REDMOND, Wash. May 8, 2006 – As the Web has become more complex and important to people’s daily lives, users seek safer and easier ways to find and interact with the information they care about. It doesn’t matter if it is catching up on the news, shopping for a sweater, or buying a most convenient plane ticket to visit family. To help today’s Internet users be more productive, Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer 7 has been redesigned with new and enhanced capabilities – like tabbed browsing and shrink-to-fit printing – that help make everyday tasks simple and fast.
Last week Microsoft released Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2, and the company is on track to deliver the final version in the second half of this year. To get a better sense of how Microsoft is building the new version to meet the demands of modern users, PressPass spoke with Dean Hachamovitch, General Manager of the Internet Explorer Team.
PressPass: Your team just released the second beta of Internet Explorer 7 for broad customer download. Why should users be excited about it?
Hachamovitch: We think there are lots of reasons. The short version is Internet Explorer 7 helps enable safer and easier browsing experiences for our customers. We think we’ve made significant progress in many areas.
The longer answer describes the deep investments we’ve made to keep users in control of their Web experience. For example, Internet Explorer 7 helps protect users from “phishing” by identifying both suspicious and fraudulent sites. Internet Explorer 7 has stronger security protections against malware. We’ve also built in tabbed browsing so users can quickly and easily navigate multiple Web pages in the same browser window. Searching the Web is easier in Internet Explorer 7 because of the search box in the upper right-hand corner of Internet Explorer 7, where users can directly access their preferred search engine.
We’re hearing positive feedback about other enhancements, like the clean new design that enables users to see more of their Web pages, the RSS button that enables users to view and subscribe to their favorite feeds, and “shrink-to-fit” web page printing. This all adds up to the same goal: put users in control of their Web experience.
VIDEO: Microsoft’s Dean Hachamovitch shows how to add search providers and easily change the default search engine in Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2. Click image to view (.WMF file, 2 mins., 25 secs.)
Developers and Web designers should be excited too. We’ve done a ton of work based on feedback from the technical community to improve the platform technologies in Internet Explorer 7, like our improved Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and transparent PNG (Portable Network Graphics) support. Industry partners like eBay, Amazon, Yahoo!, and Newsgator have done impressive work on top of Internet Explorer 7’s RSS support.
Those are just a few examples. Bottom line is we’ve worked hard on this version and have listened to the feedback from customers and partners. I’m personally excited with the outcome. I think our customers will be too.
PressPass: Why is the Internet user’s experience so important these days?
Hachamovitch: People’s online experience is important because it fuels their real-world experience in many ways. The Web is how many people get their news and information and entertainment. It’s crucial to how consumers and businesses interact, not just around online shopping and banking, but in informing real-world decisions like buying a car or finding a place to live or what show to go out and see.
We wanted to build a browser that made all this easier and safer so people could have confidence going about their online business. This is why we’re working so hard on Internet Explorer 7.
PressPass: Search in Internet Explorer 7 has become a hot topic lately. What’s your take on the situation, particularly the issue of default search engines?
Hachamovitch: Lots of people are interested in our approach to search, and I think it’s important to make sure the principles and facts around how the product works are clear.
The key design principle for Internet Explorer 7 is that users are in control. The fact is that it’s the user’s search box. It respects user settings, and making changes to how it behaves, like adding or removing search providers or changing the default search provider, is easy.
When a user upgrades from Internet Explorer 6 to Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 7 automatically uses the search engine that the user had as the default in Internet Explorer 6. Simply put, if a user selected Yahoo! as the default search engine in Internet Explorer 6, say, by installing the Yahoo! toolbar, Internet Explorer 7 will respect that setting and use Yahoo! as the default search engine in the search box. So when a user starts Internet Explorer 7 for the first time after installing and does a Web search, Internet Explorer 7 will show Yahoo!’s search-results page. Same deal for MSN, Google, Ask.com or any other search engine – we fully respect and bring forward the choice the user made in Internet Explorer 6. Of course, users also can search the way they do today by visiting a search Web page directly.
PressPass: That covers an existing computer scenario. What about when someone buys a brand new machine. What happens then?
Hachamovitch: When an OEM [Original Equipment Manufacturer], like Dell or HP, licenses Microsoft Windows from us to pre-install on their machines, they have complete autonomy to set search defaults in Internet Explorer however they wish. When a consumer gets a brand new machine, their search-engine list and default search option in Internet Explorer 7 is completely up to the OEM.
Our OEM partners are really excited about this option – it enables them to customize their machines, and even presents new potential revenue opportunities for selling that space to other companies. We worked with many OEM partners over many months in developing this approach.
PressPass: How does a consumer change the default setting selected for them by the OEM?
Hachamovitch: Easily. Users can add a new search engine to Internet Explorer 7’s search box and make it the default by visiting any Web page with an OpenSearch link on it and clicking that link to confirm their choice. Additionally, Internet Explorer 7’s search box includes a menu item, “Find More Providers,” that navigates to a Web page with dozens of search providers that users can add and also set as their default. Of course, any Web site can add OpenSearch links to any page and offer their visitors search engines directly. The OpenSearch technology from Amazon’s A9 team is tremendous. We’re excited to support this open standard.
Once users have more than one search engine added to Internet Explorer 7’s dropdown option list, all they have to do is select “Change Search Defaults” from the menu on Internet Explorer 7’s search box.
PressPass: Why would Microsoft want to make it easy for other companies to offer their search technology to users?
Hachamovitch: Microsoft wants to make it easy for end users to have a great search experience, and making it easy for any company to offer their search product to customers is an important part of that. Our approach is very pro-competitive, and driving competition in the marketplace ultimately benefits the consumer because it drives innovation. Customers with Internet Explorer 7 will be able to choose the search engines that best meet their needs.
PressPass: Apart from search settings, what do you think is great about Internet Explorer 7 search?
Hachamovitch: First, the user can mix and match “horizontal” – or general – search engines like Yahoo! or MSN with “vertical” – or task-specific – search engines like IMDB for movie lovers or ESPN for sports fans. They can make their browser great for the way they search the Web. Second, the user can get more done more easily with search results because of Internet Explorer 7’s rich RSS support. When I search eBay for a present for my brother, or look at his Amazon wish list, for example, I can view the results as an RSS feed. and sort and filter immediately on the page without repeating the search. I can also subscribe to search results and always have the latest information available even when I’m not connected to the Web.
Ultimately, the best thing about Internet Explorer 7’s search support is that users are in control and make the web work for them.