Microsoft Preps IE 7 Beta Refresh

On Monday at the Microsoft MIX 06 Web developer and designer conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, Microsoft will issue a refreshed version of Internet Explorer (IE) 7 Beta, which the company is describing as feature complete. Microsoft will also discuss the next version of IE, which will likely include features that didn't make it into IE 7, including a true download manager and more seamless inline Web page searching.

A Microsoft representative told me last week that the company would issue an update to IE 7 at the MIX 06 conference. IE developers discussed the release during a recent online chat. "The important thing about this release is that no further layout changes will be made for IE 7," Microsoft's Cyra Richardson, IE Team lead program manager, noted. "\[MIX 06\] attendees will receive several items at the show that will allow them to better test IE compatibility. We will be striving to allow attendees to start testing with the layout-complete version of IE 7."

IE 7 includes a wide range of functional and security improvements and fixes some of the obscure Web rendering problems that plague previous IE versions. New features include tabbed browsing, a phishing filter, integrated Web searching, and Really Simple Syndication (RSS) support. A Beta 2 version of IE 7 is due later this year, followed by the final release in late 2006. IE 7 will ship as part of Windows Vista, which is currently expected in November. But the company will make a downloadable version available to users of Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, and Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2), Microsoft says. Looking forward, Microsoft expects to ship subsequent IE versions far more quickly than before, with nothing like the gap between IE 6 and IE 7. The company will solicit feedback for future IE versions at MIX 06.