Microsoft is proclaiming Internet Explorer 8 (IE 8) finished and will be releasing the final bits for download on March 19.
Microsoft plans to make the bits available as of 9 a.m. PT on Thursday. Interested parties will be able to grab them from the Internet Explorer 8 Web site, officials said.
Update: The final IE 8 bits are downloadable now from here for Windows XP and Vista. The final version isn't meant for installation on Windows 7.
Microsoft officials will launch officially IE 8 during the Mix '09 morning keynote on March 19.
There are very few changes between the Release Candidate (RC) IE 8 code that Microsoft delivered in January and the final bits, officials said.
Starting with the RC, Microsoft began offering users a downloadable Compatibility List of sites which automatically default to the older, non-standards-compliant version of Internet Explorer 7 in order to lessen compatibility problems with IE 8. Since January, Microsoft has tweaked that list a bit, removing sites which have since updated so as to work properly with the more standards-centric IE 8, and adding new ones that aren't standards-mode compliant. Otherwise, the tweaks to the product have been few.
Microsoft is planning to push IE 8 to users via its automatic updating mechanisms, but has yet to set a date as to when it will do so. In the interim, downloading the IE 8 code from Microsoft's Web site will be the way interested users can obtain the latest release of the Microsoft browser.
Microsoft also plans to bundle IE 8 with Windows 7 when that operating system is launched, most likely later this year. Recently, officials said they plan to offer users the option of "removing" IE 8 from Windows 7 in order to try to head off antitrust punishments likely to be doled out by the European Commission overseeing the Opera browser-bundling complaint against Microsoft.