Monday, December 25, 2006

Internet Explorer 7 ( IE7 ) Another Pretty Face From Microsoft

As a majority of the people reading this blog are using IE I figured I would give it a spin. While the sporty new UI is quite slick, the WOW factor wears off quickly as you attempt to do any real work.

Because my XP is full patched I have IE7 and was raring to go. I decided to give my usual array of website a drive with the new browser to see how well it ran against my old stand by, Firefox 1.5. This is not meant to be an exhaustive blow-by-blow, but a simple review of how IE7 seems to respond.

The first thing you can't help but notice is the new interface. Minimalistic but functional would be the way I would describe the new interface. The two "drop down" menu's are "Page" and "Tools". Despite my initial confusion as to where to find things I was quick to catch on. First I wanted to check a number of bugs with web applications that I have been using and most of them were browser independent.

So far so good. It looks good, responds well, was quick and easy to setup.

Problem in a Flash

The first sign of trouble was when I went to check my website stats. The Google Analytics website makes heavy use of flash. Upon the first visit I was asked to install the flash ActiveX. Unfortunately for me it did not work. I tried several other sites and the same thing, flash only partially worked. Attempting to re-install flash would not work. This sent me on a quest through the search engines finally ending up at a Microsoft forum where several possible solutions were offered by different MVP's. Finally I found a flash removal tool that was able to completely remove the previous installation so that I could reinstall directly from Adobe. This solution was able to fix my problems with flash.

This is not a solution that would have been easy for a new or inexperienced user would have been able to discover on thier own. Why Microsoft could not have included corrective action before installing ActiveX controls that it knows in advanced are faulty escapes me.

Cookie Monster

I don't have a complex system. It's a stock XP SP2 home with Norton AV and the XP firewall, I don't use any other filtering applications. IE7 was unable to remember my cookies properly across browser sessions, but only for Google sites.... Hmmmm. Even between Google applications the "remember me" function fails to work properly because of one or more of MS's new security features. I took some time to see if this had something to do with me. First things first I tried adding google to the always accept cookies under under "Internet Option" without any change in behaviour.

Moving on I decided that the google toolbar might somehow be interacting poorly with the new IE7, hell Adobe flash didn't work right, so I went ahead and used the new tools in IE7 to completely deactivate the google toolbar any any other google browser plugin. I did this through the "Manage add-ons" tool that IE7 has added so conveniently to the "Tools" menu.

Unfortunately after all of that things got worse. Now every attempt to go to the Google AdSense page pops up a warning about Intranets.... WTF MS do you have to remind me on every damn page?

Bugs

Within my short span of using IE7 there here are a few more bugs that I ran across.

  • Flash is quirky requiring re-installation of ActiveX control for some
  • Cookie behaviour is unlike anything that I have used
  • Appears to "dislike" many Google services
  • Quick tabs are not kept updated with the tabs
  • Quick tabs rendering appears to require their own fetch and loading of pages!
  • Full screen "auto hide" of top menus is great, except that only mouse movement activates it. When using keyboard shortcuts the menu does not pull down automatically


But it's not the obvious bugs that are the problem it's the random issues. Watching the newsgroups there seem to be as many seemingly random issues as there are installations of IE7.

Run Away?

During installation of IE7 we are told that we can uninstall this product at any time, unfortunately this might be stretching the truth. The uninstallation wizard warns that any application installed after IE7 might not function properly after uninstallation ( Whoops ). At least they are getting more honest about the reliability of the uninstall method. Not wanting to risk the overall stability of my installation I did not attempt uninstallation.

MVP's posts generally agree that the only safe way to remove this application is with a "restore point", unfortunatily this solution only works so long as you are not making and real changes to your computer. It really is the sledge hammer of removal tools and it's a crime that Microsoft is allowing this application out the door without proper uninstall support.

UPDATE: Followed steps on this helpful page to remove IE7. The steps include turning off Automatic Updates and rebooting twice. Oh, and tell me why, oh why, does automatic update tell you to reinstall IE7 after a user just finished uninstalling it? ( another bug ).

Conclusion

Yet again Microsoft has released a half-baked product. While sporting a new and improved UI with slick new graphics it's got a rotten underbelly. It's quirks will confound and confuse the average user and at the same time thumbs it's nose at advanced users as well. It seems to be unable or unwilling to render without comment pages that work just fine in other browsers that I use. Businesses should be very afraid of how there Web applications will respond within this monster. While the bugs are still being worked out I recommend a browser like Firefox or Opera to get essential work done.

My big question for Microsoft... is IE6 so completly broken that this is a "Critical Update" or just another way for Microsoft to push Vista?

5 comments:

cully said...

I haven't any problems with IE7.

lopa said...

IE7 is safer than IE6. IE6 is obsolete.

Eric said...

Lopa,

As far as I can tell they are both obsolete.

Mathieu said...

Could you please tell me how to put a "read the rest of the story" link in my own beta blogger blog? I've been trying to but couldn't be able to find out how to do this. You can give me the html code to insert on gigantomachia@gmail.com. Thanks a lot.

Eric said...

If you read earlier in my blog I document how I got it working.

http://brontide.blogspot.com/2006/12/after-reading-help-page-how-can-i.html