The main goal of the release candidate is to assist developers in ensuring that their Web sites are compatible with this impending final release.
Microsoft (Quote, Chart) has not updated Internet Explorer in a significant way since IE 6 came out in 2001.
As such, IE has been completely rebuilt. It’s no longer integrated with the Windows Explorer shell to improve security.
“Protected Mode,” available in Windows Vista, will run the browser in a sandbox, so only cache files can be written to the disc.
Version 7 will add tabbed browsing, one of the most popular options in competitors such as Firefox, along with anti-spoofing and anti-phishing protection, a search box with a number of search engines to choose from, and support for RSS feeds.
Another big change will be the addition of new Web technologies that have emerged since IE 6 came out five years ago, notably Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) 2.1.
Microsoft said in a statement announcing the release that more than 200 behavioral changes have been made to CSS between beta 3 and RC 1.
Other rendering improvements include transparent PNG support and native support for XMLHTTP, which means AJAX-based Web applications will no longer require an ActiveX control to function.
Other enhancements include a simpler user interface, customizable search box and a revision to how favorites are organized.