System administrator Vladimir Mazek devoted space in his blog this week to the newly-released Internet Explorer (IE) 7. The title of his entry: "IE 7 is Out: Will anyone care?"
A look around the blogosphere showed many people did care, and their reaction was mixed after trying out the upgraded browser.
Many users appeared to be taking a wait-and-see approach, content to wait for the early 2007 release of Windows Vista before saying goodbye to the much-attacked IE 6.
Some raved about the browser's new security features, while others dismissed it as a feeble attempt by Microsoft to play catch-up with Mozilla, whose popular Firefox browser is often touted as a more secure alternative to IE.
Mazek, who runs a global enterprise-class network of Microsoft servers for OwnWebNow.com, ExchangeDefender.com and TheOfficeServer.com, was among those declaring that he won't deploy Microsoft's long-anticipated browser overhaul until it comes out as part of Windows Vista and the software giant tries "to force it down my throat."
He also wasn't impressed with what he saw.
"Microsoft is bringing little to nothing new to the table, playing catch-up and building on the (in)security record worse than nearly any other Internet-aware application," Mazek wrote. He asked if the browser is a revolutionary new step for Microsoft security or more of the same, then suggested people go to the IE 7 download page and find out for themselves. But, he said, his opinion is that "the browser wars may no longer be relevant and IE 7 proves that with [the] me-too-er they just put up for download."
That's obviously not the kind of response Microsoft wants to hear. The company has put a lot of time into developing IE 7, giving customers plenty of opportunity to test out the beta versions and offer feedback that could be used to make the browser as ironclad as possible.
Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of the Internet Explorer team at Microsoft, used the company's IE blog to explain the process.
"We listened carefully to feedback from many sources (including this blog) and worked hard to deliver a safer browser that makes everyday tasks easier," he wrote. "When I first posted publicly about IE 7, I wrote that we would go further to defend users from phishing and malicious software."
Microsoft has achieved that goal with a phishing filter, better networking architecture and an ActiveX opt-in that will help keep users more secure, he said.
Indeed, several bloggers agreed after taking IE 7 for a spin.
A Malaysian tech blogger named Fuad wrote in his blog that IE 7 has several "cool" features, including "dynamic security protection." He was particularly pleased with the phishing feature.
Security professional Alun Jones wrote in his blog, "I cannot recommend this update strongly enough. Go and get it." While his wife likes IE 7 for its "far improved user experience," he wrote, "I see how much it adds to your security -- how many attacks have been simply stopped … by the IE7 beta versions."
IT consultant Ted Drake noted in the Last Child blog that Microsoft had to do something to keep up with increasingly popular alternative browsers, most notably Firefox. In his view, he said, "IE 7 is not as good as Firefox. It's not as good as Safari. It's arguably not as good as Opera." But, he said, it is "much, much, much better" than IE 6.
"Hats off to the IE 7 team for delivering a browser we've been asking for," he wrote. "It's not the one we begged and pleaded for, but maybe that's what IE 8 is for."