I am relieved to see that I am not the only one out there confused about IE7’s design. While I like the ‘glass look’ for the most part, I am baffled as to how in the heck they believe anyone can seriously use that icon configuration and placement for the settings. Seriously, it is really bad!

As much as I used to rip on previous versions of IE, I am already missing the older version. The really sad thing is that this is coming from a Firefox user!

I am digging what they are trying to make happen with the live bookmarks; basically taking the Firefox Live Bookmarks concept and doing a better job with feed management. Thus far, the only thing I see missing is some sort of alert throbber to alert you when a feed update is made.

Microsoft’s anti-phishing utility built into the browser was also another item well thought out. For the most part, it takes care of itself and appears to work pretty efficiently.

Unfortunately, the goodness stops there. The IE team has worked to compete with the Firefox world of extensions by offering ‘browser add-ons’. At first pass, the idea is fairly sound. And just like with Firefox extensions, some of the items that you choose to try will work while others may not. Honestly, I expect this. But the management of the add-ons is as clumsy as the rest of the interface.

OK, look: In Firefox, I can manage my extensions from Tools, then Extensions. From there, the options are brainlessly obvious. You have Options, Uninstall and Get Updates. Simple, yes?

In IE7 however, we have: Tools, Manage Add-ons. From here our options include the ability to enable, delete and disable the add-on; in addition to a pull-down menu in which the new user will most definitely be left scratching their head. I see no obvious button called OPTIONS or MAKE CHANGES. Why? Because they are using tons of third party programs and are therefore giving the false illusion of offering true IE ready add-ons when in fact, they are little more than random programs that ‘should’ work with IE.

Internet Explorer Team, listen up: I admire the work you have put into this. I understand the sleepless nights and crazy deadlines you must face in order to make this happen. I am also totally understanding that this is in Beta and not to be outwardly compared to a finished product like Firefox 1.5. Having said this, the following needs to happen…

  • First, bring back the old format with File, View, Favorites, etc. Speaking as a guy who appreciates a consistent interface, you will be doing yourself along with yours truly, a major favor here.
  • Adopt the ability to have user created themes. Not sure how this would work with your current source code, but it would do wonders for the browser’s PR image.
  • Pat yourselves on the back for an outstanding job well done on your work with the RSS/Live bookmarks for the Favorites Center. Just get some sort of alert type deal built in and you are on the right track.
  • Allow for custom icon/button placement. I want to put my Home icon and printer icon where I choose. Remember boys, you are competing against free choice. The only way you will regain the market share is to recognize that people do not want to be told how things should work or how they should look. Just something to keep in mind.
  • And finally, lose the add-ons. Unless you can clean up the interface in that area to where you can park a typical office worker in front of it and find that they adapt to it immediately, I’d drop it and concentrate my efforts on polishing the Favorites Center.

[tags]rss,firefox,source code,internet explorer,web browser,ie7,add-ons[/tags]