
Sebby
2007-05-12 22:03:16
Uses too much resources!
Of course, IE has always been slow on my machines..
Don
2007-08-19 16:44:14
In addition, IE isn't as stable as FF.


In IE 7, have had it close out when having around 20 or 30 tabs open at once. FF have had up to 500 open before, no problems.


Using IE 6 or before, there are a total of IE & windows explorer windows combined that can be opened of only 64 without a reg patch.


IE7 looks alright, but things aren't as intuitive or feel as nice as firefox