In general, I think tabs are a great idea. I liked them a lot in Office dialogs and in Excel in the early 90's. (I used to work on Office, and I admit we almost added tabs to Word at one point.) I like them in Visual Studio. I think, as an industry, we have a ways to go in refining the experience, consistency, and value of tabs.
The main goal for tabs in our beta release is to make sure our implementation delivers on compatibility and security. The variety of IE configurations and add-ins across the Internet is tremendous. We want feedback on how it works with add-ins that you run (or have written), with the sites that you visit, and with the line of business applications, accessibility tools, management and development tools that you run. We've also looked closely at reported vulnerabilities in other implementations of tabbed browsing. We're looking forward to feedback from the security community as well.
The tabbed browsing experience in the upcoming IE7 beta is pretty basic. Expect additional end-user functionality to come in after the beta.
You can browse with tabs with IE6 (and some earlier IE versions) today in a few different ways. Several third parties, like Maxthon, have built browser experiences with tabs on top of the IE platform. Several third parties have built toolbars to provide tabs within IE as well. MSN's recently released toolbar will also be providing support for tabs within IE when they update it in the coming months.
I think all of these are great! They demonstrate how extensible the IE platform is. They also provide tabbed browsing in IE on top of Windows versions ( like Win98 ) that IE7 will not support.
Some people have asked why we didn't put tabs in IE sooner. Initially, we had some concerns around complexity and consistencyÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ will it confuse users more than it benefits them? Is it confusing if IE has tabs, but other core parts of the Windows experience, like Windows Media Player or the shell, don't have tabs? I think we made the wrong decision here initially, and we're making the right one now. I'd like to ask you to post a comment with your favorite or most critical IE add-insÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ we want to make sure IE7 works great with them.
Okay, now I wonder when we will see native supported tabbed browsing for Windows Mobile? Windows Mobile 5.0 is lacking it still and I'm so used to use tabbed browsing with my current Pocket PCs, thanks to Peter's MultiIE for Pocket PC. Now I hope Peter will find the time and way to port MultiIE to Windows Mobile 5.0!