"In a sense, we are saying that we waited too long for a browser release," Gates said in his keynote speech at the Mix06 web developer conference in Las Vegas.
"The key point is that IE7 is not the end of the line. We will be able to release a browser much faster than the typical major Windows release cycle. We're already working on the next two releases."
Internet Explorer 7 has support for cascading style sheets, transparent portable network graphics, native XML, HTTP and enhanced RSS capabilities built in. It is also the first Microsoft browser to support tabbed browsing.
"Tabbed browsing is incredibly useful because you don't have to run a full image of the browser to see different things. It's one of the obvious things that Internet Explorer is missing," said Bradshaw.
Gates also announced IE7's new security measures, designed to make online payments more secure and to stop phishing scams that attempt to steal personal information.
"There are certain patterns of phishing sites that correlate across all of them, and we were able to build a reputation service and present that information to the user," said Gates.
"There's also this idea of new certificates. In the browser user interface, you can see if it's a long-established site which would give you a strong sense of whether you ought to be able to give out your credit card number or whether you ought to think twice."
Microsoft expects IE7 to have a wide user take up as the final version will be a free download for XP users and will come as standard in Windows Vista, which is due out this year.
"We've also seen with the browser that the willingness to download new versions is very high, probably higher than for any other type of software," said Gates.
However, Bradshaw pointed out that users want the product to be backwards compatible as well as working on new platforms.
"One concern is whether the new version of Internet Explorer will work on Windows 98 and Windows ME, which a lot of people still have," said the analyst.
"I presume that it will. If Microsoft stops supporting older versions of the browser it will have to make the new one work on the older operating systems."
- Developers and IT professionals can now download and evaluate the newest IE7 beta.
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