It's official: No IE 8 until 2009

After one more public test build early next year, Microsoft plans to release the final version of Internet Explorer 8 in calendar 2009. Microsoft officials shared the updated timetable via a November 19 post on the IE Blog.

After one more public test build early next year, Microsoft plans to release the final version of Internet Explorer 8 in calendar 2009.

Microsoft officials shared the updated timetable via a November 19 post on the IE Blog.

Until yesterday, Microsoft's only official pronouncement of when the final IE 8 release was due was before the end of "this year." I had heard from insiders that Microsoft was aiming to release the final IE 8 build in November, 2008 -- a plan which seemed quite ambitious given how often I "report a Webpage problem" to Microsoft when I'm surfing the Web using IE 8 Beta 2.

IE General Manager Dean Hachamovitch provided information on  the updated IE 8  timetable on Wednesday. From his post:

"We will release one more public update of IE8 in the first quarter of 2009, and then follow that up with the final release.

"Our next public release of IE (typically called a 'release candidate') indicates the end of the beta period. We want the technical community of people and organizations interested in web browsers to take this update as a strong signal that IE8 is effectively complete and done. They should expect the final product to behave as this update does. We want them to test their sites and services with IE8, make any changes they feel are necessary for the best possible customer experience using IE8, and report any critical issues (e.g., issues impacting robustness, security, backwards compatibility, or completeness with respect to planned standards work). Our plan is to deliver the final product after listening for feedback about critical issues."

If Windows 7, which includes IE 8 as part of the operating system,  is released to manufacturing around mid-year 2009, perhaps the final, standalone IE 8 will debut around the same time.

Anyone else testing IE 8 Beta 2? What's your take on how close to done Microsoft's next browser release really is?