The Register gets two facts wrong about IE 7 TechBeta

Andrew Orlowski, of The Register, recently posted a very short blurb about problems with IE 7.  He makes two significant errors that I want to clear up here.  It took my all of 3 minutes to refute these statements on my XP SP 2 box running IE 7 TechBeta version 7.0.5112.0.  I showed my results to Scoble, but wanted to post here as well.

Orlowski writes:
"IE7 integrates search into the browser, but the only option is Microsoft's own MSN Search"

Fact: IE 7 TechBeta contains the following providers for its search box (this is a verbatim listing from looking at my machine): AOL search, Ask Jeeves, Google, MSN Search, Yahoo! Search.  Installing the most recent Yahoo! toolbar build then adds another search provider labelled "Yahoo!"

Fact: IE 7 honors the user's preference for default search provider.  In Corey Gouker's screenshot, you can see that Google is selected as the default provider.  To choose a different provider, you just click the little magnifying glass to the left of the search box.

Orlowski writes:
"Microsoft disabling third-party toolbars" and "it does raise ominous echoes of Microsoft previous tactics of foreclosing competition by hiding the alternatives"

Fact: As Scoble notes, the general manager of IE has said that there is nothing in product that blocks Yahoo! or Google toolbars from working.  Nobody is hiding any alternatives.

Fact: the following toolbars are working correctly on my machine right now

  • Google toolbar: version (GGLD)
  • Y! toolbar: version

Fact: older versions of the Y! toolbar (I believe version 5.6 and earlier) do have issues that prevent them from working in IE 7 TechBeta.  These issues were fixed in Y! toolbar versions 6 and above.

Orlowski writes: "Users with search toolbars from Yahoo! and Google have discovered that these vanish"

Fact: Some users evidently have run into problems.  But plenty of other users, including the IE test team, have not

If you are experience any issues with Yahoo! or Google toolbars, I repeat Scoble's plea: send us specific version information of your OS, IE 7 build, and toolbar build.

Update: check out  Tony Schreiner's post from May about how he implemented tabs in IE.  Note where he says:

One design decision worth calling out is that our current implementation is fully multithreaded. Each tab is on a separate thread, and the frame is also on its own thread. This has some impact on the overall footprint of IE, but we believe this will allow IE7 to feel faster and provide an overall better user experience. Internally this creates some additional complexity as we have to deal with a lot of cross-thread communication, but it also gives us a way to do things we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do with a single-threaded approach.

If you have a browser extension, like a Toolbar, that wasn't designed to be multi-thread safe, IE 7's multi-threading might cause some compatability issues.  That having been said, Tony also writes "one of the deciding factors for our design was to preserve compatibility with 3rd party applications", and I know the team has been doing a lot of test work to verify that as many extensions as possible are able to work unaltered on IE 7.

Update 2: I've been told by the IE team that the code to migrate toolbar settings when upgrading from IE 6 to IE 7 was one of the later items checked in for the TechBeta.  So users with older interim builds of IE 7 might have seen a problem where toolbars weren't migrated properly.  But again, all evidence I have is that this is working great in the actual TechBeta release.

Update 3: If you're having toolbar problems, let us know the following (as of right now, I only see know of one person reporting an issue in Scoble's comments):

1) what version does IE 7 report? (Help->About IE)
2) go to Tools->Manage Add-ons.  do you see entries for Google (of type Toolbar) and Google Toolbar Helper (of type Browser Helper Object), or Yahoo! Toolbar?  If so, what status do they report?  If you right click on the IE toolbar area, do you see your toolbar show up in the context menu?  can you enable it that way?
3) what version of the toolbar are you running?  if you managed to get the toolbar working, use it get the version number (Google: click the Google drop down, Help->About Google Toolbar, Yahoo!: click the pencil, choose About Yahoo! Toolbar).  If not, the version number of the DLL would help (on my machine, Google is in program files\google\googleToolbar2.dll, Y! in program files\yahoo!\companion\installs\cpn\yt.dll)

Update 4: Orlowski has updated his post to correct the claim about only using MSN as search provider, and to agree that the latest version of Y! toolbar works fine. But he still says "The default search engine is MSN Search", which isn't what I saw on my machine (neither did Adam), and I'm still looking for anyone who has experienced a problem with the Google toolbar to let me know.

Why do we care so much about this? Because 1) if there's a problem, we want to fix it, and 2) misinformation spreads

Comments (5)

  1. Kieron Lawson says:

    Fact: implementing tabs in IE as individual threads is hardly a huge shift; fact is that since IE5 the File..New Window opens the new window in a new thread in the current process.

    That’s why most IE toolbars developed in Delphi have had stability problems – Delphi’s VCL has a number of problems that discourage multithreadedness and which require workarounds.

    So any IE toolbar worth its salt has needed to be thread-safe since IE5.

    I suspect that the IE7 implementation was effectively a simpler path to delivering tab-based-browsing than any other option. It is, after all, not that difficult to shoehorn one window inside another.

    In which case, this whole "toolbars need to be thread-safe diagnosis" would be a red-herring, right?

  2. Peter Vine says:

    Well they didn’t get the fact wrong about Rob’s E-mail saying "Yup, trying to find out what’s up on that one. It did it for me too. Wiped them out." in reference to IE7 zapping his toolbars too 😛

    In reference to bashing the bastion of aggressive IT journalism "don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched" 😉

  3. The very public spat between Microsoft’s über-blogger, Robert Scoble, and The Register’s Andrew Orlowski…

  4. The very public spat between Microsoft’s über-blogger, Robert Scoble, and The Register’s Andrew Orlowski…

Skip to main content