(Non-nerds, please feel free to skip this public service announcement.)
Yesterday I upgraded my Internet Explorer web browser to version 7. I upgraded my Firefox browser to version 2 about a month ago. When you run a self-programmed website like Gruts, you need to check it looks OK on both of the major browsers.
For those of you who haven't tried it yet, IE7 is a bit of a curate's egg. It has some very nice new features like tabbed browsing, automagic RSS feed detection, and ClearType font technology (which makes reading web pages much easier on the eyes). But…
The menu, address, search and button bars at the top of the browser on IE7 are a total mess. Pretty much everything has moved, and there is no way to reposition anything, meaning there is an awful lot of wasted screen-space. The address/search bar now takes up an entire (fixed) row. You can't turn off the search box, which means you duplicate on-screen functionality with the Google search bar (if you use it), which is now forced onto its own separate row. Worst of all, the familiar navigation buttons are now all over the place: the back/forward buttons are top-left (before the address field), the refresh button is after the address field, the favourites button is second-row-down top-left, and the rest of the buttons are second-row down top right. Really, a total mess. I have had to become a bit of an expert in keyboard shortcuts in the last 24 hours, which is a major step backwards.
The conspiracy theorist in me suspects that Microsoft is not allowing me to rearrange my menu/address/button/search bars to force me to turn off the Google search bar: it now takes up too much valuable screen-space. To claw some more space back I have also been forced to turn off the menu bar. How bloody annoying is that?
So, despite some nice new features, IE7 completely blows it with the user interface. Which is odd, because Microsoft are usually pretty good at that sort of thing. If I were you, I would wait until they have sorted these issues out. At the moment, Firefox 2 is the much more user-friendly browser. It is also now noticeably faster.