Redmond (WA) - Microsoft today released the first public beta of the upcoming Internet Explorer 7. The 11.2 MB download allows testers to sample some new features and help Microsoft find bugs in the program. The new browser has more RSS features than previous versions and includes tabbed browsing, a feature that competing browsers have had for a while. Currently, the beta version will only work with Windows XP with Service Pack 2, but the company adds that the final version will support Windows Vista and Windows Server 2003.
Along with its sleeker and "cleaner" look, Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 will tightly integrate RSS feeds: Users are able to subscribe to the feeds within a webpage. In addition, the RSS feed data collected by the browser is accessible by most other programs and Microsoft said that it will supply the RSS API to enable software developers to create applications that connect to and manipulate the feed.
Tabbed browsing, where multiple browser windows appear as tabs inside the main window, is nothing new, but IE7 adds a twist: These tabs can now be organized into groups, much like favorites are organized into categories like travel or business. With a single click, all the sites in a group can be opened. There is also a preview option that will show thumbnails of all the open windows.
As is common with beta software, some features don't work so well. In addition several items that previous users of Internet Explorer are used to are gone. The "View Source" function that allows users to see the HTML source code of a webpage has been removed. In addition, SSL and SSL2 are not supported anymore.
The final version of Internet Explorer 7 is expected later this year. The beta of the browser can be downloaded from Microsoft's Internet Explorer site.