Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 : Early Bird Review

by Karthik on March 6, 2008 · 7 comments

ie8

I’m pretty sure you have all heard about Internet Explorer 8 either here or elsewhere. The 1st Beta of IE8 was released to public today and I quickly downloaded and I’ve been playing with it the whole day long. Being a long time Firefox browser, it was like ages since I used Internet Explorer. I’ve been a Firefox fan since the 1.2 days. So coming back to IE8 after such a long time was an experience in itself for me. Anyway’s I’d better cut the crap and focus on the issue.

I installed it on Vista and the Installation went on without any problems. But one thing I don’t understand is the amount of time it took to Install IE8 on my PC. It hardly takes a couple of minutes for Firefox or Opera to install but it took over 15 minutes for IE8 to install complete with a system restart. Surely Microsoft you don’t need to be treating your users like this right?

Installation woes apart, the first time I started IE8 I was greeted with a pleasing welcome page, but it was hardly effective in convincing me to use IE8. Microsoft needs to work on improving its welcome page though (you can access it here). The page is pretty thin in content and there is hardly any compelling reason to make me feel like switching. But let me also add here, that IE8 while being in beta is the fastest Internet Explorer I’ve used all my life.

Well the two features that really caught my eye other than being standards compliant were :

  • Activities

Activities a feature that allows users to select some text and pass it to a web service to define it (Dictionary.com, Answers.com and similar), translate it, get a map, blog it or submit it to a social bookmarking site like Reddit or digg.

For example have a look at the screenshot below

ie8_activities

  • WebSlices

Developers can mark parts of webpages as “WebSlices” and enable users to monitor information they rely on as they move about the web. With a click in the Favorites bar, users see rich “WebSlice” visuals and developers establish a valuable, persistent end-user connection.

ie8_webslice

The above mentioned features really caught me unawares, as I wasn’t expecting such kind of innovation coming out of Microsoft labs after so many years. Webslices has a lot of potential in my opinion and I would love to see it in Firefox too either in the core or as an addon.

The crash recovery features are the best I’ve seen on any browser so far. IE8 is able to close just the tab that hangs up and recover it thanks to its architecture that runs each tab in a separate thread. But there is a catch here, IE8 cannot save the data that you enter in the form fields :( . But I guess that feature will be added in the future when the product matures.

I am still poking around the browser to see if I can find anything interesting. Microsoft has finally added Developer Tools to IE8. This should be a helpful for developers with DOM, CSS and script inspectors and debuggers similar to one that we already have in Firefox 2.

Yes I heard you guys. Finally IE8 does pass the Acid2 test :) which is a good news for Web Designers everywhere. But now that IE8 has finally cleared the Acid2 hurdle the Acid3 Test awaits it. I tested IE8 on the Acid3 test page, and it fared very very poorly in comparison with the latest builds of Firefox 3 and Safari. Here are the results of my test in default settings :

  • Firefox 3 Beta : 67/100
  • Safari : 80/100
  • IE 8 : 17/100 (Unbelievable right?)

So clearly the IE team has a lot of work to do, before releasing the final version of IE8. Hopefully IE8 will mark the beginning of a new era in the history of Internet.

If you are looking to give IE8 a try then follow the download links below and give it a try.

What do you guys think about IE8? Do you think it will manage to capture the lost marketshare from Firefox?

See more from: Web

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Ryan March 6, 2008 at 11:10 pm

What?! Safari came out with a 80? Gah! I installed IE last night before your Mac tutorial and I agree with the installation. Very slow, and the extra configuration was a nightmere. Overall, there is some innovation but it works terribly with PHP, just go try out a PHPBB3 forum and experience the lag in typing.

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Luke L March 6, 2008 at 11:56 pm

I think Microsoft still have a long way to go with IE, it lacks the raw customisability of Opera and Firefox for a start. And Mike, PHP is server side, it has no impact on the client side, it’s most likely JavaScript that’s lagging the page down.

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Karthik Kastury March 7, 2008 at 6:08 am

@Mike, Yeah the latest builds of Safari come out on top. IE8 still has a long way to go before it can be successful but atleast its a step in the right direction..

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Max R March 7, 2008 at 2:00 pm

“[the webslices] features really caught me unawares, as I wasn���t expecting such kind of innovation coming out of Microsoft labs after so many years.”

You *are* aware of the fact that web clippings have been in Safari/Leopard for almost a year, right? =]

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vinitneo March 8, 2008 at 8:00 am

Installation take an awful amount of time, browser crashes frequently, toolbars not compatible. New features are good.

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Salman Khalid March 27, 2008 at 9:13 pm

Been using Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 for a while now… Though has its downers, it is by far the best IE release since long.

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