Internet Explorer 8: Review

IE8 offers a variety of new features, as well as some improvements on existing browsing tools. Just watch out for those glitches in toolbar add-ons.


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Also see: Review: Internet Explorer 8: Simplified Browsing (April 2009).

It's here – it’s finally here. I’m talking about the public beta for Internet Explorer 8. Here’s the download page for Internet Explorer 8.

Now it may seem premature to be so excited, especially about a BETA 1 release. We’ll let me digress and explain why I’ve felt such keen anticipation.

In November 2007, I was hired to write some materials on Microsoft’s new WindowsHPC offering. This led to work on the new PerformancePoint Server product and even some research papers comparing Windows Server 2008 to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.

Well, being this heavily involved, I thought I’d ask my client for a favor. Yep – you guessed it: I wanted a crack at the new IE8 software while it was in private beta. I thought that since I was working with three different teams at Redmond I was sure to get a preview.

I was wrong. And for me it has been a long anticipated wait. Yes, I was downloading the beta the moment the links were live.

At first look, Internet Explorer 8 doesn’t seem much different from version 7. In fact, most of the base features are the same. Therefore, XP users who are still reeling over the complete Vista interface overhaul can relax – it still looks like Internet Explorer. However, they’ve packed in some cool new features. Let’s look at what they are and discuss how this newest browser will not only be more fun to use, but actually help you be more productive.

What’s New in the World of Web Browsing?

IE 8 has five new or improved features for the end user. (A little later I’ll cover some of the “under the hood” adjustments in this new release.) The features we’re talking about are:

• Activities

internet explorer 8

Activities in Internet Explorer 8

• WebSlices

• Favorites Bar

• Automatic Crash Recovery

• Improved Phishing Filter

So let’s take a closer look at each. We begin with Activities:

Activities are services that, to put it simply, normally call for a copy and paste action in IE7 and earlier, in order to access additional information.

For example, if you needed to get the address and map a route to a sports arena, you’d go to their website, copy the address, then paste it into a map website such as Live Maps. With Activities, you simply highlight your selection and the activities button appears. This button gives you the option to map an address (a preview of activities is available without launching a whole new tab or page). Post to your favorite blog site, send an email message, search, translate, define, and even share the content easily.

WebSlices are an exciting new technology in Internet Explorer 8. WebSlices work like RSS feeds; you simply go to sites that are enabled for WebSlices, like eBay or Facebook. Simply click on the WebSlice button and add it to your favorites bar.

Then from any webpage, your updated content will appear with bold type. Clicking on the item will open a view to give you an update. From here, you can either open the full page or delete the WebSlice (without ever leaving your current page).

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