“Less noise. Seriously.” Ryan 10 Feb 2006

68 comments Latest by Marius

This fellow compares the new IE7 toolbar with Safari. Click the image to draw your own conclusions.

IE7/Safari comparison

68 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Matt Pennig 10 Feb 06

I tried out Beta 2 the other day. It was *very* aggrivating to have to move my mouse all the way across my window just to hit the refresh button instead of just going to the right of the forward/back buttons where it SHOULD be. There are too many buttons, and I found myself reaching into the submenus on the bottom right.

And then I made the menu bar appear. What a huge mistake it was to put that *beneath* the URL bar.

Bad game, Microsoft. Bad game.

Noah 10 Feb 06

Looks close to me.

Small buttons are hard to hit, I give em both a thumbs down.

Tim L 10 Feb 06

Haha.. did anyone read the comments on the microsoft blog.. there are hundreds..

Constructive Comment:

“What is the reasoning behind diverging from common GUI conventions? Usability principles tell us that our interfaces should be consistent and appeal to the knowledge the user is likely to know. If you go against these principles, you should have a good reason for it. For instance, not only do you hide the menubar (and then replicate it with toolbar buttons with pull-down menus), when it is unhidden it’s not at the top of the window. Both of these goes against years of user expectation and experience. And for what benefit? It doesn’t appear to give any obvious usability advantages. I know this won’t be the final interface but, in my option, it looks like the interface is being changed with little thought about usability and making change for changes sake.” — Neil Hammond

Non-Constructive Comment:

“Yes, lets just forget doing anything adventurous, or inovative because it goes against “common GUI conventions”. :rolleyes: I forget, that is why FireFox has so many extensions to customize the UI.

Now for my review: Awesome.

Cookie Management: Awesome
Quick Tabs: Very Very Cool
UI: Good (could be better), but thanks for removing the useless buttons 95% of users never touch.

Needs Work: Tab management. Suggestion 1: add Close Tab to right click. Suggestion 2: Better Navigation through…..GESTURES GESTURES GESTURES! ;-)” — RWF

How can we overcome that mindset?

My two cents..

Someone 10 Feb 06

It seems that Microsoft just can’t design anything to look appealing. The same way McDonalds suffers from atrocious advertising campaigns.

Maybe, once you become a MegaCorp, the trees get lost in the forest.

Don Wilson 10 Feb 06

IE7 can do a hell of a lot more as well.

Brad Lauster 10 Feb 06

Oops…I meant the frist three buttons from the LEFT in Safari.

Noah 10 Feb 06

“tried out Beta 2 the other day. It was *very* aggrivating to have to move my mouse all the way across my window just to hit the refresh button instead of just going to the right of the forward/back buttons where it SHOULD be. There are too many buttons, and I found myself reaching into the submenus on the bottom right.”

Press F5

Brian Shih 10 Feb 06

Just a heads up. Your image links to a relative URL so when I clicked from Bloglines it gave me a 404 - not sure if you meant to do that.

manuel 10 Feb 06

i have no constructive comment, but what is wrong with the microsoft design team?

i.e. check out the shades… the top bar shades all way from top to bottom of the bar, the searchglass-button looks like a typical dashboard/apple plastic-shade and the tabs have another kind of shade as well. how can one work in such a poorly/randomly designed evironment? (i guess the whole os looks like this)

NoahDeah 10 Feb 06

“Press F5”

The fact that there is a keyboard shortcut doesn’t make the placement of the button any better. Furthermore, F5 is an awful choice for a keyboard shortcut, compared to Cmd-R in Safari.

Microsoft just doesn’t pay any attention go good design. They attempt to copy the aesthetics of Apple and others, but do so so badly as to be counterproductive.

Alex Cline 10 Feb 06

Patrick, Safari has a lot of buttons you can add to the toolbar, but you have to right/control click and customize the toolbar to add them.

random8r 10 Feb 06

You’re quite right - I was looking at only the zoomed in version :-)

Jin 10 Feb 06

As a PC user, testing out the IE7 beta took a bit of learning curve… for each simple buttons that I clicked without much effort.

Aside from the ‘industry norm functions’, it definately feels like they randomaly placed the buttons compared to their older version of IE. (Though looking at the safari layout, I can sorta see the similarity)

EJC 10 Feb 06

I think Microsoft is borrowing heavily from Firefox/Safari/OmniWeb. That said, I wish the Safari’s tabs displayed the current Favicon. And the quick thumbnail tab preview looks pretty nice.

Vance 10 Feb 06

Don W: As usual, you’re a dweeb.

You may have your IE7. Seriously, take it.

Willy Wonka 10 Feb 06

JF/RS.

We’d love to here what you guys have to say about this!

Randall 10 Feb 06

Mac apps can offload menu items to the top-of-the-screen menu bar; IE has to put everything in its window. Just saying.

Samo 10 Feb 06

Actually I think Microsoft is just pleasing their customers. The ones simply impressed by a lot of colorful buttons and no sense for aesthetics or ergonomics whatsoever.

I’m usually not one to go all Mac-using-elistist-asshole when comparing the two platforms, but microsoft often makes it really hard not to just think “You get what you deserve.”. Just think how much money that company has and yet they are unable to get a good art director on board.

I wonder if their artists get payed by the gradient and amount of different colors used…

Nick 10 Feb 06

First I think this is more like comparing apples and… oranges both browsers but inherently different. Since Windows has to put all of the menus and functions in the window of the application it is already at a disadvantage with space and visual clutter.

I like the “expose” inside the IE7 window where you can see all the tabs.

In the end is it all about the users. If they are going to change the UI the need to do so in a way that doesn’t alienate users. I would think Microsoft would be wise enough now to do user testing on the browser. Maybe it will catch on….*shrugs*

Atleast they asked Mozilla if they could standardise their RSS icon. So someone at Microsoft is saying the right things…

I’m like many of us wondering where is the innovation that Microsoft used to be known for?

*flicks two cents*

Wilkins Hyundai and Subaru 11 Feb 06

I have a hunch that the problem is more than skin deep. After working (actually, working is not the right word; more like suffering) with Micro$oft’s Sharepoint for a while, I’ve realized that their problem lies in the consciously made decision to disregard and deride any industry standards. And that applies to both the back-end and the front-end aspects of software.

If you ever look at the markup that Micro$oft products spew, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Absolute and utter disrespect for any semantics.

That being the case, it absolutely shouldn’t be surprising that they are utterly incapable of offering any coherent user experience. If you can’t produce even a trace of a meaningful markup for the content you serve, what’s to be expected of the other aspects of what you serve?

This latest batch of Micro$oft disasters is definitelly the last nail in the coffin of the ‘desktop wanting to rule the internet’ mindset.

Matt/SLAPSHOTW 11 Feb 06

Brad,

Although pressing Command-T or some other keyboard shortcut is probably faster than clicking a button on the toolbar, most users don’t bother to learn keyboard shortcuts or features that are less-than-obvious. Having a “new tab” button would increase user awareness of a new (to most) very helpful feature, which I believe is justification to add another button.

-Matt

james Bowskill 11 Feb 06

Brad, I agree that adding buttons can do more harm than good, but it would be nice to have it as an optional like in Apple’s Mail.app, where you can add additional (some might say “advanced”) buttons to the default toolbar as you see fit. A little customisation wouldn’t hurt.

I personally agree that Command-T is the fastest way, but there are times when I’ve wished for that button (for example coffee in one hand, mouse in other, want to open a bookmark in a new tab). Granted, we’re talking a second or so difference, but nobody could say Apple hasn’t made Mac OS as good as it is without attention at that level.

Observer 11 Feb 06

I don’t get your point here: Compare it to Firefox and the difference is even less. Nobody exspected Microsoft to reinvent wheels (or tabs in this case).

Scott Meinzer 11 Feb 06

I don’t get your point here: Compare it to Firefox and the difference is even less. Nobody exspected Microsoft to reinvent wheels (or tabs in this case).

The point they are trying to make with the post is not about they reinvented the wheel, as you said, they didn’t.

The point of this post is how even with examples like Safari’s and Firefox’s, Microsoft can still botch up their “simple” ui.

By not following their own guidelines on menu placement, overloading me with the fisher price colors, and four different types of buttons.

Perhaps the problem is that they did try and reinvent the wheel, but made it a triangle in the process.

Veracon 11 Feb 06

I think they both look ugly, but my main problem with IE7 is that they *had* to make it not use the Windows chrome. Did it ever strike them that some people may LIKE that over their plastic look?

Rahul 11 Feb 06

Unfortunately this entire discussion is basically useless since we all know IE7 is going to look a certain way and it will be used anyway and probably remain the most used browser as well. So might as well get used to it and save the energy for productive things.

Matt Turner 11 Feb 06

First time i used IE7 beta2 was to test a site i was working on from my local network. I had to click a few times to get rid of the notice that was telling me IE thought the site was phishing and trying to impersonate another site.

Of course the layout may change, there are loads of ways IE could be made simpler. How about removing the button for RSS which is greyed out most of the time anyway, and using the button in the address bar like Safari / FireFox does?

What is cool on IE’s built in RSS reader though, was that you can filter an RSS fead by category if it comes from a blog set up with them.

But yeah, seperate stop and refresh buttons are stupid. The fact they need the double right pointing arrows to get more crappy menus up before you’ve even loaded any tabs is awful.
I think it is generally speaking - hideous… let’s hope they get it sorted by the time it’s released.

Jens Meiert 11 Feb 06

I don’t care about comparing the IE7 GUI with Safari’s, I care about that it got worse than ever. The UI is cluttered, and it definitely makes no sense to scatter the entire top area with buttons as it is right now. Also, there certainly were no user tests, as they will have never noticed the relocated Reload/Cancel button, for example (me, I discovered it after twenty minutes and after having used F5 and ESC for about the same time then).

andee 11 Feb 06

I am glad M$ took Apple’s approach to closing tabs (X is on the tab) instead of Firefox’s fixed position (far right) for all tabs, and the tab needs to be highlighted first before you close it.

Although, it appears that you still need to activate the tab on IE before you can close it.

Nick 11 Feb 06

James,

Click on a link and drag it to the tabs menu bar and Shazzaam! a new tab is formed. Just letting you know you can drink coffee and have your tabs too.

I have to keep remembering myself that OS X was created with a one button mouse in mind and context menus are for people who can’t create a good UI.

James Bowskill 11 Feb 06

Nick, very nice tip indeed - thanks!

Shawn Oster 11 Feb 06

Odd, before I read the comments and just from looking at the images I liked the IE one better. This is a bit like the article that said people decide if they like a website within 1/20th of a second, but they don’t exactly know why.

Good design gets you to a point, then personal preference, and past experience takes over. Personally I don’t understand the Safari shot as I haven’t used Apple since a IIc, what do the different colored balls mean? Are they buttons maybe? Or do they light-up and show keyboard state or something, like caps lock?

Oh, does Safari not read favicons? It’s just showing a blue globe instead of the logo? I do like that the button to add the site as a favorite is right next to the address bar though.

I give Microsoft points for getting their browser to a point where it can go toe to toe with Safari amoungest the art-nerd crowd and you have a mixed crowd.

Shawn Oster 11 Feb 06

Odd, before I read the comments and just from looking at the images I liked the IE one better. This is a bit like the article that said people decide if they like a website within 1/20th of a second, but they don’t exactly know why.

Good design gets you to a point, then personal preference, and past experience takes over. Personally I don’t understand the Safari shot as I haven’t used Apple since a IIc, what do the different colored balls mean? Are they buttons maybe? Or do they light-up and show keyboard state or something, like caps lock?

Oh, does Safari not read favicons? It’s just showing a blue globe instead of the logo? I do like that the button to add the site as a favorite is right next to the address bar though.

I give Microsoft points for getting their browser to a point where it can go toe to toe with Safari amoungest the art-nerd crowd and you have a mixed crowd.

Jack Asher 11 Feb 06

IE Looks better to me… anything to get away from that nasty brushed metal look - yuk!

I’ll most likely be sticking with Firefox anyway.

Trinket 11 Feb 06

Shawn: I would say IE has a ways to go before it goes toe-to-toe with anything. IE is dead to me.

Kevin 11 Feb 06

I can’t believe I’m saying this after years of mocking AOL for bad design and crappy products, but Microsoft should hire AOL to design IE 7’s interface. The new AOL browser (which uses IE 6 to render pages) is beautiful. I downloaded it to test it out since I have a client with many AOL using customers and found the toolbars are well placed, the colors are tasteful, it’s not a memory hog, and the tabbed browsing features were really cool.

It’s got an Expose style feature for tabs that shows all your open tabs. And when you click on one it shows a nive timline of thumbnails for that tabs history, all done ina nice transparent overlay.

The RSS and favorites features are well implemeted - attractive and easy to use. It has online bookmark syncing between browsers.

Interface wise it’s pretty much everything MS could ask for in IE 7. I say they should buy AOL’s interface and just focus on fixing up the rendering engine to display CSS correctly.

Also, Safari is way prettier and easier to use than IE & Beta 2.

MH 11 Feb 06

re: the gradients and kandy kolors, it does indeed look like MS just got a peek at OS X Developer Preview 1.

I have to say, though, about the comments that MS doesn’t have decent designers or art directors: It’s pretty likely that they do. But it’s also quite possible that their decisions get overridden by dipshit managers…I can easily imagine Bill Gates trying to get all hands-on with the UI like Steve Jobs but totally fucking it up. :P

Kyle Schembri 11 Feb 06

Well ofcourse its the same, its a freak’n web browser. Compare safari to firefox BAM the same, compare IE to firefox, BAM the same.

Browser are based on the same design, forward buttons back buttons stop refresh home and then the address bar. All buttons are always to the left unless you move it.

Duh!

Sebhelyesfarku 12 Feb 06

My conclusions:
brushed metal looks crap
tabs hanging from top look stupid

Javier Cabrera (CSSelite) 12 Feb 06

I think they should reconsider doing another IE. It won’t be the best for all if they just, take away their browser? isn’t a market for them, they aren’t selling anything, it comes with the operating system. Why don’t recommend something like firefox which is free instead of creating one and hurting THE USER AND THE DEVELOPER COMMUNITY.

They even know how time we spend “fixing” our code because of their stupid mistakes? if anyone measure how much time a developer spends on that through 10 years of practice, I think we could take them to court.

But of course, they won’t lose. Anyway… I only hope we don’t have to touch code because their lack of professionalism.

Javier Cabrera
Emaginacion

Javier Cabrera (CSSelite) 12 Feb 06

Ah, and by the way; the interface could be better. They own a million dollar corporation, there is no argument for an interface like that one.

No, we don’t expect a million dollar corporation with hundreds of people working for them re-inventing the wheel, of course not.

How they are going to do that? they just have unlimited money, capability to hire the best of the best in UI design out there, amazingly office space and commodities between other stuff; you can’t expect excellence on those conditions.

Cheers,
Javier Cabrera
Emaginacion
P.S.: I was being sarcastic.

Wayne 12 Feb 06

omfg, you people are ridiculous.

JD 12 Feb 06

Where is the “Home” button in Safari?

Adrian 13 Feb 06

There isn’t much in it, to be honest, but I’d say from the pictures that IE comes out slightly ahead. Neither of them are great.

Someone earlier mentioned Fitts’s Law. Both UIs disregard this by making the crucially-important back/forward buttons much too small. This might cut down on visual “clutter”, but the primary purpose of a UI is to be used, not to be looked at and admired. That is something which Apple often forget, much to their detriment and that of their users.

So, make the buttons bigger, or at least make it a user preference like in Konqueror, where you can select a button size from 16x16, 22x22, 32x32, 48x48. On my screen, the biggest size gives inch-high buttons, if that’s what you want or need. There is a sensible default. Everyone wins.

Fitts’s Law, for those that don’t know, says that the time taken for the user to reach a clickable target with a mouse is a factor of how far away they are from it and how big the target it. Sounds obvious, but it’s both widely known and widely ignored. Big buttons make for easy clicking as they require much less accuracy. You don’t need to make every button big, just the primary ones in a UI.

People that create web photo galleries where you can click on the large image to step to the next one in the sequence are applying Fitts’s Law, whether they know it or not. Another consequence is that if you place a button/target on the edge of the screen, you make it infinitely large in that direction, hence, as mentioned above, Apple’s menu bar on the top of the screen is easy to use, because you can slam the mouse up and you can’t overrun it in the vertical direction. You just need to steer it sideways to the option you want.

Use of colour is another important UI factor because it adds easily-assimilated differentiation to the various widgets. Again, not everything needs to be differentiated with a unique colour, just the primary buttons. Windows XP gets this right by putting the window close button in red and keeping maximise and minimise in the default colours. By contrast Mac OS so nearly tries to get this right, but just gives us “traffic lights” and stupidly, doesn’t differentiate the buttons by anything except colour. If you’re rapidly moving between various different OSes or you’re just new to the Mac, distinguishing maximise from minimise is a pain. And what about those who are colour blind? The WAI web accessibility guidelines say not to distinguish things solely by colour, but that’s exactly what Mac OS does with its main window controls.

Tabs hanging from the top totally break the visual metaphor that links the tabs with the window contents below. One down for Apple, there, trying very hard to be “different” and getting it woefully wrong. Doubtless an Apple car would have the steering wheel on the roof.

Favicons matter. Aesthetic purists might not want their beautiful UI defaced with random web designers’ low-res, low-colour icons, but for the user they provide a wonderful way to easily distinguish window tabs and bookmarks without reading the text. The first five minutes of thinking seriously about UIs tells you that people don’t really read the text. There’s no reasonable justification for Safari not supporting favicons. It’s just Apple cutting off their users’ noses to spite their faces, really. Favicons greatly improve usability and they’re free. Use them.

Reload needs to be near to forward/back, so that’s one up for Safari and one down for IE. Likewise, the X-button at the right-hand end of IE’s location bar is presumably for clearing the URL text, but it’s too similar to a window close. (Or does it close the current tab?) That’s very confusing.

In summary, from those pics I’d give IE about 6/10 and Safari 4/10.

It’d be nice to see 37signals expressing an opinion, too, rather than all this nudge-nudge make-your-own-mind-up stuff.

Mr Anonymous 13 Feb 06

Nice!

I especially like this picture form the ieblog site : http://ieblog.members.winisp.net/images/fileeditview.JPG

Reminds me of Word 2.0… Oh no, it;s going to double as a web based word processor isn’t, erm, like Flock.

Web 2.0 comes to MS. God help us.

Daryl 13 Feb 06

I think the BIG difference that I have not seen anyone mention yet is that the Safari interface is largely monochromatic, where MS typically has lots of colors in lots of places. This eliminates much of the visual clutter and allows you to focus on content.

Also: The main problem I have with icons nowadays is that it’s nearly impossible to tell what an icon means until you ‘learn’ it … I actually have leaned more toward spelling things out in interfaces where normally icons might go.

Here’s a great example: Those of you who use Basecamp know the little bugs that go before new entries on the dashboard — 37S spells out each action (and uses color very well in this case) … can you imagine trying to determine 12 different little icons on that page? Not.

Well done, 37S!

Gayle 13 Feb 06

That’s a whole lotta crap on that IE7 bar. Of course, there’s a whole lotta crap on my IE6 bar, too.

I don’t even use buttons. I use keyboard shortcuts and mouse/pen customizations - for instance, when I’m in IE, my regular double-click on my pen is the Back button, and my regular right-click is the forward. It’s fantastic. CTRL+R is refresh. Escape makes annoying animations go away (unless they’re flash, which, argh). The only buttons I use are Home, my customized Links bar, and if I’m designing a site, I use Refresh so I can press CTRL+SHIFT to force a reload.

Although I do have to say, I tried the smaller buttons in IE and I changed them back, it slowed me down because it took longer to find just those two buttons.

Apart from the UI, does anybody know how this new IE is going to handle CSS? That’s what’s frightening me.

Eden J. 13 Feb 06

I do not really see much of a similarity between Safari and IE7. If it’s a copy, it’s a bad one and I would also tend to think that if MSFT wants to copy something they will just rip all of it, so similarities are probably not something to read much into.

The only problem, in my mind, is the separation of the back/forward buttons and the refresh button. That just does not make any sense and it was the first flaw I noticed. Other than that, the browser seems fine and a majority of CSS bugs seem to be fixed so I will try not to complain too much.

Paul 13 Feb 06

Adrian: And what about those who are colour blind? The WAI web accessibility guidelines say not to distinguish things solely by colour, but that’s exactly what Mac OS does with its main window controls.

However, there are a number of accessibility options in OS X, including the ability to adjust the screen’s contrast or turn off color altogether and use B&W or W&B.

Not sure if Windows has this as well. But frankly, that’s something that should be handled at the OS level and it is. And besides, you’re talking about web accessibility and not OS accessibility.

pwb 13 Feb 06

Where is the “Home” button in Safari?

Safari does have a Home button and it’s defaulted on. I suspect the author of this post, like me, removed it.

The Home button has always struck me as absurd. Is there really *one* web site that you visit so much that it deserves its own button like that?

Simon 13 Feb 06

Well the Refresh button isn’t in the ideal place but it could well move when they launch - but apart from that it’s not as bad as some are making out in my opinion.

I can’t help but thinking if those two designs were the other way round, people would still bash the Microsoft example.

Paul Thrasher 13 Feb 06

It looks like Microsoft suffers from the same sort of critisism as 37S. They release some beta software, say “THIS IS A BETA. Please break it! The real software will be better with your help!” Then people immediately begin to critisize them as if they’ve shoved this software into millions of homes and thrown the Earth out of orbit.

I’m sure that if we can respond to their request instead of heckling them, we can help them create a better browser that we’d all love to use. It’s much easier to critisize but they are reaching out and asking for help. What do you guys think?

August 13 Feb 06

Is there really *one* web site that you visit so much that it deserves its own button like that?

Actually, yes. I made it myself and it’s a launch-point with links all my regularly visited sites and links to a wide variety of net-based tools and resources. Very handy, actually.

huxley 14 Feb 06

@ Simon

I can’t help but thinking if those two designs were the other way round, people would still bash the Microsoft example.

Nice troll. There has been plenty of criticism of the Safari browser and it has improved over time (heck if you just followed the link you’d see Wolf’s first take on it was “My God, they’ve made metal look good.”) It’s not that Safari is perfect, but that IE7 is a mess.

@Paul

“THIS IS A BETA. Please break it! The real software will be better with your help!”

If you publicly release substandard UI as Beta, why should anyone believe that the “real software” is going to be any better? A UI can be unfinished without it being cobbled together.

This does not inspire confidence, rather it suggests that Microsoft is in a panic trying to release something that is competitive with Firefox, Opera and Safari. (Note that I don’t think Firefox or the other browsers are going to take over the web anytime soon, but Microsoft has been losing several battles lately and MS is not a company that likes being beaten badly).

Simon 14 Feb 06

@huxley

Yep probably should have steered clear of the questioning of it being bashed just for being Microsoft as that gets you bashed too.

I still think if you consider how far behind they are coming from then the UI isn’t as bad as is made out - and as Paul said I am sure there will be further refinements based on the feedback from the beta - both in functionality and the UI.

pwb 15 Feb 06

One interesting thing is that they have hidden the menu bar by default. It only shows up when you press “Alt”. In my mind this reinfroces that the browser should be a simple little HTML/HTTP rendering widget, not a bloated application.

Elliot Anderson 15 Feb 06

Im surprised that noone has mentioned that Safari does actually have favicons. The blue globe in the URL bar is the default favicon when none is selected.

They don’t show the favicon in the tab drawer, which I think is a good thing because it maintains uniformity.

ninetnine 16 Feb 06

you may have your 7 and eat it too. still won’t bring me over. i don’t get all warm and fuzzy when i hear that “yeah, ok. since everyone kept screaming about being ‘web compliant’ we’ll see what we can do.” does this mean i can now build 1 web page and not 1 for this browser, 1 for thisone and another for this one? no

safari? too slow

.jonah 17 Feb 06

I will only say one thing about Safari and I don’t bother going further until it is fixed. ;)

To reiterate a critical flaw in Safari: The tabs are upside down!

The tabs should visually connect to the thing they are tabbing - the pages not the quick link bar above as they do in the current design.

MoQal 18 Feb 06

The “upside down” tabs are in fact a very smart UI choice; they consolidate the main address bar and the page beautifully. If one company knows how to get UI right its apple….don’t mess.

Marius 26 Sep 06

I had IE7 on my pc for about 10min. I hate the new look. What was MS thinking? What was wrong with the way the old toolbars worked or for that matter where they were. I’m all for change But MS really messed things up. I will be avoiding IE7 as long as it will be possible.

I tried it out in my internet cafe. The customers hated it. Most of them could not find the buttons they wanted to use and there were endless complaints about the command and tab bars taking up to much space. They wanted to know how to get rid of them. Of course there is not.

It would seem that MS thinks we are children who need to be locked out of cutomising the way we like things to look.
bad job MS.

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