Featured Freeware: Avant Browser

There's a Web browser out there for everybody, and Avant should appeal to those users who like their customization in-house and built on an IE-rendering engine.

There's a Web browser out there for everybody, and Avant should appeal to those users who like their customization in-house and built on an IE-rendering engine. Avant takes off in a different direction from Internet Explorer, though. It's IE if it were being produced by a small firm instead of Microsoft.

The browser is sufficiently zippy, preloaded with two dozen similar skins as well as tabbed browsing and modular toolbars. The Menu bar, though, is counterintuitively pinned to the upper-right corner, and icons for proprietary functions, such as an in-page search term highlighting toggle, aren't instantly comprehensible.

Avant can save personalized data online, making bookmarks and form content accessible from any machine. Avant includes many features that are available to Firefox users only through plug-ins, such as automatic form fillers. The Full Screen view auto hides all menu bars, a nice touch, but certain plug-ins--notably Flash--don't work on Windows Vista.

Avant is a good browser with some nice built-in features and interface-customization options, but the lack of extensibility and Vista problems don't help. We recommend it to XP users who want a Microsoft-based engine but think that Internet Explorer 7 is a pain.

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