After many months of work and a lengthy beta testing process Microsoft released the latest version of its Internet Explorer browser today. Internet Explorer 8 is available for Windows XP and Vista at the Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 web site.
While facing a growing number of robust competitors, Internet Explorer continues to own the lion’s share of the browser marketplace with estimates ranging from 70% – 75% or more. The release of IE8 will not hurt that ranking as the new browser provides significant enhancements in a number of areas.The most immediately noticeable change is with improved performance. Navigation and page loading times with IE8 are a definite improvement over version 7 and are reason enough to recommend downloading and installing this upgrade.
Improvements with Internet Explorer 8
Another key area of improvement with the new version of Internet Explorer is security. According to Microsoft, “Internet Explorer 8 offers the best security protections among leading browsers: a study released by NSS Labs indicates that Internet Explorer 8 blocks two to four times as many malicious sites as other browsers on the market today.” Given the proliferation of online threats this is a significant upgrade.
A number of usability improvements have been made. Microsoft has added a Favorites Bar (actually overhauled the old Links bar) while enhancing how the Bar is used. Other enhancements include: Web Slices – actual portions or “slices” of specific web pages, an enhanced Address bar renamed the “Smart Address bar”, and Accelerators, which use web services to perform specific tasks on a page, thereby simplifying navigation and usability.
Microsoft has also added several new tab-related improvements including a useful New Tab page that appears when you open a new browser tab and tab grouping which can be used to color code tabs from a specific group. IE 8 also contains improvements in the options available when you right-click a tab. Another key improvement is with overall stability. IE 8 expands on IE 7’s crash recovery functionality and will reload tabs, pages and data in the event of the browser crashing and needing to restart.
There are many other enhancements with this major upgrade and additional detailed information can be found at the Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 web site.
Internet Explorer 8 – “Faster, Easier, Safer”
Microsoft is touting IE 8 as “faster, easier, safer” and it seems to score big in all three areas. The net-net: if you use Internet Explorer to access the Internet you should get this new version, if you use another browser Internet Explorer 8 is worth checking out, you may be pleasantly surprised. File size of the download is approximately 16 MB.
In an interesting departure, Microsoft does not include the Macintosh as a supported platform for Internet Explorer 8. The new browser is only supported on Windows XP and Vista (and on Windows 7 when it is released).