I avoided migrating my primary desktop computers to Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0 (IE 7.0) during most of the ongoing beta program because I already had a lot of the functionality of the new version by using third-party add-ins for IE 6.0 and didn’t want the hassle of learning yet another interface. But I realized while testing the final version of IE 7.0 that one of its features makes the transition to the new version worthwhile for me. It’s not one of the much-touted whiz-bang features, nor is it the tabbed interface, integrated RSS feeds, or improved search functionality. Rather, it's the simple ability to control the printing of Web pages.

I do quite a bit of research on the Web, and despite many years of waiting for the paperless office to appear, I find that I still need to print information. Many Web pages are well designed for displaying information but require a lot of tedious cutting and pasting of information into Word or Notepad documents, then reorganizing the data to print it. What should be a fairly simple task becomes time-consuming. IE 7.0 lets you modify the Web page's appearance on your computer screen before you print it. The application automatically shrinks the text size on the Web page to fit on the printed page. You can also remove header and footer information, modify the page layout, and adjust the printable area by using the printer settings.

Printing capability is one of the major reasons I'm using IE 7.0; the trigger point for you might be something different. Network administrators might be intrigued by the improved security--for example, IE 7.0 can alert users before they attempt to do something they shouldn't, such as providing data to a Web site that's phishing for information. End users might like the tabbed interface for browsing the Web, whereas others might like the easy integration of RSS feeds. You can learn more about IE 7.0's new features at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.mspx .

The IE 7.0 community, at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/community/default.mspx , provides tips and tricks for users who want to get familiar with IE 7.0 quickly or who want to use the browser's advanced features. Although you don’t have to update to IE 7.0 now, at some point users of Microsoft’s OSs will need to make the transition. You might as well get familiar with the browser now, before it’s a required upgrade.