Microsoft has also significantly changed the way "browse in a
new process" works in IE 5.01. In previous versions of Internet
Explorer, there was an option in Advanced Options to allow each
browser window to open in a new process. When selected, this meant
that each browser window controlled its own memory space: If one
browser window crashed, it couldn't take down the whole operating
system, a pretty embarrassing problem when you're integrating the
Web browser into the OS. In IE 5.01, this feature is not available
as a user-selectable option. Instead, Microsoft has hard-coded
behavior into the system based on the amount of RAM installed. If
the system has 32MB of RAM or more, this feature is turned on by
default. Otherwise, it's off. Frankly, this was a good decision:
There's no reason for a user to need to tweak this kind of feature.
Another new feature reuses existing browser windows when a shortcut is launched, if desired. Available in Advanced Options, selecting "Reuse Windows for Launching Shortcuts" will use an existing browser window when a URL is opened from a shortcut or other non-browser entity (Figure 3). Otherwise, a new browser window will open. As someone who is frustrated every time a new link opens over an existing Web page, I'll definitely be unselecting this option. Kudos to Microsoft for including it.
Internet Explorer is also smarter about installing, upgrading, and uninstalling. When you choose to install or upgrade Internet Explorer 5.01 or higher, the Active Setup routine scans your system for IE files and only downloads and installs files that are newer than the ones currently on the system. This nicely reduces the amount of time it takes to do the upgrade, a nice touch. When uninstalling Internet Explorer 5.01, the previous version of IE is automatically restored since setup automatically saves this information for you. Previous versions of IE had sporadic problems with this feature in certain conditions.
Outlook Express received a few changes as well, such as the ability to request a read receipt on email (Figure 5) . This feature notifies you when email that you've sent is read, and it was previously only available in Microsoft's expensive Outlook 2000. Outlook Express also includes some new stationary, for those who are into that sort of thing.
But Microsoft has done users wrong by including an advertising pane when reading HotMail in Outlook Express (Figure 4). Hotmail support was first included in IE 5.0, but this new version ads an irritating pane at the bottom of the OE window that flashes advertisements when working with HotMail. Boo and hiss to the marketing dweebs that obviously demanded this feature. (Tip: If you do upgrade to IE 5.01, simply unselected "Outlook Express," and you can continue to use the previous version from IE 5.0 and not have to deal with that ads.)
Bugs, security violations, and other issues, oh my
Internet Explorer 5.01 fixes an unbelievable number of bugs and it is for this reason that most IE users will want to upgrade. Security problems and bugs of every nature were fixed, including some nasty ones that can leave IE 5.0 systems open to hacking attacks. Microsoft has a full list of bug fixes on its Web site, if you're interested in the gory details.