IE 7 beta 2 – a first test drive

Microsoft has now publicly released IE 7 Beta 2 Preview, which you can download in their IE page. It is only available for Windows XP SP 2 as of now. Naturally, your favorite blogger (yeah, you know it’s true, just admit it! ;-)) has taken it out for a short test drive.

A picture of a screen dump of IE 7

The good

The interface
It has a very nice and intuitive interface. I really like the rearrangement of menus and buttons; clean and sleek.
The zoom feature
Without a doubt, this is the best feature of this release! I wrote about my opinion about this in Web browser vendors are also responsible for accessibility and this is exactly what I’m looking for. The combination Ctrl + scroll wheel or Ctrl + +/- now zooms a web page.
Searching in the history
They have added a Search History feature. Seems like a great idea, but for some reason it never worked for me.
No more almighty select elements
It works positioning elements on top of select elements so they don’t shine through. Finally!
XMLHTTPRequest support without ActiveX
XMLHTTPRequest now works even if ActiveX controls are disabled.
Anti-aliased text.
It looks like the text in the web browser now is automatically anti-aliased.
Conditional comments support and consistency
Conditional comments are still supported and in a consistent way. You can use code like this to only include code in versions of IE prior to IE 7 (most likely CSS fixes):

<!--[if lt IE 7]>
	<link rel="stylesheet" href="css/ie.css" type="text/css">

The bad

No min-width/max-width or min-height/max-height support
This isn’t just bad but outright irritating! The incorrect handling of width and height is behind many flawed layouts on the Internet, and to see that this still isn’t supported is outrageous!
Lack of support for pseudo-classes
Pseudo-classes like :hover, :focus, :after and :before have no support (except for, naturally, :hover on a elements). Microsoft claim that :hover should be supported on all CSS
elements (what the hell a CSS element is…?), but I couldn’t get it to work on any other element type.
No resizing of fonts in pixels
Resizing fonts specified in pixels still doesn’t work. To my knowledge, the only web browser on the market that doesn’t support it.
Incorrect event model
It still doesn’t support the correct DOM event model for scripting.

The terrible

I found something that shocked me when I tested this web site: no content was shown but the background color. After some research and testing, I found the error. I use an element for clearing floats that looks like this:

	clear: both;
	height: 1px;
	margin-top: -1px;
	overflow: hidden;

The result of this that everything vanished! I thought that maybe it had something to do with the margin-top or overflow property, but no. It was height: 1px that threw it off so much. And the thing is, no matter what height I set the element to, it didn’t work. I had to completely remove it, and then things worked just fine. Terrible!

Running side by side with IE 6?

Since it’s possible to run IE 5 and IE 6 side by side, I was hoping that this was also applicable to IE 6 and IE 7. I also read Matt Brett’s Running IE 7 Beta 2 and IE 6 on Windows XP post, but unfortunately it didn’t work.

I also got a really interesting dialog when I was trying to get the IE 6 stand-alone version to work:

A picture of a dialog in IE 7 saying 'Press OK to continue loading the content of this page'

Have you tested IE 7? What are your experiences and impressions?


Related links


  • cg says:

    The :hover pseudoclasses seem to work for me (list elements anyway).

    I’m with Ed on the anti-aliased text. I also got terrible headache.

  • Chris says:

    Hi Robert,

    I installed it also today and i find the zoom-feature is a little bit quirky. Some texts are hidden and elements with a relative width, given in % are also zoomed. This means if you have a 3-column-layout with widths 20%-60%-20% and you zoom the page to 120% it uses actually 120% of the viewport which is not handy.

    I hope that the css-flaws will be fixed until IE7 is released. MS still extends the features – maybe also the css-support.

    I share your opinion about the very nice and lean user-interface.

  • Alexander says:

    Hello, Robert!

    I can't test IE7 and I want ask you: does IE7 support SVG?

    Thank you!

  • Ray says:

    Hi there, I think you're not quite correct about :hover not working in some contexts. I've been working on a site where we use a :hover element over a paragraph & it worked perfectly well–unlike IE6, I might add.

    That min-/max-width min-/max-height problem is not just bad, but terrible. Let's hope it makes beta 3…

  • Ed says:

    Anti-aliased text.

    It looks like the text in the web browser now is automatically anti-aliased.

    Pretty much spot on with your test drive however the anti-aliasing should perhaps be in the terrible. I've got a steaming headache! The text in the tab or address bar is fine and clear but the rendered text has got me using the zoom tool to help me read it. Not a good start for me I'm afraid. Other people I have asked found it didn't bother them.

    Oh, and it's a touch slow here [P43.2 1GBRAM etc.]

  • zcorpan says:

    I also got a really interesting dialog when I was trying to get the IE 6 stand-alone version to work:

    A picture of a dialog in IE 7

    So…what did that dialog say, anyway?

  • Carl says:

    CSS Flyout Navigation problems are my biggest headache right now — and these are based on well-known CSS techniques. Did they fix their box model or not? Argh.

  • So can you bring a claim against them for damaging thought-patterns and causing lack of productivity via headaches. 😉

  • andr3 says:

    You have a fawlty img… It's… not… 😉

    Damn. I've updated my win to SP2, finally, and I'll give it a try tonight or something. This post of yours isn't a good sign. 🙁

  • Shane says:

    I downloaded it today. I've got to admit that I haven't tested it inside and out, but I certainly approve of the interface. OK – so its tabbed browsing isn't new, but it's an improvement on IE6.

    Yes – type uses XP-style cleartype 'technology'. I actually have it switched of in XP; haven't looked in IE7 to see if you can switch it off there too.

    I also like the zoom functionality – and it does nice things with RSS too – try it out.

    I suppose we'd never be 100% happy with the new version anyway, but I reckon it's a step in the right direction. Let's hope for some more improvements in the near future!

    Hurrah for Microsoft 🙂

  • You have two small problems in the post. 1) your conditional comment does not show up on the page. 2) The image does not show up (like andr3 said).

    Good summary. Looks like they are working hard to get into sync with Firefox. We have an interesting fight before us. Current leader: Firefox.

  • Lack of support for pseudo-classes: I've tested hover in a couple scenarios and everything worked correctly. :focus, though, isn't in there.

    No resizing of fonts in pixels: I think zooming is a better solution anyways.

    There is also an issue with the box model when using position:absolute.

    The min/max-height/width would be a really nice to have.

  • duncan says:

    what a load of crap. i specifically followed the IE team's advice of not using hacks in site i'm currently developing and instead using conditional comments. well the site despite using pretty standard CSS, validating, looking fine in opera, safari, firefox and even icab (plus IE 6, 5.5 and 5 with the conditional comment CSS and mac IE 5 too) is broken in IE7. ironically the last three sites i did (including a fortune 500 site) using a bunch of hacks look fine in IE7.

    totally unacceptable.

  • Nice overview Robert. Started well, then it all went to M$ as the post progressed. Damn, I was hoping for an easier life with IE7, not a harder one. Guess there's still time…

    BTW, is the text meant to be ever shrinking as the page gets longer? o__O

  • Ed says:

    Robert Wellock

    February 1st, 2006 at 18:30

    So can you bring a claim against them for damaging thought-patterns and causing lack of productivity via headaches.

    Thankfully, the biggest headache turned out fine. All of my work renders just fine. Maybe my simplistic take on web development has finally paid off. 😉

  • Bryce says:

    The :hover pseudoclass breaks when the style sheet is @imported. Embedded styles and linked style sheets still work. ( I imagine they'll have this fixed before the final product goes live.

    And according to feedback I've read on the CSS-Discuss list, :hover (apparently when not @imported) does indeed work on all elements now, though I've not tested this myself.

  • Arron [msft] says:

    @Bryce – I just logged the bug for the @import of stylesheets and :hover or for that matter any pseudo class. This should be fixed shortly. thatnks for the repro page it's always nice to have help reducing issues.

  • […] набором скриншотов к нему. Буквально сразу же все взялись тестировать движок IE на новые во […]

  • Mike D. says:

    Robert: Thanks for this. We've been getting a ton of reports that most elements on Newsvine are completely gone in IE7b2 and I've been getting more and more pissed about it throughout the day. The whole site pretty much validates too and poof, nothing!

    We use clearing divs just as you do, so I'm sure now that this is the problem. Could be quite a bitch to fix… we'll see.

  • Kevin Hall says:

    After downloading and trying out IE7 Beta 2 I also found some things I liked and disliked.

    The Good

    – The QuickTabs Expose knockoff that lets you see thumbnails of all your tabs and switch to one. Pretty spiffy feature.

    – Page zoom is a nice feature, every browser should have this for accessibility

    – The integrated search box

    – Improved CSS support, glad to see :hover working everywhere like it should.

    The Bad

    – NOT STANDALONE! Seriously, what the hell, how can this be considered a reasonable thing to do. I have to kill IE 6 on one of my machines just to use the BETA of the new browser.

    – Still lacking min-width / max-width. It's such a great feature and they still can't get that in there? This can really help with building sites for varied screen sizes.

    – No resizing pixel sized text. Not so bad since most of use just stopped using pixels to size text long ago because of IE 6, 5, etc.

    – Using the Ctrl+/- for Page Zoom instead of text resizing, which is a little confusing when coming from Firefox. Seriously, if the convention is already out there just use it. The developers played nice on the RSS icon, why not the keyboard shortcuts?

    – The "Stop" button looks like a "Close" button. Stop, hmmm, how could this be represented? A RED OCTOGON perhaps? Recognizable everywhere as Stop rather than the box with an X, which is known for closing things. Again with the conventions.

    – The Skin. The design simply isn't polished or professional looking. All those pretty screenshots of the browser in Vista got my hopes up and this kludgey looking collection of icons is really disappointing. It just feels awkward.

    I want this browser to be built well. Millions of people will be using it and it should be done right. Safari, Firefox, Opera… it's clear that it is possible to build a browser well and it can be done with fewer resources than Microsoft has. I know that the IE team is working hard, but I hope that we'll see some serious steps forward before the Beta period is over and IE 7 is launched for real.

    Also, it's good to see Arron [msft] looking around at blogs for feedback and taking the bugs to heart. That shows some dedication to getting it right.

  • It's great that the CSS box model overflow problem has been fixed, but fixing that without also implementing support for min/max width/height and the :before and :after pseudo-elements is… absurd.

  • Ed says:

    Roger Johansson

    February 2nd, 2006 at 9:55

    It’s great that the CSS box model overflow problem has been fixed, but fixing that without also implementing support for min/max width/height and the :before and :after pseudo-elements is… absurd.

    Too absurd to not be sorted by the final release I would imagine. After more testing it appears the IE dev team still have their hands full.

  • […] elease of IE 7 Beta 2 preview. Aaron and Robert give IE 7 β 2 more than a cursory glance, one more complimentary than the other (see screenshots). (UPDATE: Jonathon […]

  • Henrik Pejer says:

    Hi Robert,

    regarding the problem of having IE7 installed aswell as IE6. I followed these instructions and had no problem. I now have IE3, IE4, IE5, IE5.5, IE6 and IE7 installed…

    Tip: do NOT put the IE7-folder in your Program Files folder. Put it somewhere else, 'My Documents' perhaps?

    Good luck!

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments! Sorry for having

    sloppy code in the post and for having the

    incorrect path to the dialog image. It has been



    Nope, no support for SVG.


    Thanks for the heads up on the <code>position: absolute;</code> and box model issue.


    Most likely, this should be fixed to the final release.


    Thank you for that invaluable information!!!


    Welcome here! I'm sorry I didn't have any test pages of my own to display the problems.

    Mike D,

    I'm glad it helped you guys!


    Thanks for your detailed feedback.


    I couldn't agree with you more.


    Thanks for the link, I have to test that!

  • Jules says:

    No sooner is it out of the gate when it is struck down.


  • JD Speer says:

    Tabs and Text sizing

    – Adjusting text size only affects tab with focus

    – Any new tab opened (blank or link) will have the scaled text size

    I personally would rather have a new tab open unscaled.

  • Phil M. says:

    Anti-aliased text.

    It looks like the text in the web browser now is automatically anti-aliased.

    For all those complaining of headache due to IE7 using ClearType anti-aliasing, you can turn the feature off using the list of options under the Tools/Internet Options Menu, Advanced tab/Multimedia section, it's the last option, just uncheck it. there are also a number of other additions to the advanced option tab to explore as well.

  • Tom says:

    You can turn off the anti-aliased text by unchecking the "Use ClearType" option under Tools > Internet Options… > Advanced > Multimedia

  • Tom says:

    Oops, didn't refresh the page before posting and missed Phil's post above.

  • Martin S. says:

    I downloaded and installed it yesterday without knowing it was this fresh. Looks good, haven't been able to walk through it thoroughly yet but I will give it some testing time soon.

    I, as many other developers, really need a way to install IE7 besides IE6. Can't be that hard to implement the functionality into IE7.. or is it?

    Hope anyone finds a solution soon because I need to have the ability to test my sites in IE6 and IE7. 🙂

    Nice post, by the way Robert. Cheers!

  • Mike D. says:

    Robert: Discovered a good quick fix for the clearing div problem. Just change "height: 0" to "max-height: 0".

    Other problems still remain, but this solves the big one for me.

  • I installed the IE7B2P today too, and to my horror it replaced IE6. The browser is an improvement, I will say that. In terms of Web development and standards (CSS) support, I would have to say, D-. I mean, don't we have enough of a headache already with 5.x, 6 and now 7? I don't use CSS hacks, I use conditional comment links, which means in the foreseeable future, any site that gets a cross-section of visitors will have to support at least 3 versions of CSS files just to render correctly. Who has the time (or the budget) to do that? Bad MS, bad news!

    Oh, the built-in RSS support is pretty cool, I must say. The rest of the "features" are overdue imitations of what other vendors already have.

    Fix the CSS support, completely and forget about all that other crap! Reporting phishing sites, please…

  • Robert Nyman says:


    yeah, I saw that too.

    JD Speer,

    I think it's a hard call. If you find an optimal size, most likely you want that applied to all the tabs you have. I guess it should be a setting…

    Phil M., Tom,

    Thanks for letting us know!

    Martin S,

    Thank you! And I agree, side-by-side with IE 6 is a must without any hassle.

    Mike D,

    Thank you for that! One thing I'm worried about, though, is that I believe a clearing element with with <code>height: 0;</code> or <code>max-height: 0;</code> doesn't work in older Gecko rendering engines. However, I guess easy clearing is the way to go for those then.


    My hope is that the major issues will be fixed, so the conditional comments approach will be the preferred one.

  • David Naylor says:

    Yeah, my will also suffer from the lack of max- and min-width. A real shame if they don't get it in before IE7 final.

  • Jens Meiert says:

    The UI got worse. For the first hour of testing, I thought Microsoft removed the "Reload"/"Cancel" button, until I finally discovered it is now located on the right side – the hell, why? Every browser places its buttons on the left side, but now Microsoft places two, three on the left side, some on the right side, some in between and then there is even an additional row of buttons. I bet a crate of Germany's best beer (Jever, that is ;)) that there definitely was no user-testing.

    Next, I tested some pages with extensive use of what most of us would consider "CSS hacks" (as I suspected, assuming that Microsoft fixes few/some/most bugs which caused hack usage at all). Almost no problems. Though, on my own web site, there now is a strange behavior concerning 100% width and positioning (I didn't examine this any further yet) – but this is not caused by any "hacks".

    For now, I just stay relaxed and wait for IE7 updates. There must be UI and CSS support improvements, otherwise…

  • Jens Meiert says:

    Gosh. The paraphrased part "as I suspected" needs to be located behind "almost no problems". Just in case you wondered 😉

  • Regarding the dialog, it has a simple explanation which is that due to a court ruling in favor of a holder of a patent for loading plugins Microsoft had to devise a way to load plugins in such a way that it did not violate the patent. The patent is for "seamless loading", or a similar wording, and that popup box is intended to make it less seamless. Silly. Indeed.

    Software patents suck, don't they?

  • Ø&Acir says:

    thank you Robert for letting us know about the good and bad of it!

    downloading is in process 🙂

  • Nick Gagne says:

    There is a CSS hack that works for all versions of Internet Explorer, including IE7. You can read about it here:

    The IE7 CSS Hack

  • Robert Nyman says:

    David Naylor,

    Yes, I really agree, it has to be added.


    Interesting opinions. I never relly thought about the placement of the buttons and the menus, but now that you point it out, they are indeed scattered all over the interface. Personally, I don't have a problem with it, but I understand that other might experience it as awkward.

    I'm sure (read: hopeful) that there will be good updates and enchancements after this beta, and I for one are glad to see that the IE team are seriously following blog posts and comments to try to understand people's problems and fears.

    And oh, the paraphrasing is cool; don't worry! 🙂


    Yes, that certain issue was a pretty long story including a lot of lawyers and heated discussions, if I don't misremember.


    Thanks for reading! Enjoy!


    Even if that works, I really don't encourage people using CSS hacks. It's just temporary solutions to the problems; personally I use conditional comments instead to include IE-specific CSS to cover up for flaws.

  • zcorpan says:

    Robert, I actually don't care if the image is available or not, I just wanted to know what the dialog says. It doesn't say "A picture of a dialog in IE 7", it says "Press OK to continue loading the content of this page".

  • Kai says:


    Thanks for your results on the IE 7 test drive. Sounds like classic Microsoft – the more things change the more they stay the same. Oh how I dream of a day when I can design a website without using silly CSS hacks.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Nah, I think you really were just disappointed you couldn't see the image. 😉

    Seriously, though: I know, it was a bad alternate text for that image. I've updated it to reflect the content of the dialog as well.


    Thank you!

    I sure hope that the flaws are an intermediate phase though. There's still hope! 🙂

  • AntÃ&Ac says:

    Anyone with Mcafee VirusScan shouldn't install this beta, because the update feature of this antivirus software will stop working.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Thank you for that info!

  • Paul Noeldner says:

    svg – what's a graphical windowing interface worth that can't do basic graphics primitives? svg is a great standard and there for the using – please make sure it's in ie7.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Yes, SVG support would be most welcome.

  • Andrew P says:

    This browser sucks! As I was typing in this comment, the textbox is jumping around (might be a feature of the site, but it's also moving the text I'm typuing, so that I have to close my eyes to avoid screwing hem up. And, the 'end' key's behavior is volatile due to this, and it keeps resetting to the top of the text, so I couldn't see what I'm typing if I tried to. Auggh!

    I agree with the guy who hates anti-aliasing; I have a great LCD and this still is overbearing. Plus the stupid display bugs, the lack of proper CSS support, and the screwed up UI. Who the hell wants the menus to be hidden by default??

    If you care, you can disable the anti-aliasing:

    1) Press 'alt' to get your menus back. They'll be in the wrong place, but the whole thing is so horribly implemented that it won't matter. If you press anything else the menu will vanish, so don't try to keep typing.

    2) Click 'Tools', 'Internet Options' and then click 'Advanced'.

    3) Under 'multimedia' (the perfect noun to describe plain text), there is a tiny, varely visible option called 'Cleartype'

    4) I assume you have to restart IE; I'm not even going to try those steps, lest it erase this post again.

    Note: If you bump the keyboard, it will take you back and erase anything you'd typed into forms (yes, I bumped the left arrow while holding alt for the tutorial above, but even so).

    Also, the pages load slower than Firefox still; they haven't fixed the bug wherein IE wouldn't regognize a proxy if it bit it in the ass. The tabbed browsing implementation is crap; There's a blank tab that actually means 'new tab', the X is only visible on the tab that is active (which means that you have to click twice to kill an unwanted tab), and there's a delay of half a second before it loads a freaking blank tab.

    None of the button icons make sense except for the RSS one, which they admitted to sharing with Firefox.

    I got a popup from Google asking me to switch from MSN search; had to run an EXE to install it. So much for security.

    Finally, the icons on the so-called "streamlined" display look like crap. The back and forward buttons are jagged and aliased, even thought the text isn't (which I want to have defined edges so that I can read it).

    How this is called a beta, let alone a second beta, is beyond me. Pretty sad, considering that I've said that of all MS's browsers (this one is supposed to be different). I'm STILL waiting for IE6 to come out of beta, which I figured it never would, after 5 years of inactivity.

    How crap like this ever made it into production code, I'll never know.

  • Ivan says:

    I am frustrated by the lack of SVG support.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Andrew P,

    Thanks for your opinions.


    Yes, that makes me sad, too.

  • Matthew says:

    Yet another call for SVG support!

    And please, PLEASE fix /all/ the CSS bugs before the final release

  • Jacobus says:

    Still not standards compliant! Why are they being so difficult?

    As an example, how can they keep ignoring SVG. There is no substitude. I'm just going to start ignoring IE on my web sites. If you don't have Firefox or another browser that supports open standards, then tough.

    Grow up Microsoft! You're holding back the industry. Your waisting developer time by making us slave into the nights to work around your non-compliant implementations.

  • Olu says:

    This code works across all browser versions (OK not NN4) but doesn't display the background image in IE7.

    If you want to see the full code look at:-

    <a href="

    "&gt ;

    #container {

    position: absolute;

    left: 50%;


    width: 710px;

    margin-top: 3.5em;

    margin-left: -355px;

    border: 1px solid #EFEBDE;

    background: url("topbar4a-min1.gif") no-repeat top left;


    I'm baffled…….

  • chris says:

    Did You KnowI don't know if people are aware of this but IE7 will never leave bata version for XP, the only way you will ever be able to get a full version is when they release there new OS <acronym>(Vista)</acronym> so don't be getting your hopes up for the full release version when it just isn't going to come out for XP.You can verify my statement here <a>PC World though my source for the hole thing about IE7 not being released on XP was from <a>Call For Help TVTo be honnest with you just Get Firefox

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Matthew, Jacobus,

    Yes, SVG support would be great.


    Thanks for an itneresting example!


    My belief is that it will be released for XP with SP 2 as well, but only the future can tell.

  • Angy says:

    IE 7 doesn't work with McAfee antivirus, all the display menus are blank!

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Interesting. But would you label that as a problem with IE or with McAfee?

  • […] Robert Nyman (Robert’s talk) har testat stöd för css m.m. Du hittar hans inlägg här! Installation och avinstallation av IE 7 Beta 2 […]

  • MrMagoo@somacomputer says:

    The only site that doesn't seem to work with IE 7 is Adobes… hmmmnnn…

  • Sasa says:

    Clear Type makes crap of small transparent gifs! It could be great if this can be disabled with css.

  • Bruce says:


    What is it with that company, they simply don't get it and never will.

    The upside is that I get to say to Mr customer.."not a problem, have you heard of Opera?…what about firefox?" . Infact I'm so tired of microsoft I push Opera and Firefox before I say hello 🙂

    JPMORGAN did an indepth look into switching to linux, they concluded that the only reason they can't was…microsoft office. So no SVG and "always betaware" is great motivation to dump IE and move people another step closer to getting rid of "we ignore standards while punting our own crap" microsoft.

    To comment on what Jacobus said:

    If you don’t have Firefox or another browser that supports open standards, then tough." — standing ovation, bravo, I could not agree more, it is just tough, sick of branch coding. Alert(" your browser _IS_ a bug")

    Lets make 2007 "get_rig_of_IE" year, thats what I'll do for 2007, every client, every call, strangers on the underground, the teller at Tescos….even the postman…"Thanks for my post dude, now go home and install Firefox 🙂

  • alberto says:

    If Microsoft doesn't support SVG in the IE web browser I will switch all my SVG web applications to Firefox.

  • nic says:

    In the past I could get SVG showing up in IE with the adobe viewer. Now it isn't even working with that – I just keep getting an annoying "The XML page cannot be displayed

    Cannot view XML input using XSL style sheet. Please correct the error and then click the Refresh button, or try again later. " error. Does anyone know what the deal is with this?

    Ok, so if you can't have native SVG support, then why can't I get SVG plug-in support?

    Also, if this is only ever a beta version for xp why doesn't it say that? I had my computer replaced by our IT department and it came with IE7 installed. I usually use firefox, so no big deal, but I have to make sure that my applications run on IE too since that seems to be the most widely used. I take exception to the statement "Upgrade with confidence" on the IE7 download page.

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