Microsoft rereleased its MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search today after adding a key feature back into the product: tabbed browsing for Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE). The tabbed-browsing feature is available to IE users several months before Microsoft is expected to ship IE 7.0, the next major version of IE. The main new feature in IE 7.0, of course, will be tabbed browsing.

The new IE tabbed-browsing functionality you get when you install MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search is similar to tabbed browsing on other browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox. The tool includes a My Tabs feature that lets you easily bookmark a set of Web site addresses, each of which will open in individual tabs, or tabbed subpages, when you select them. The feature also lets you open MSN Search results in background tabs, which don't disrupt the current window display.

When I spoke with Microsoft about MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search in April, the tabbed-browsing feature was scheduled for inclusion in the initial public release of the product. When MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search shipped in May, however, the feature had been dropped so that Microsoft could test the functionality further. Originally, Microsoft planned to ship tabbed browsing as an iFilter add-on for the initial MSN Search Toolbar. However, current users of the toolbar will need to uninstall the initial version of the product and install the new version (see the URL below).

This new tabbed-browsing feature represents the second time that MSN has jumped out ahead of the Windows Division with its MSN Search Toolbar. In addition to shipping tabbed browsing for IE first, the MSN Search Toolbar also adds instant desktop-searching capabilities, a feature that Microsoft originally planned for Longhorn. However, the company has delayed Longhorn until late 2006.

MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search is free and requires Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, or Windows 2000 and IE 5.01 or later. To obtain more information or the free download, visit the MSN Web site.

http://toolbar.msn.com/