Microsoft Releases Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2
by Arie Slob
Hello Windows users,
Early Tuesday, Microsoft finally ended the long wait for a public beta of Internet Explorer 7, releasing it to the general public for testing.
This beta version is now also available for Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, and Windows Server 2003, besides Windows XP Service Pack 2 (earlier beta's where only available on the latter OS).
Microsoft lists the following minimum system requirements your computer needs to run Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2:
- Computer/Processor: Computer with a 233MHz processor or higher (Pentium processor recommended)
- Memory: 64 MB of RAM minimum
- Hard Disk space: Full install size: 12 MB
- Display: Super VGA (800 x 600) or higher-resolution monitor with 256 colors
You can get more information on Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 Web site, where you also find the download links. You should take a moment to read the release notes, it lists a number of issues that have been encountered so far.
WARNING! All the usual warnings about "beta" software apply (including: Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 should not be used on production systems in mission-critical environments).
Microsoft is providing free telephone support for this beta for North America, English speaking customers. The final version is expected by the end of this year.
Read my review of Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 here!.
Microsoft's April Security Updates Causing Problems
Not for the first time have Microsoft released a patch for a problem in their software, only for users to find out it causes some serious trouble. This time it all started when users installed the MS06-015 patch originally released April 11.
The MS06-015 patch is fixing a vulnerability in Windows Explorer that could allow remote code to be executed on an un-patched machine. But soon after the patch was released, users started complaining in Microsoft's newsgroups that the patch caused serious problems: Computers would 'hang' or stop responding when performing certain tasks (such as saving or opening Microsoft Office files), special folders such as My Documents or My Pictures would be inaccessible and expanding a folder in Windows Explorer would no longer work (among other things).
Over the course of 2 weeks Microsoft determined that most of these problems where caused by a Share-to-Web software that was previously distributed by Hewlett Packard. It was also determined that some NVIDIA shell extension registry subkeys caused problems. Microsoft have since posted a Knowledge Base Article about the problems, and re-released the MS06-015 patch last April 25th.
Now, if that wasn't enough, the MS06-016 patch (also from the April security updates) also caused problems! The MS06-016 patch is a Cumulative Security Update for Outlook Express. This patch actually causes Outlook Express to detect a corruption in the Address Book, where earlier versions of Outlook Express did not detect this corruption.
Microsoft also posted a Knowledge Base Article about this problem, which offers a work-around for the Address Book problems.
Now, this in my mind puts a serious dent in Microsoft's credibility, and the quality of their patches. Granted, you can always experience some problems with the huge installed base that Microsoft has, but especially in case of the botched MS06-015 patch, a huge number of people seem to have been effected.
My suggestion: Turn OFF Automatic Updates! Let others test Microsoft patches, so that we can get on with our work, and install patches after about a week. If you keep an eye on the microsoft.public.windowsupdate newsgroup after the monthly patch-cycle, you'll know quickly enough if the latest patches are causing problems or not.
I suggest you set Automatic Updates to: Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them. You can check/change these settings from the Automatic Updates tab from the System control panel applet (Figure).
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