Microsoft feels reasonably confident that Internet Explorer 7.0 Beta 2 (available for download here) is stable enough for end users to try; in fact, they’re providing free phone support as a show of good faith.

Paul Thurrott has a lengthy review of the new features and changes in the interface – a good place to start looking for information.

I’ve been testing it for a week or so. It’s been stable and I’ve experienced no side effects.

Your mileage may vary. This is a beta. It may crash. It may cause other programs to crash. Don’t try it unless you are tolerant of computer problems. There’s no rush.

There are changes that don’t feel right – a miniature “Home” button off to the side, for example, or a too-small “Back” button. There are other changes that simply require a bit of time to get used to – for example, the menu disappears from the top to save space but reappears instantly when Alt is pressed.

Slowly but surely I had accumulated a list of blogs that I was checking frequently. IE7 has a built-in RSS reader, turning the mysterious acronym into an easy and useful tool. You’ll “subscribe” to a blog or news site that uses RSS; when there’s an update, IE7 presents the new items in a standard format.

The most-hyped feature is “tabbed” browsing, where new windows open on tabs in the same IE7 window instead of in a new window. It will come to be natural, I’m sure, but at the moment it makes me a bit crazy – I can’t predict for the life of me when a tab will appear and when a new window will appear.

Interesting stuff! Brave types who can tolerate disorder should give it a try!

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