At 11:00 AM on Monday August 25th, I decided to try IE 8 beta 2. I did some reading to become familiar with the included features and catch-up on the opinions of others, then I downloaded IE 8. During the download I choose not to install updates to Windows. The download took less than 15 seconds. I clicked the install icon and after a quick reboot it was done.
I opened the IE 8 Program with more than a little trepidation. A touch of self-hypnosis and I’m ready to reap the benefits of an improved browser. As expected, the tool bar layouts looked a tad different but not enough to send me screaming to the kitchen for my coffee security blanket. Did I tell you that I love IE 6? I’m sure there are some Firefox fans that will find that puzzling but we’ve been through that before. Yes, I know, I’m a tool and I drive a Dodge van, but millions of business owners, and some guy in Tuskaloosa agree with me. Today that changed.
After adjusting to the slightly new appearance, I am prompted to make a decision on whether I want to have IE8 tell me about sites that are similar to my past browsing habits. I select [No] and I am then presented with what appears to be a long Microsoft directed set-up of my browser options. I elect not to do anything so that I can explore them at my own pace.
Beginning the inspection I’m pleasantly surprised with the layout of the tool bars. I notice that there’s a grayed out “Suggested Sites” included in the links bar. The fact that they might be included in an easily controlled area appeals to me, so I consider adding the feature in the future. There is also a Microsoft Live Search bar at the very top right of my browser. Since my favorite is Google I click the little drop-down arrow and choose to add Google out of the provided alternatives. Bingo, Google is now the default search option.
Next is Tabbed browsing. It’s sitting right there in plain sight and conveniently located to the far left under my links bar. I type a url into the browser and up it comes in the tab. I click the smaller tab next to it and immediately see a new address bar, type in a new location and Bingo I now have two tabs up. Quick, easy, and intuitive, unlike my experience with other browsers this tab feature is very slick.
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The total number of improvements in IE 8 are too numerous to mention in this single article, but I'm listing a few that I think are the most important and exciting. Of course the importance will vary with the person using the browser but the excitement should be the same for everyone. It's one heck of a browser.
Internet Explorer 8 Features
1. InPrivate Browsing: Very simple, this feature prevents Internet Explorer from adding the sites you visit to your Browsing History. No one can find out where you’ve been surfing. It also enables a more precise deletion of your browsing history by allowing control of what is deleted and what is kept, very nice and a long time coming.
InPrivate Blocking: controls the content of third party sites, without preventing the display of the site you are visiting. Today, web pages are loaded with multi source content so in addition to removing your history, IE 8 can stop third party sites from seeing you.
2. Smart Screen Filter: This is a much-needed feature to fight today’s pounding barrage of Malware threats. IE 8 can now advise you of phishing attempts, warn against visiting malicious sites, and stop the downloading of infected content. Spyware removal tools are great but preventing contact in the first place is even better. The cross-site scripting feature is new and this browser is one of the first to use it. It stops attackers from secretly executing script on a users browser. When a Web page makes a cross-site scripting request, IE8 blocks the scrip, give you a notice and displays the rest of the page. The feature is turned on and off easily and is located in the main features section under Safety, top right, can’t miss it.
3. Accelerators/Activities: It doesn’t get any easier than this. Highlight any word or phrase on a Web page and you’ll see a blue icon. Click it and choose the activity you want Map, email or others. If you choose search, for example, the search will appear in a new color-coded tab just beside the original tab. You don’t need to go anywhere and you don’t need to download anything. It’s just that fast and simple because these are default features. Almost completely does away with the time-consuming copy/past routine of more manual days.
4. Web Slices: A way to subscribe to a portion of a page and get update notifications. This feature allows you to subscribe to only a portion of a web page. Just hovering your mouse over an area will reveal an icon and initiate conversation to add the item, provided the page is configured for this option. The portion or item is added to your favorites for one click updating. Alerts are for specific content instead of complete site feeding.
5. RSS Feeds: Right in the IE 8 browser now. Just click the RSS icon on the desired page and bingo the feed is added to your favorites. Quick, painless, and a default feature, this is going to be welcomed by many.
6. Compatibility View: Ever have problems with your browser displaying a page? Have you noticed this problem increasing with the use of more numbers of browsers, IE6, IE7, Firefox? It’s now possible to choose which code is used to view a page. It’s also possible to set IE 8 to use only the IE 8 view or to automatically use compatibility view. This should be a huge help.
7. Enhanced Tabbed Browsing: As described above this is an excellent feature. Enhanced is the operative word as it functions the way is should have from the start. Click a tab and enter a URL in the address bar that opens with the blinking cursor, just that easy.
8. Domain Names: The main domain names are now highlighted in the browser address bar. This allows you to see that you are where you think you are and not redirected to a malicious or unwanted site. It’s all good on this one.
9. Reopen your last browsing session: This is especially useful if you accidentally close your browser. You can also set your browser to open previously closed tabs.
Make no mistake about it, IE8 is heads and tails ahead of IE 7 and according to some is passing it's rival Firefox. While this gives IE fans cause to rejoice, it may be a short celebration. Today while I write about the wonders of IE 8, Google has announced the beta release of it's new browser "Chrome". With some interesting questions about the Chrome EULA and an unscheduled early release, this new browser hit the Web with the jolt of a rear end collision.