Review: Internet Explorer 8 beta 1 (updated)

Microsoft’s next-generation web browser, Internet Explorer 8 beta 1, has arrived. In a surprising move, after the demo of IE8 and its new features at today’s session of the...

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Microsoft’s next-generation web browser, Internet Explorer 8 beta 1, has arrived. In a surprising move, after the demo of IE8 and its new features at today’s session of the MIX08 conference.

While it now ads better support for web standards, that means a lot of websites do NOT render correctly. IE8 beta 1 features a ‘Emulate IE7’ mode, that actually works pretty well, unfortunately, it means restarting your browser to switch modes.

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Watch out for updates to this post as I spend more time with IE8 beta 1 and analyse the changes from IE7.

Update

Web Slices

I haven’t managed to successfully use the Web Slice to see my friends Facebook status. It asks me to Login, I do so and am taken to Facebook as normal, yet the Web Slice continues to ask me to Login.

IE8 Web Slices 
IE8 WebSlices

Tabbed Favourites Panel
IE7 users seemed to be able to find the Favourites panel, however IE8 now features the Favourite icon, as well as the word “Favourites”. The tabbed panel is a nice touch, making switching between Favourites, Feeds and you History a breeze.

IE8 Favourite Feed History panel 

Closing IE8
Upon closing IE8, I noticed you now not only get prompted to inform you that your about to close with multiple tabs open, but you have the option to also just close the active tab. A nice, useful touch.

IE8 Close all tabs, current tab
IE8 is also supposed to have session restore now, something Firefox has had for quite some time. I haven’t had it crash out yet, so can’t comment on this, but if IE is going to crash out, let’s hope it not often, but if it does, it’d be good if it could be elegant about it.

Multi-monitor support
I’ve suggested this outrageous concept to Microsoft before.. people use more than 1 monitor these days. So frequently I’ll find that I have 2 sites open in different tabs that I’d really like next to each other. Without the ability to simply drag and drop tabs between browsers I’m forced to open a second browser, copy and paste one of the URL’s into the new window, then close the tab on the first browser window.

A frustrating scenario that I had really hoped was fixed in IE8. I know it’s only beta 1, so some changes are still to come, fingers crossed this is one that makes it to final build.

IE8 Tabs, still no drag between browser windows 

Activities
IE8 Activities

I think the idea of Activities or rather an upgraded right-click menu is a good one in theory. There’s so many things we’re doing online these days that’d be great to have only a right-click away. However Microsoft’s insistence that customisation of Activities are restricted to their partners significantly downgrades a potentially killer feature.

IE8 right click menu 

Overall
As a designer/developer of websites, I’m always keen to check out new browser versions to see how it impacts existing websites as well as what potential development it allows in the future.

The short of it is, today made a lot of work for me and every other web developer out there. Not all for the worse, but if you don’t have IE7 compatibility mode switched on and use the new IE8 “standards compliant” mode, it pretty much breaks every site on the net.

Also viewing the same XHTML compliant site in Firefox and IE8, does NOT achieve the same result.

I’m really hoping a lot of people provide feedback to Microsoft about beta 1, so the IE8 is much improved by the time it’s finally released.

More @ http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/ie/ie8/default.mspx

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Microsoft