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Avant remixes IE for the better

Built on Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Avant works and feels as if it were IE, but produced by a small firm instead of Microsoft.

For those who like their customization in-house, the Avant Browser's latest update might appeal to you. Built on an IE-rendering engine, Avant takes off in a different direction--IE if it were being produced by a small firm instead of Microsoft.

The browser is sufficiently fast, preloaded with two dozen similar skins as well as tabbed browsing and modular toolbars that let you move around and hide the Status bar, Toolbar, Search window, and navigation controls. 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. Around the same size as Firefox, Avant includes many features that are available to Firefox users only through plug-ins--such as automatic form fillers. The Full Screen view autohides all menu bars, a nice touch, but certain plug-ins--notably Flash--didn'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 users who want a Microsoft-based engine but think that Internet Explorer 7 is a pain.

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