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Update Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 went on a limited beta release today and contains a nasty surprise for some users.

Users with search toolbars from Yahoo! and arch-rival Google have discovered that these vanish. Other third-party toolbars designed to block pop-ups or aid with form filling appear to be working normally, according to reports from Reg readers.

The default search engine is MSN Search.

There are sound compatibility reasons for Microsoft disabling third-party toolbars in an early cut of the software. The beta is only available to Vista beta testers, and is available either as part of Vista itself or as a download for Windows XP, and affects only a few thousand people.

But it does raise ominous echoes of Microsoft's previous tactics of foreclosing competition by hiding the alternatives available to users. For anti-competive reasons, Microsoft is unlikely to risk such a move in the finished product. We'll have to see.

Microsoft last updated its web browser in August 2001 - when cellphones still had monochrome screens and Ken Lay was in charge of the invicible Enron business empire.

What does IE7 do with your toolbars? Have your toolbars been shot down? Write and let us know. ®

Update: We've received multiple corroborations of the problem. For others, everything is fine. Google Toolbar seems to bear the brunt. The most recent version of Yahoo!'s toolbar works, but older versions don't.

One gaffe: we reported that no other search engines are available. This isn't true. Microsoft rearranged the deckchairs so that alternatives including Google and Yahoo! can be made the default. Doh!

Irony corner: One user who saw their toolbar vanish in IE7 was none other than Microsoft PR punchbag Robert Scoble. But he later denied having seen any problems, in a fascinating comment thread you can peruse here.

Later in the evening, Scoble told us via email that he'd handed the problem over to the PR professionals. We must hope they have ample supplies of duct tape at the ready, to prevent the talkative blogger from causing even more damage. (That's his speciality).

Update #2: In what could be one of his final posts as a Microsoft weblogger, Scoble denied having experienced any problems.

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