IE8 waiting in the wings

The Internet Explorer 8.0 Beta is available for download.

Is it worth your time?

The rule of thumb is strict: don’t install Beta software unless you really want to try out the latest and the greatest, and are willing to take a risk. Beta software simply means that it’s almost ready to be shipped, but it still has some bugs to work out. By offering a new program as a Beta, the creators can use the public to help wring out the last few issues. But be warned: Beta software can have unfortunate consequences for those who take the chance. If you are at all squeamish about the risk to your system, stop now and let TechnologyTips do the testing for you.

At first glance, it seems like a large case of Déjà vu all over again. It looks like IE7 with just a few new icons tacked on.

Upon further examination, Microsoft has also added a Favorites bar a-la Safari and Firefox. That’s a popular feature in those browsers, and will make getting to those core sites you visit daily even easier.

WebSlices is also new to IE8. It is a pretty cool feature. WebSlices offers mini-RSS-style feeds from just a small chunk of a webpage. For example, you can select the status update area on your Facebook or sections of your Ebay home page separately from the rest of the page as a WebSlice. Now. Your RSS reader will be automatically checking and updating just that portion of the page. You can pull up just those sections later to see what’s new. Those who design webpages can also create WebSlices in their pages for IE8 to make getting updates easier.


IE8 also adds ‘Activities’ right-click integration that gives you quick access to some of its mapping, blogging, and e-mail services to make it easy to share sites between friends. Facebook and dictionary services are also a right-click away, tying in many popular services into a single browsing experience.

You can download more Activities from the IE website to reflect those sites and services you use.

Another touch is the highlighting and graying out of the address bar to make the name of the webpage pop out. For example, type in and the part of the page is highlighted. This allows you to quickly make sure you are on the right website. This is part of IE8’s strategy to fighting Phishing scams. Alongside this is more antiPhishing technology.

IE8 comes with an improved Phishing filter, with an added Safety Filter that looks deeper into the address to see any other clues of naughty behavior by a scammer.

Most of the other improvements are the usual “Better/Faster/More Stable” variety, which is a good thing, but a bit boring and dry. What’s important is that IE8 looks to have forward-looking features that will make browsing more intuitive and safer.

Combining websites like Facebook and Ebay into the browser itself will make using the Internet less like a random collection of pages, and more like a single application for what you do out there.

Sure, some of the features are ‘me-too’ items borrowed from competing browsers, but in the end, it’s the user who benefits. We’ll let you know when IE8 is ready for the masses.