I’ve got a lot of friends I talk with that are already running Windows 7 RC1 as their primary operating system, and they are very impressed with it. Many of them are rather diehard Firefox or Google Chrome fans, but all of them admit that Internet Explorer 8 handles nicely in the operating system. All of them even gave me the same reason… awesome integration with the new Taskbar.
If you’ve used IE8 in Windows 7 the chances are good that you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, well, you’ll see why it’s rather nice in just a second. One of the features I’m talking about is the way the Taskbar previews are able to treat individual IE8 tabs as if they were separate windows:
This kind of thing makes it even easier to switch between tabs in the browser, and will probably make the whole tab situation less confusing for users who don’t even understand what tabs are… because now they will just appear as if they are individual windows. You can always change this behavior in the options if you only want the active tab to appear in a preview.
Then there is also the “jump list” that gets displayed when you right-click on the IE8 icon in the Taskbar. It basically shows a list of your most frequently visited sites, and you can pin them to the top so that they are always quickly accessible. It’s essentially another way to bookmark your favorite sites.
Now I know what some of you are going to say… there’s already a Firefox “extension” called WinFox that promises to add some of these features. Very true. These are some features that can’t simply be added through an extension though, and so WinFox is actually an application that has to be running alongside the browser. Plus if you read through the comments you’ll see it’s not the most stable thing in the world, but in its defense it is in the early stages of development.
Basically what needs to (and will) happen is that the browsers themselves will start to take advantage of features like this as well. These are things that I believe need to be offered out-of-the-box for Windows 7 users, and having talked to a few people I know I’m not alone in that thinking. These features aren’t enough to really make me want to move away from Firefox, but I want to see the browser integrate itself into the operating system even more.