Internet Explorer (IE) 8, a first beta of which Microsoft is preparing to show off at its Mix '08 conference this week, includes a number of new features, including WebSlices and Activities.
Microsoft is touting the two new technologies on an IE 8 Beta 1 Welcome page that was visible on the Web on March 4.
This is how Microsoft describes WebSlices, a feature allowing Web sites to connect to their users by subscribing to content directly within a Web page
"Developers can mark parts of webpages as 'WebSlices' and enable users to monitor information they rely on as they move about the web. With a click in the Favorites bar, users see rich 'WebSlice' visuals and developers establish a valuable, persistent end-user connection."
And this is the company's description of Activities, which are contextual services for accessing a service from any Web page. Activities are designed to make copying and pasting between Web pages easier to do, Microsoft says.
"Activities give users ready access to the online services they care about most from any page they visit, and developers gain an easy way to extend the reach of their online services. It’s as simple as selecting text to get started with an Activity."
Other new features coming in IE8 Beta 1 include a new favorites bar, automatic crash recovery and an improved phishing filter that includes a new "Safety Filter."
One of Microsoft's goals with IE 8 is to provide developers with built-in tools that will circumvent the need for them to switch behind the browser and a separate development environment. The tools will be useful for professionals and "those trying CSS and scripting for the first time," according to the company.
Microsoft is expected to field a private test build of IE 8 first, most likely as soon as this week. Some time after that, the company is planning to open up IE 8 Beta 1 to the public. There is still no word from Microsoft on when it is planning to release the final version of its IE 8 browser.
Microsoft officials said earlier this week that the company is planning to make "super-standards" mode the default for IE8. Originally, the company was planning to default to the existing IE 7 standards mode, a plan which angered many standards advocates.