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UPDATE: Microsoft Rolls Out New Beta Of Internet Explorer 7

The beta 3 of IE7 for Windows XP boasts enhancements to RSS support and the user interface, along with tabbed browsing. Shipping is set for late summer or this fall.
The IE 7 development team didn't consider other alternatives to lock down XP's IE 7 even more, Schare admitted. Third-party developers have, for example, created virtual machine-style tools that separate IE 6 from the rest of the system to keep malware at arm's length, and if some does make its way through defenses, unable to permanently remain on the drive.

Instead, Schare touted IE 7's other security provisions, which include disabling of nearly all ActiveX controls by default (requiring the user to explicitly give permission for each to run) and rewritten code that should prevent future cross-domain scripting exploits.

Beta 3 will be the last in the IE 7 development cycle, but other not-quite-ready versions will appear -- Release Candidates -- in "a couple of months," Schare said, with RC1 appearing "no later than the end of September."

Schare refused to nail down a release date for IE 7, only saying that the company was planning to ship the final code before the end of the year. Nor would he commit to releasing IE 7 earlier than Windows Vista if that operating system slipped from its now-scheduled January 2006 date.

Until IE 7's official release, Microsoft will continue to collect feedback. "We've received more feedback on Web site compatibility than anything else, but some of that is out of our control," said Schare. "We can reach out to [those sites] and offer them help, but they're on their own schedule."

Schare acknowledged that some feedback -- complaints about the lack of interface customization compared to IE 6, for example -- has had to be ignored. "The reason why we locked down the address bar was to avoid spoofing attacks," Schare said. "And other interface changes were impossible because we wanted to make tabs work seamlessly."

IE 7 Beta 3 can be downloaded from the Microsoft Web site. Users must uninstall earlier betas of the browser before installing the new edition. To help with that process, Microsoft has posted a how-to on the IE team's blog.