Microsoft has officially releases the pre-release version of Internet Explorer 7 for beta 2 testing. The release is the first major upgrade to the Internet Explorer since the last major upgrade to current version of Internet Explorer half a decade ago, in 2001.

The new Internet Explorer 7, or simply IE7 gets a major face lift with a new clean, sleek and streamlined user interface, which will make your surfing experience and access to important functionality much easier. The optimized design of the user interface also makes the viewing area slightly bigger.

A inline search box has also been built-in into IE7, which you may choose using your favorite search engine, including Google. Besides, users can now read RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds by clicking on an icon on the IE7 browser that will automatically add the feeds to the favorites folder on the browser. Also new is Favorites Center, that let users easily manage favorite websites, browsing history, and RSS feeds with just a few clicks.

The major theme of IE 7 is the focus on security. Thus, a lot of security-oriented features has been added. One of these features will be anti-phishing technology. Phishing Filter warns surfers of suspicious sites that might attempt to collect your personal information. Phishing is the term that use to describe sites that look legitimate but actually are designed to capture your personal information. Another security enhancement is an IP traffic encryption capability that will help prevent electronic eavesdroppers from modifying data before it reaches your machine or redirecting you silently to malicious servers.

Another long awaited feature is tabbed browsing, which allows users to switch multiple web sites within an Internet Explorer window. With it, users can better manage simultaneous surfing of a number of web sites.

However, IE 7 doesn’t have pop up blocking feature, although this can be easily resolved by install external toolbar, which many users use nowadays anyway.

Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview is free, but will only run on Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2 installed. For more information, visit Internet Explorer 7 website. To download IE 7 Beta 2 Preview, go here. You will need a genuine Windows OS and pass WGA check to install IE7.

Update: IE7 Beta 2