First look - Internet Explorer 8 RC1

First look - Internet Explorer 8 RC1

Summary: Yesterday Microsoft made available Internet Explorer 8 RC1 (release candidate 1), which means that as far as Microsoft is concerned, IE8 is cooked and that barring anything major, this will become the final release. So, what's the new browser like?

TOPICS: Browser, Microsoft

Yesterday Microsoft made available Internet Explorer 8 RC1 (release candidate 1), which means that as far as Microsoft is concerned, IE8 is cooked and that barring anything major, this will become the final release. So, what's the new browser like?

A new release of IE is always important because this is the browser that many millions of Windows users will be surfing the web with daily. Like it or not, by the very fact that IE is knitted into every Windows installation makes this an important event.

After what seemed like years of stagnation, Microsoft is continuing the tradition of kitting out IE8 with features that users of other browsers take for granted. That said, there are very nice features built into IE8, which include:

  • Smart Address Bar The address bar isn't now just a place to type URLs into. The Smart Address bar in IE8 tries to make sense of what the user is looking for by retrieving sites visited from the history and bookmarks. This is handy for those times when you want to find something but can't remember where you saw it.
  • Enhanced find Sometimes it's not finding the site that's difficult, but finding where on the page you need to look for the information that you are after. IE8 offers a broad range of enhanced and improved tools to help you spot the information you are after. One such example if this is result highlighting.
  • Tab groups When one tab is opened from another one, the new tab is placed next to the one from which it was opened, and both are marked with a colored tab. This is a good way to keep track of your open tabs.
  • InPrivate Along with keeping track of stuff that you might later want to refer back to, IE8 also gives you powerful tools that allow the browser to have temporary amnesia in relation to the sites you've visited by temporarily halting the writing of information to the cache and history.
  • Crash recovery If your IE locks up of crashes while you've a shed-load of tabs open, with IE8 there's a good chance that when you fire up the browser again that it will remember what what sites you had open and fire them up again. It can also reload information that you had typed into forms.

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For the security-conscious IE8 includes a number of new features:

  • SmartScreen Filter Protects against phishing threats and malicious software downloads.
  • Selective deletion of history Delete some files while keeping others on the hard disk.
  • Cross-site scripting (XSS) protection XSS attacks are increasingly common and IE8 contains countermeasures to keep you safe from many of these.
  • Click-jacking protection Site owners can place tags in the header of a page to prevent it being displayed in frames from other domains.
  • Domain highlighting Scammers sometimes go to great lengths to make the domain victims are visiting hard to spot. IE8 automatically highlights the domain in bold to make it easy to spot what site you are at.
  • Per-sit and per-user ActiveX Get better control over ActiveX controls.

IE8 also takes web standards much more seriously than other previous incarnations. However, Microsoft developers realized that this would result in some sites breaking, so also present in IE8 is a feature called Compatibility View which "downgrades" the way IE8 displays web pages, making it behave like IE7. However, IE8 isn't the leader by any means when it comes to standards and only scores 20 out of a possible 100 in the ACID 3 test. Compare this to Firefox 3.2 alpha 1 nightly build which scored 93 and the current version of Google Chrome which gets 79. Meanwhile Opera 10 alpha scores 100 on the test.

From a performance point of view it's hard to get all that excited about Internet Explorer 8. Sure, it's better than IE7, and so those using Internet Explorer will see quite a performance boost, but compared to the the other browsers out there, IE8 is still a dog.


So, how best to sum up IE8? Well, it's certainly a better browser than any previous version of IE, but it's still got a long way to go before it's anywhere near being the best.

Note: XP users thinking of trying out IE8 should first read this.

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Topics: Browser, Microsoft

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  • Still no Speel check

    Well it looks like theey still didnt add speel check to IE8. That was one of the main feetures that keeps me in firefox.

    I do like that it is quite a bit faster than previous versions of IE. Also some of the new enhancement they added are quite compelling.
    • Where might the download be for RC1 IE8?

      I'll take two.
      • You kidding?

      • link
      • Where might the download be for RC1 IE8?

        me too, with ketchup please
      • If... scratch the limes and apples in the wallpaper they actually smell like real fruit...

        On the other hand, the White Rabbit and the Cheshire cat are not to be truly trusted .. and you've just had some kind of mushroom ...

        But then again, you could always look for the free giveaways in the Fruit Loop cereal packets, and ... who knows ... you may just get lucky.

    • I take it that...

      ...Gecko's closer adherence to web standards is another reason. Currently
      3.1 Beta 2 scores 93. WebKit and Presto (Opera) score 100, and IE 8 RC1
      a pitiful 21, which is better than IE 7's 14! So it looks as though our
      friends in Redmond still can't be bothered with this whole W3C thing.
      (Cue Wintards by the hundreds telling me what a stupid fanboy I am -
      BRING IT ON!!!)
      • Web Standards Aren't Done Until IE is Broken

        Used to say that about Windows and Lotus 1-2-3 ... now the "standards" crowd gets to say it.

        BTW, how did adherence to standards work out for ... Sun? They always said that their Solaris-Sparc boxes were better 'cause they followed "standards" and had a "coalition" of hardware makers to support an entire platform ...
      • Acid3 != The Web

        Actually, Acid3 was designed to broaden the list of standards being tested.
        The fact that only a couple browsers fully pass the test speaks to 1) how long it takes to solidify standards BEFORE development can begin to comply with them, and 2) the difficulties of programming to adhere to those standards.

        How many websites currently even attempt to use SVG animation? And CSS3, specifically rgba/hsla coloring? Well, SVG is a W3C standard, CSS3 isn't even a finalized recommendation yet, but they're both in Acid3.

        The Acid tests are a good measure of browser capability and compliance as features are introduced, but Acid3 is not representative of the majority of websites out there.

        i'll happily take complete CSS2.1 compliance over proprietary window skinning any day.
      • Know Thy Self

        Sir, you are the 'stupid fanboy.' If you'd come down from your ivory tower instead of hurling insults you might actually contribute something to a conversation someday.

        Anyway a 100% compliance with ACID 3, while a great accomplishment, shouldn't be the deciding factor in picking a web browser. That is just as dumb as picking your OS because of the filesystem it uses.

        Like another poster stated the ACID tests aren't the same as current web standards.
      • I love IE8 and Love.....

        I love it when I see these MS haters here that would say anything to bad mouth Microsoft....who cares...don't use IE and I/we wouldn't care a bit for your biased opinion....
      • essentially

        Why IE 8 is not going to go anywhere, though I will still have to write
        code for it, or maybe not.
    • Must have typed this with the new browser

      "Well it looks like theey still didnt add speel check to IE8."

      theey and speel, that is embarassing.
      • I think you'll find...

        .. that was "staged humour", designed to make a point.

        It only actually works however, when the person making the humorous statement, then goes on to write a perfectly written response.

        That's when it gets embarassing.
      • It appears...

        to be intentional.
    • Can be added

      I am using IE7PRO on the new release of IE8, and it seems to work fine. I would assume that there will be a IE8PRO somewhere down the line.
      • Can be added, but should have been included

        Yes, spell check can be added to IE 8, but it is shortsighted to not have included it in the build.

        I haven't tried IEPro 7 in IE 8, but I know that there have been well documented issues with IEPro 7 causing IE 7 to crash.
        • Yes, everything should be included until it is at which time it...

          ...becomes an abuse of their monopoly position.
        • Yeah, it should have been included

          Every other web browser has spell-checker built
          in: Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Flock.... whatever
          alternative browser it is, spell-check is

          There is NO reason for it not to be standard in

            you would be complaining about it being slow and bloated.