A few days ago I saw that Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 was being made publicly available so I thoguht I would give it a stab and see if Microsoft had done any good with this, because I personally feel that IE7 wasn’t released all that long ago and there wasn’t really much need for a new browser jsut yet.
After getting it installed which was a bit of a polava due to needing to install a patch for Windows XP which didn’t want to install straight up, I couldn’t see too much difference, except for the fact that half of the internet doesn’t work properly.
The user interface has the same feel as the IE7 interface with a few subtle additions. There is a new button labelled Emulate IE7 which causes a restart of IE8. Once this happens all page are rendered as they would be by IE7 which is good is you find a site which doesn’t display properly. There is also a few button called Developer Tools. Clicking this opens a new window which allows you to trawl through the HTML, CSS and Scripting code that is being used on the site you are using – They should label this button the piracy button for people who will undoubtably use this to steal code they like.
Microsoft have changed the way Auto Complete displays when using the address bar and the search box which means that the auto-completed results look a little more pretty, but nothing has actually changed in the way they work.
The main change that most people will notice from the offset is the way in which it displays the URL you are viewing. The root domain name of the site you are viewing is displayed in black whilst the remainder of the address is displayed in grey. The purpose of this is to allow people to see what the root domain name of the site that is being viewed is to help prevent phishing hich is growing in its use by nasty people amoung us.
Some useful changes have been made to the Phishing Filter also which means that sites are better detected as being phished. When I first starting using IE7 is branded the homepage of my NetGear router as a faked website and that I should stop viewing it – I would like to see someone phish a site on the internet which is using a non routable IP address – Hopefully this sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore.
I was very suprised to see Microsoft didn’t integrate Silverlight into IE8, but maybe that feature will be added after Beta 1, although there is nothing to stop you downloading Silverlight yourself, or get nagged every single time a page on the Microsoft site loads to install it*
One of the new features that I will talk about very briefly are Web Slices. Microsoft, not liking to comply with standards decided that RSS Feeds, although good enough for the rest of the world are not good enough for IE, so they needed to invent a new technology which will be unused by everybody. Web Slices are basically RSS Feeds that can do more, but aren’t actually that useful.
On the whole, I can’t really see the point in IE8 as there isn’t that much that has changed, and certainly not enough to call it a major release. I would have personally called in IE7.1 as they did with IE5 and 5.5. As a user of Windows Mobile, I would have much preferred to see the development time that went into IE8 spent on improving and feature packing the Pocket IE browser in the mobile OS, because it certainly lacks features I would expect to see in the browser.
On the other hand, I personally think Microsoft have over areas to concentrate on such as Windows Media Player for example. iTunes whilst I dislike the product due to its memory hogging abilities has features that WMP has lacked for some time, such as better features with regard to portable media device syncronization and features that are totally missing like podcasts. I currently use addons for WMP which allow me to sync my iPod and to sync my IE RSS feeds objects as podcasts to the iPod which is the best of both worlds for me, but wouldn’t it be nice to have all this integrated without the need for 3rd party products?
*PS: Don’t mis-read this bit – Makes me sound like I’m not a Microsoft fanboy although really I am 🙂