Readers reveal the secrets of IE 7

Brian livingston By Brian Livingston

Microsoft’s new browser, Internet Explorer version 7.0, will ship sometime soon with updated features and better security — so of course our contributing editor Woody Leonhard explained on Sept. 14 how to prevent version 7 from automatically downloading to your PC.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with IE 7, mind you. Woody just thinks other people, not you, should be the first to get bitten by any point-oh bugs.

Disable IE 6 plug-ins before upgrading

Woody’s Sept. 14 story stimulated a great number of readers’ tips on the current beta version of IE 7. While I don’t recommend that you install IE 7 on a mission-critical machine, it’s certainly advisable to start testing the new browser on some separate, sacrificial machine. We’ll report on the good and the bad of IE 7 as soon as the final build is released and we can thoroughly scrutinize it.

In this issue, I’m bringing you the best of the tricks that have flowed in since our last newsletter. First up is reader Keith Swartz, who explains that IE 6 plug-ins and toolbars can conflict with IE 7 — but he has a fix:

  • “One thing that I think is worth mentioning, because I’ve been bit by this on several attempts to test the beta: if users do decide to accept the IE 7 upgrade (or even if they are testing the release candidates), they should DISABLE all plug-ins and toolbars in IE 6 BEFORE they upgrade. This will avoid crashes due to incompatibilities that may prevent the browser from even starting up.

    “I don’t know of any specific toolbars that are causing problems in the most recent drops (like J2SE, Acrobat, or Google), but I wouldn’t doubt there are still some problematic ones out there.

    “The best way to disable toolbars, in my opinion, is with a free tool called BHODemon 2.0. It has a very simple interface that shows you all your browser helper objects (BHOs — plug-ins or toolbars), and lets you simply uncheck a box to disable them the next time you start up IE.

    "The tool is available at MajorGeeks. The program was originally designed to aid in the reporting of and disabling of spyware BHOs. Unfortunately, the developer stopped updating the tool a year ago, so it’s no longer quite as suitable for that purpose. However, as a means of quickly disabling/reenabling BHOs, it’s as about as simple as you can get.”

Again, it’s not wise to install a beta of any software on a production machine. But if you’re testing IE 7 on a nonessential box, avoiding conflicts by disabling plug-ins and then reenabling them is a very good idea.

IE 7 still garbles many Web sites

There’s a reason that these things are called betas, as millions of testers are finding out at this very moment. Reader Stephen Wolper writes:
  • “I just installed IE 7 RC1 and had to uninstall it one week later. The biggest problem is the incompatibility with many Web sites and file-download programs. The fix offered by Microsoft to make your computer appear to be running IE 6 just does not work. In fact in my experience, it did absolutely nothing.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2006-09-28: