No new changes in this latest build of IE 7 from Microsoft, except for more stability and application compatibility, but this browser still is not ready for prime time.
Installation of IE 7 RC1, however, requires that antivirus protection be turned off--an unusual requirement for an Internet browser installation--as well as a full reboot of your test system. Most competing Internet browsers are simply "download and use."
As for features, much has already been written about the tabbing capabilities within IE 7, and RC1 introduces nothing new here. IE 7 RC1 lets you move the tabs as you can within Firefox. Microsoft has also added the ability to visually display all open tabs but in a separate page, not via a mouseover, as you can within Opera. Another feature borrowed from Opera is zoom. You can wheel in or wheel out on a page, which is perfect for those with less than 20/20 vision.
Perhaps the most significant security enhancement is the new antiphishing component. Using heuristics, or algorithms, rather than white lists, Internet Explorer can analyze a given page and determine whether it's the real McCoy or a spoofed page. Should you land on a suspicious site, you'll see a golden bar across the top of the page. You'll have a chance to correct any errors, saving pages you know are not frauds but that may appear so within IE. In testing on live phishing sites, however, IE 7 RC1 failed to identify as many phishing sites as Netcraft's free IE toolbar.
Microsoft raises the bar on its own security, with a default Medium High setting on its security zone. If you ever need to lower the security zone settings--say, to install new software via download--you'll see a golden bar across the top of the screen, reminding you that you are now surfing under less-than-secure settings. You can use a one-click menu option to change the zone settings back. Microsoft has also neutered all but the most essential ActiveX Controls. If you need more, you'll be asked to activate them on a case-by-case basis. This should limit criminal-hacker attack vectors within IE 7.
Continuing within this release candidate is a complete Really Simple Syndication (RSS) substructure (hence, the reason for the reboot when you install the new IE 7 build). New RSS feeds automatically render as a fairly basic representation of all the current feeds for that page, plus any categorizing the site has done regarding specific topics.
Borrowing from other browsers, IE 7 will automatically size a page so that when it goes to your printer, you won't lose the content on the far right side of the page. The text may be smaller, but the text will be complete. You also have the ability to print only a highlighted section of a Web page. A new feature within IE 7 adds an address bar to every pop-up window, allowing you to determine whether you want to view that content (advertising, for example). Like Shrink to Fit, this feature is currently available in Firefox. And, although, Firefox and Opera have offered this One Click Cleanup of cookies, browser cached items, and temporary files for years, Microsoft has finally made it easy for anyone to delete their browser history and personal information with single click.
In all, IE 7 RC1 merely plays catch-up with the current releases of Firefox and Opera without pushing the envelope--and both alternative browsers are at work now on new releases due near the release of IE 7. For the office that can't or won't switch to these more dynamic browsers, IE 7 for XP SP2 will be a welcomed change from IE 6. But for sheer innovation and (yes) secure browsing, I recommend switching to Firefox 1.5 or Opera 9 today.