Microsoft Internet Explorer – 15 years, 15 Great Features

Last month Microsoft Internet Explorer, the worlds most popular web browser celebrated its 15th birthday. Released in August of 1995, the same month as the block buster release Windows 95, Internet Explorer came at a critical time during the web’s growth and increasing popularity among first time computer users. At the time Microsoft faced healthy competition from Netscape who help to popularize what seemed like a new computing experience. Both web browsers forever changed how we engaged with computers and throughout those battles, lawsuits, pranks and demise, consumers have ultimately benefited the most. Today, Microsoft Internet Explorer is still standing, still a strong contender which is being re-energized for the next phase of the Internet. Today, IE faces a growing and very healthy group of innovative group of competitors such as Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome, Apple Safari along with niche brands.

Today, I want to discuss Internet Explorer and some of the cool features users love and appreciate in the latest release. These are just 15 of the features I think make Internet Explorer great. Yours might be different all together.

1. A more informative address bar, as you can see in the above screenshot, Internet Explorer 8 details information such as the type of application protocol along with the domain name and top level domain name. It might not seem readily useful but makes it easier to identify the security of a website along with the domain name.

2. A more a manageable Address Bar history. Firefox had this for a while now, the ability to delete URL’s in the address bar history list, thank goodness, its in IE 8!

3. Address bar suggestions, Internet Explorer 8 provides an end to end experience when it comes to web browsing. You can also use this feature to search for recently browsed web sites, as you can see, keyboard tips are also presented when working the address bar area.

4. A Search box that’s more intelligent, providing not only a quick way to get results from your search engine, but actually deliver useful information. The above screenshot shows how Microsoft is really innovating when it comes to Search and synergies. This is a great way of saying there is more to Google than Search.

5. Color coordinated tabs is a fun, useful way to keep track your many websites you might have open in the web browser. When ever you open a link a in a tab from within an existing tab, it creates a color set indicating the tab from which it was opened. Coordinated Tabs also works in ‘Quick Tabs’ view and ‘Tabs List’.

6. InPrivate browsing – prevents Internet Explorer from storing data about your browsing session. This includes cookies, temporary Internet files, history, and other data. Toolbars and extensions are disabled by default.

7. You gotta love a feature like this, especially for persons who want to know more about the web, find similar sites of interest about a certain topic, Web site suggestions does just that and results are surprisingly accurate!

8. There is always that little snippet of information you always go back to a website just get the latest info from. Now let that website bring the information to you using Web slice. A great way to know what’s going on by simply cropping a portion of the website.

9. Accelerators provides useful contextual links for common activities with text that you select on a webpage to perform such tasks as opening a street address in a mapping website or looking up the dictionary definition for a word. You can also choose the web services or websites that Accelerators use to handle different types of tasks.

10. A cleaner, organized way to manage all your Internet Explorer add-ons in simplified categories. This is one area, I had hoped the IE Team would have also applied to the Internet Explorer 8 Options dialog. We will see that improvement in Internet Explorer 9. 

11. A great part of the Internet Explorer experience is its extensibility, at the same time, some add on’s can cause problems, not to worry. With the release of Internet Explorer 7, Microsoft introduced the ‘Reset Internet Explorer settings’. What it does is brings your browser to its default state like it was the first time you launched it. Of course, it should be used as a last resort in some scenarios as it deletes all accumulated activities that have taken place throughout the browsers use, so add on’s you might have installed, web browser settings, privacy settings, security settings, advanced options, tabbed browsing settings and pop-up settings.

12. Quick Tabs and Tab List – Both Firefox and Google Chrome are beginning to realize that we spend a lot of time in the browser and the amount of Tabs we have open can become unwieldy after awhile. Don’t be surprised to see in some cases of 30 Tabs open in one session. Internet Explorer 7 introduced Quick Tabs, a cool way to get a visual birds eye view of all your open web sites.

You can also view your tabs in list view using Tab List.

13. Internet Explorer No Add On’s – Its debatable whether this is a feature or not, but it sure makes a great diagnostic tool for troubleshooting when an add on might be causing the web browser not to function as normal. All third party add on’s are disabled when IE No Add On’s is in use.

14. Smart Screen Filter :

SmartScreen Filter is a feature in Internet Explorer 8 that helps you avoid socially engineered malware phishing Web sites and online fraud when you browse the Web.

SmartScreen Filter:

  • Checks Web sites against a dynamically updated list of reported phishing and sites.
  • Checks software downloads against a dynamically updated list of reported malicious software sites.
  • Helps prevent you from visiting phishing Web sites and other Web sites that contain malware that can lead to identity theft.

When you have the SmartScreen Filter turned on, if you attempt to visit a Web site that has been reported, the screen below appears and advises you not to continue to the unsafe Web site.

15. Add-Ons Gallery – One of the great ways to make your web browsing experience even more productive. I spoke earlier about Internet Explorer’s extensibility. The Add-On Gallery provides a secure place on the web to find a wide collection of popular add ons for a wide range of user needs, such as blogging, Mapping, Music, News and Shopping.

Its great rediscovering all these features included with Internet Explorer that provide a secure, entertaining and productive experience.


Internet Explorer Blog

1 Comment

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One response to “Microsoft Internet Explorer – 15 years, 15 Great Features

  1. Truly like your composing design and would enjoy to
    link up on Twitter sometime – watch out for me

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