by October 1, 2001 0 comments

August saw the launch of the sixth version of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) as a download of around 11 MB for Windows 2000, 14 MB for Windows 98. It does not run on Windows 95. The new version has some neat features and applets, but holds the same interface from version 4.x. It has gone through the introductions and removals of various features from its beta stages. In the first public beta it had a Personal Bar which had small Web pages on the left-hand side of the browser giving things like news and weather and the ability to play media files from inside the browser. This was scrapped in the second beta in favor of a Media Bar, which had goodies like music, movies and other offerings from

One can now play movies inside the bar on the left, though the size, resized to fit the bar, is rather small to view. The first beta also had a Contact Bar, similar to the contacts pane in Outlook Express, which has also

The final IE 6 supports the new but not yet finalized P3P Privacy standard. This is a specification that allows you to set rules that dictate how websites you browse can use your personal data. A little icon at the bottom of the browser window appears whenever you encounter a page without P3P rules attached. Double-click the icon, and up pops a dialog box listing the content that failed to pass the privacy check, even if the content resides on servers other than the current site. In the beta you could not change the rules for cookies, but now you can determine the level of security desired. You can now block all third party cookies, which show up in the form of visual alerts in the bottom frame of the browser. Click on it to get a detailed report of the blocked cookie.

IE6 also comes with a new feature, the Image Toolbar that allows you to grab images of the Web easily. The moment your mouse pointer goes over a large enough image, a small toolbar pops up that gives you options such as save or e-mail the picture. Another neat feature is the image reducer. If an image is larger than the browser screen, it reduces the same when showing it and when you run the mouse over it you get a pop up button which when clicked brings it back to normal and vice versa. In some Microsoft forums, we found that webmasters can prevent this toolbar from popping up using a special tag.

There is an option called Show Related Links, which opens an Explorer bar showing results from Alexa. However this does not change when one moves out of that page, unlike in Netscape where a similar feature keeps on changing depending on the current page in the browser window.

Print Preview has existed in IE since version 5.5, but now one is able to selectwhether to print the full page, a frame, or all the frames. This was available in 5.5 in the basic print dialog, but now can be done from the print preview.

There’s a new anti-virus feature that informs you whether any script is trying to access Outlook Express 6 to send e-mail to everyone on your contact list and gives you the option to stop it. This bit hopefully will stop at least some of the viruses that use Outlook Express. The new version of Outlook Express can now run in 64-bit mode. Outlook has a funky new splash screen in line with the Windows XP colour scheme.

Smart Tags, absent in the first beta, and included in the second was dropped from the final release, because of the hue and cry raised by the Internet community. Other tweaks include new Scripting engines of both Microsoft Jscript and Visual Basic Scripting edition (VBScript). There is now complete DOM level 1 and CSS level 1 compliance. Microsoft says that IE 6 is more standards compliant and this may cause some pages to be rendered differently as opposed to the 5.x version. There is improved bug reporting, though I’ve hardly ever felt a need for it, over the last few months that I’ve been using both the Beta releases, and almost never in the final version.

Overall, IE 6 isn’t a huge upgrade over IE 5.x as Netscape 6 was over Netscape 4.x. It mainly consists of little tweaks, from the Image Toolbar to Outlook Express’s antivirus features. It has those little things that once you use,you end up wondering how you ever did without them.

Chirag Patnaik

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