Windows 7 RC users get new IE 8 'tab responsiveness' feature

Windows 7 RC users get new IE 8 'tab responsiveness' feature

Summary: Even though Microsoft already released the final standalone version of Internet Explorer 8 (IE 8) in March, the company is continuing to add new functionality to the version of IE 8 that is bundled with Windows 7. Example: a new tab-responsiveness capability.

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Even though Microsoft already released the final standalone version of Internet Explorer 8 (IE 8) in March, the company is continuing to add new functionality to the version of IE 8 that is bundled with Windows 7.

One of the new features not in the standalone build -- but present in the version of IE 8 that is in the Windows 7 Release Candidate -- is a new tab-responsiveness capability.

One of the selling points of IE 8 is tab isolation. Tab isolation means if one tab crashes, it doesn't (necessarily) crash your whole browser. I like tab isolation. What I don't like, as I've noted previously, is the tab unresponsiveness I've had since I downloaded the final IE 8 bits on my trusty ThinkPad X60 running Windows XP.

The new tab-responsiveness feature in the IE 8 in the Windows 7 RC is designed to provide Microsoft -- and users -- with more feedback when a tab fails to open. Instead of whirring endlessly, leaving users wondering whether a Web site is down; not working with IE 8's default standards mode; or what, a new tab dialog box is designed to pop up, allowing users to shut down proactively an unresponsive tab.

In a May 4 posting on the Microsoft IE Blog, officials explained the purpose of the new dialog box:

"For the Win7 RC, we added functionality to IE8 that lowers the threshold for identifying delayed responsiveness that might be a hang. Basically, IE’s frame uses a timer, and if the tab doesn’t respond within a given interval of time, the frame gives the user the choice to recover the page, close the page, or wait for the tab to respond.

"A tab might become non-responsive like this for different reasons. The webpage in the tab might use a plug-in that is very busy pulling down a lot of video information from a slow server and then processing it. The webpage might be on an intranet (e.g. http://salarydata) and different authentication mechanisms are negotiating, slowly, what the user is allowed to see. Sometimes, it's an issue with IE. Better telemetry here is crucial in figuring out what we, as engineers, do differently here. "

There are two things I can't tell from the post and that I've asked Microsoft. One -- what is the timer setting? In other words, how long do users have to wait until the dialog box appears? And two: When (and how) will those of us running IE 8 on XP and Vista get this feature, too? I want it now!

If and when I hear back, I'll update this post.

Update (May 6): It sounds like the dialog box pop-up isn't really needed or appreciated by a number of Windows 7 testers. Microsoft has made an update available to turn off this feature in the Release Candidate. No word on if or when Microsoft will also release an update to provide us long-suffering  IE 8 users on XP and Vista with this tab-responsiveness feature. Also no word from the Softies on how much time elapses before the pop-up box appears, offering users a chance to kill an unresponsive tab.

Topics: Windows, Browser, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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18 comments
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  • Modern Day Marketing . . Annoying.

    Microsoft seems to have adopted the modern day method of marketing. Make an announcement, offer the minimum amount of information as possible and then wait for the predictable questions. This guarantees maximum exposure to the subject matter. You only had two questions, but if dozens of questions surface and they answer each one singularly this could go on for days. Effective, but annoying as hell. :)

    Regarding browsers, I think MS should just cut a deal with Mozilla/Firefox to bundle both IE8 and Firefox v3.5 together and then allow the user to select one or both ! IE8 could have Live selected as default home page and Firefox could have Google. I would take both. This frees up MS from anti-trust lawsuits and secures Live Search as a default search engine and secures Google's investment in Mozilla. It gives users a real choice and makes all the software providers happy !! :))

    Yeah, I know, never happen.
    RanRicky
    • just remoive the restrictions from installing on wine...

      [i]Regarding browsers, I think MS should just cut a deal with Mozilla/Firefox to bundle both IE8 and Firefox v3.5 together and then allow the user to select one or both ! IE8 could have Live selected as default home page and Firefox could have Google. I would take both. This frees up MS from anti-trust lawsuits and secures Live Search as a default search engine and secures Google's investment in Mozilla. It gives users a real choice and makes all the software providers happy !! :))[/i]

      I think they could kill this whole monopoly thing if they would just remove the restrictions preventing installation of MS software on Wine. Both restrictions: software and licensing. Many Linux distro's might start bundleing IE8 with Linux. Vendors could remove IE8 and bundle Firefox or Opera with Win7. It's an everyone wins situation. MS might even get a few more copies of Office sold.
      brokndodge@...
      • Everyone wins?

        Yeah, right. Just the people who don't want to pay for anything. Wine is the single most offensive open source project when it comes to blatantly ignoring intellectual property. The day Microsoft starts accommodating Wine is the day they can start to shutter the company because at that point they will have totally lost their ability to sell Windows.
        payton@...
        • Huh?

          Wine allows you to attempt to install Windows based software onto a linux box. how is this ignoring intellectual property? All it really does is allow software to run in an emulation environment.

          Given the logic you have shown here, you are saying that VMware ignores intellectual property as I could create a Windows VM inside of linux or OSX.
          xXSpeedzXx
  • RE: Windows 7 RC users get new IE 8 'tab responsiveness' feature

    I am extremely disappointed with IE8 on Vista. It crashes very frequently, seems incredibly slow to render many pages and often the transport layer seems to die (gets stuck on "Connecting to...") requiring a shutdown of all tabs.

    I am a huge MS fan but I think that across the board they have been so focused on adding security features that they have forgotten stability. Visual Studio 2008, Expression Blend, Outlook 2007, and now IE 8 are some of the buggiest pieces of software I've ever seen MS release. I really wish they would spend a year focusing on product stability in lieu of any features so I can once again get my work done quickly and without constant crashing of the key pieces of software that I use.

    Sean
    stiphy
    • RE: Windows 7 RC users get new IE 8 'tab responsiveness' feature

      Hmmmm......is it possible that something other than IE is causing is to be crappy. I have IE 8 with Vista running on an HP Pavillion dv9000 and I get no problem out of the OS or IE.

      Have you cleaned your registry recently? Doing so can greatly improve your PCs performance.
      NPGMBR
    • IE8 performance and reliability

      http://www.edbott.com/weblog/?p=2443

      Go here to see about a problem that fixed the performance issues on the two machines that were slow running IE8 here.

      Every reliability problem I had on several machines was caused by an add on which was not yet IE8 compatible. Give the vendors a few months and this should stop. To test:

      click Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | IE No Add Ons
      mswift@...
  • RE: Windows 7 RC users get new IE 8 'tab responsiveness' feature

    This is good news, but at the speeds I'm getting with IE 8 on XP or Vista i'm more concened with the overall speed of IE8.

    Just "about:blank" will set probably off the timer on my machine. How long do you think a new empty tab should take to open?
    Seppo Sivula
  • This feature will be available on Vista

    This feature will be available on Vista which shares the same core of Windows 7.
    qmlscycrajg
  • Why does a *browser* ever need to lock or crash?

    I mean - seriously - in essense, all a browser does is just interpret a layout description (HTML) and draws it to the screen.

    If it needs content like graphics and that content is missing or delayed, put in a placeholder and download in a thread. If it's a plugin, always run the plugin in its own thread and if it crashes or stalls, autokill it when the tab is closed.

    Heck, put little progress bars into each placeholder so the user can SEE what's causing the delay.

    And how about a 'no extras' mode that shuts off downloading anything that needs a plug in - or a 'timeout' mode for them?

    Really, it just can't be this difficult.
    TheWerewolf
    • "Really, it just can't be this difficult"

      Isn't webkit open source, have at it.
      tech_walker
    • That's only true if you have pure HTML...

      Here's an example where it's NOT true because the page is NOT pure html:

      For a really good example of how scripting can exacerbate a bad experience go to http://slashdot.org in IE 8 (I'm told it also affects IE 7) and try scrolling the length of the page.

      So how was that? Was it good for you?

      Now turn off scripting in IE, or more easily, simply add slashdot into the Restricted sites category and go back to the page. Now scroll again.

      Was that good for you? Was it *better* for you?

      I believe you'll find that the slashdot page itself has absolutely no difference visually (at least to my untrained eye) and the links and such work, but the imporant thing is the scrolling and rendering performance is very fast. Almost pure HTML fast... :)

      Does that put to bed your thinking that it's simply laying out formatted text on the screen? I hope so...
      PollyProteus
  • RE: Windows 7 RC users get new IE 8 'tab responsiveness' feature

    Dont you think IE8 is heavier than other? It seems similar to what Google Chrome have. Both browsers consumes separate memory for each tab.

    Vishant Garg
    http://www.vishant.in
    vishantgarg@...
  • RE: Windows 7 RC users get new IE 8 'tab responsiveness' feature

    I have a fresh install of Windows 7 and was determined not to install another browser. Bad news. Explorer 8 won't let me edit Wordpress blogs. When using the editor the whole top of the page is blank and have to scroll way down, also trying to add a text widget, it adds the widget but when trying to open it, it disappears. Had to install Firefox again.
    ukstar@...
  • RE: Windows 7 RC users get new IE 8 'tab responsiveness' feature

    The main reason is people want a fast browser so its written in C++ and has 1000's of bugs.

    A java or .NET browser would NEVER crash but run 20% slower.

    Note the top 2 reaons are
    1) Addons
    2) Java script.
    bklooste
  • RE: Windows 7 RC users get new IE 8 'tab responsiveness' feature

    Funny, it seems IE8 is only 32-bit, even tho I've installed the 64-bit Win7.

    Google Chrome does not work.

    Note - with ReadyBoost, it is definitely faster than XP when booting up.
    bardiferous
    • 64bit or OS incompatibility with my stuff

      Maybe the drivers aren't out there yet - but if Win7 is to make that huge splash, they absolutely *have* to be there. Even more with 64bit! I already have clients that walked away from 64bit Vista because of incompatibility.

      I want to use my software, printer, and TV tuner. Wait, this is America - my TV tuner works!

      bardiferous
  • RE: Windows 7 RC users get new IE 8 'tab responsiveness' feature

    gnhysa,good post!
    dsfwrryd18-24353589260930765128987193640853