Just Browsing Around
Navigation tools take a stab at 'tabbing'
Anyone who thinks the browser is just a tool for getting onto the Web and surfing around hasn't tried something called "tabbed browsing." Adding powerful efficiency to the traditional Web browser, tabs make it easier to organize the gobs of information that are scattered on the Internet. They allow you to open multiple websites within a single browser page, essentially grouping similar sitesmaybe newspapers you check every daymuch as you might papers in a folder in the real world. Only in this folder, the papers come with handy little tabs that line up so they all can be seen at the same time and that make it easy to jump to the one you want. Even better, tabs enable you to open the whole group of websites with one click.
These tabs are the best new feature of Internet Explorer 7.0, the first major upgrade to Microsoft's browser in five years. In addition to new tools that help organize the way you navigate the Web, Explorer 7.0 also makes it easier to find new sitesthanks to a search feature that sits on top with toolbarsand better protects you from the bad guys lurking out there.
Microsoft is largely playing catch-up with competitors, notably Firefox, a descendant of the Netscape that Explorer defeated, now reincarnated as a strong alternative. Firefox itself recently released a new version that keeps it a bit ahead of the new Internet Explorer. For one, Firefox now keeps a list of recently closed tabs, making it easy to find and reopen them.
Firefox also has filters that watch for malicious websites, perhaps blocking you from visiting a site that isn't what it says it is. Internet Explorer added a similar feature, and that is one place where Explorer seems to perform better, though Microsoft also had to include numerous other security improvements to match Firefox. The added security is enough to make the new version of Explorer a crucial upgrade for users-who might also learn how today's browsers can make life a little more efficient.
This story appears in the November 20, 2006 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.