Special Edition Using Microsoft Windows Vista: Chapter 15, Using Internet Explorer 7
This excerpt from Que's comprehensive reference book on Windows Vista walks you through the new features in Internet Explorer 7. It's also got tips on customizing your browser settings, multimedia downloading, and how to troubleshoot your installation.
The World Wide Web (also called WWW or the Web) has worked its way into virtually every aspect of modern life. That's an astounding fact, considering that just a short 20 years ago, it was nothing more than an idea living inside a computer scientist's head. That scientist was Tim Berners-Lee. While working at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (or CERN, from its original name, Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire), Berners-Lee needed to devise a way in which scientific data could easily be shared simultaneously with physicists around the world. Along with Robert Cailliau, Berners-Lee designed the first web browser in 1990, to allow scientists to access information remotely without having to reformat the data.
This new communications technology that Berners-Lee and Cailliau developed transmitted data to viewers via the Internet, which by the early 1990s already existed as a global network, linking numerous educational and government institutions worldwide. The Internet served for decades as a means of exchanging electronic mail (email), transferring files, and holding virtual conversations in newsgroups, although data shared online was typically static and text only. The new technology provided data in hypertext format, which made it easier for far-removed scientists to view the electronic library at CERN's information server. The hypertext data could even incorporate graphics and other file formats, a practice virtually unknown to Internet users of the time.
Despite a relatively small initial audience, the hypertext concept quickly caught on, and by 1993, more than 50 hypertext information servers were available on the Internet. That year also saw the development of Mosaic, the first modern and truly user-friendly hypertext browser. Mosaic was produced by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois with versions for the X Window System, PC, and Macintosh. Mosaic served as the basis for a number of browsers produced by commercial software developers, with Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer eventually becoming Mosaic's best-known offspring.
The world was eager when the first commercial websites began appearing in 1994. President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore had already popularized the idea of an "information superhighway" during their 1992 political campaign, and by the next year, it seemed that everyone wanted to get online and see what this new World Wide Web of information had to offer. A high level of media coverage meant that, by 1995, most of the general public knew what the World Wide Web was and wanted to be part of it.
The rest, as they say, is history. In its current form, the Web exists on hundreds of thousands of servers around the world. The system of naming and addressing websites is implemented by a number of private registrars contracted by the United States government. Today you can go shopping, play games, conduct research, download tax forms, check the status of a shipment, find directions to a new restaurant, get advice, or just plain goof off on the World Wide Web.
The hypertext concept has grown as well, even outside the confines of the Internet. These days, Microsoft structures much of the Windows interface in a Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) format. This makes interfacing with the Web more seamless and enables you to use the same program--in this case, Internet Explorer 7--to browse the World Wide Web, your company's intranet, the contents of your own computer, the online Help system, the Control Panel, and other network resources.
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