Microsoft will release Internet Explorer 7 in a few months. (If you’re interested in marketing, you should note that the name has been subtly changed to “Windows Internet Explorer 7,” since it will not be released for other platforms, and that the icon has been tweaked. Here’s the unveiling of the new look.)

The IE team has been working on one long-standing source of frustration that has affected every browser: printing web pages that are cut off on the right, or that spill over onto a nearly empty second page. Here’s the info from the developers:

Printing is after navigation/search one of the most used features but it still lacks the fidelity of like say a photo printing program. Why is that? Content for the Web is in general not designed for printing. If laid out at 100% it generally exceeds the space provided on the paper. In IE6, for example, you end up often with cut-off right margins. Another very common problem when printing for example receipts off the Web is that you end up with 2 pages of paper where the second page only holds 2 lines of useless information like copy right statements etc. These are all examples where the authors did not think of the user printing.

Our goal for IE7 is to put more control in the users hand to get the Web right for printing. In IE7 Beta1 you will see the first steps in this direction. Keep in mind this is just a teaser of what you will see in Beta2.

For Beta 1, I want to emphasize 3 changes to printing and PrintPreview:


We now have Shrink-to-Fit on by default when you print a page with IE7. This feature will determine the width of the document and adjust it to fit on your paper. No more cut off right margins. Of course we give you the ability to adjust scaling rates to really adjust it the way you want it.

Orphan Control:

If IE discovers that you are printing a document that gets laid-out on two pages and the second page only covers minimal white-space, we automatically shrink-to-fit the page to fit on only 1 page of paper. Of course, you can manually adjust the scaling rate back if you rather have it printed on 2 pages but we believe that we will save a lot of trees with this feature. 🙂

UI-changes to put the user in control:

The look and feel right now is still very “bare bones” but you can detect the new emphasis on user control. Notice that we elevated the selection of landscape and portrait mode. The motivation behind is that if content is much wider than suitable for portrait mode it should be easy for the user to select an alternative. Also we provide now the capability to turn on/off header and footers. Even though they provide useful information (like origin of the page and page numbers etc.) they sometimes not wanted for printable output (like images etc.).

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