IE7: Good for users, good for developers

Like quite a few people, I’ve installed Internet Explorer 7 beta 2 that Microsoft released earlier this week as part of broadening out their beta testing programme of the new browser version to as wide an audience as possible. I like it and, compared to the earlier beta, it seems pretty stable.

One big plus for this beta: it has a workable bookmark migrating tool like Firefox, so I was able to successfully import my lengthy lists of bookmarked sites – over 1,000 including RSS feeds aka Live Bookmarks – in Firefox to IE. Extremely convenient! A very useful feature, one that undoubtedly will be a big help in making it easy for people to switch to IE.

I read John Dvorak’s dismissal of IE as “the great Microsoft blunder.” I like Dvorak, especially his wacky blog, and he makes some good points on why he thinks welding IE into the Windows operating system was not a good business decision by Microsoft.

But here’s a view on why it was a good overall decision, by FeedDemon developer Nick Bradbury:

[…] What Dvorak ignores is the huge number of Windows applications that have benefited from the ability to embed a web browser. Microsoft has done a great job making it easy for developers to host Internet Explorer in their software, and this has been a good thing for customers. Think of all the software that relies on an embedded IE – not just commercial web authoring tools, feed readers, email clients, etc., but also the thousands of in-house applications that need to display web pages. This isn’t a minor point: millions of people rely on software that requires an embedded web browser, and in this regard, these people benefit from having the browser included in their OS.

It’s a view you wouldn’t necessarily think of unless you’re a software developer or an IT manager, and it’s a valid view. I use the FeedDemon RSS reader which has a built-in browser and uses IE as its default (and which works perfectly with this beta, incidentally).

One interesting note. The IE beta is described as “Windows Internet Explorer” (see the logo above). A subtle change – I’ve always seen it described as “Microsoft Internet Explorer.” It’s still described as that on the IE blog.