IE 7 for XP first release candidate available

Microsoft wants developers to make sure applications and sites are compatible with IE 7 for XP as it releases RC 1 of the browser.

Microsoft is calling on developers to ensure applications and Web sites are compatible with Internet Explorer (IE) 7 Release Candidate 1 (RC1) for Windows XP, which the company made available on Thursday.

RC1 means IE 7 is nearly ready for prime time. IE 7 RC1 for Windows XP is a feature-complete version of the browser that is expected to be released in its final form in the last quarter of the year, said Margaret Cobb, group product manager for the IE team at Microsoft.

She called IE 7 RC1 for Windows XP a "call to action" for Microsoft's developer community, who can use the public release to ensure compatibility between the browser and applications so there will be no snags when IE 7 is in its final release.

Microsoft added one new feature between IE 7 for Windows XP's beta 3, which was released on June 26, and RC1, Cobb said. The company added an auto-uninstall feature due to demand from testers who had to manually uninstall previous test versions of IE 7 through Windows' Control Panel. "This simplifies the installation process," she said.

IE 7 RC1 for Windows XP also is available in two more languages than its previous test release. Microsoft has added French and Spanish options for the browser. IE 7 for Windows XP beta 3 was available in English, German, Japanese, Arabic and Finnish. The final version of IE 7 for Windows XP will be available in 35 languages, Cobb said.

IE 7 for Windows XP is a "subset" of the version of IE 7 that will be included as part of Windows Vista, the next version of Microsoft's client OS. Vista's version of IE 7 will contain two additional security features -- protected mode and parental controls -- than the version of the browser that will be available for Windows XP, Cobb said.

Once IE 7 for Windows XP is in its final release, it will be available both as a free download from Microsoft's Web site, and through Microsoft's Automatic Updates (AU) service. However, Microsoft will give enterprises a tool that enables corporate desktops bypass the update if they so choose.

Some of the new features available in IE 7 include built-in support for RSS (really simple syndication) feeds, tabbed browsing and improved security, including an antiphishing filter.

While IE is still the dominant Web browser, Microsoft hopes with IE 7 to win back some browser market share it's lost to Mozilla's open-source Firefox browser, which has grassroots appeal. According to NetApplications.com, a maker of applications for monitoring and measuring Web site usage, Firefox had 8.07 percent market share in July, while IE had 87.2 percent market share.

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