Microsoft’s new browser, Internet Explorer 8, or IE8, is being released to web developers for testing purposes, but basically anyone can get it. The first public beta aims to introduce consumers to 5 new features available on the new browser from Microsoft. Activities, WebSlices, Favourites Bar, Improved Phishing Filter, and Automatic Crash Recovery are the five main improvements on the new browser. It maintains though the same core from Internet Explorer 7. Microsoft was just planning on building on top of a fairly successful browser, so don’t expect any major overhauls. For this article I will go over the five major adjustments on the new browser.
Probably one of the biggest features on IE8, Activities aims to provide easy access to performing tasks such as mapping addresses, putting things on blog, or doing any sort of activity you can think of. When first setting it up, they had a list of default providers for certain activities. For example, if you right clicked an address and chose to map it, it would directly go to Live Maps. If you don’t like Live Maps you can always change the provider. At first there were only Microsoft programs, but now they have expanded slightly with Google, Facebook, Stumbleupon, MSNBC, and others. My only beef is that you can’t add your own providor with just the URL, such as blogging with WordPress.
Improved Phishing Filter
As the sub-title states, Microsoft has finally got some sort of decent phishing filter to combat today’s evil enemies on the web. It not only blocks sites known to be phishing ones, but it also blocks sites known to be malicious with harmful downloads. It takes McAfee SiteAdvisor a step further from just listing the danger level.
Automatic Crash Recovery
While a key feature on Firefox, Explorer has yet to include this feature until this release. I myself have many times found myself in a position in Firefox when I’ve had multiple tabs open and then all of a sudden the browser crashes. I find it not a big deal though because I can just restart as my tabs are saved. On Internet Explorer it takes that a step forward by automatically restarting your browser as if nothing happened. One benefit of Firefox not restarting by itself, is it gives me a wake up call to maybe consider getting off the computer.
The Favourites Bar in IE8 replaces the Links Bar. It’s basically what the name says, all your favourites that you want monitored go here. On top of that though, you can also place feeds, WebSlices and documents all on there for quick, one-click access. When the WebSlices or feeds are updated, it will appear in a bold formatting to let you know of the update content. Like the old Links Bar, you can drag links from the web page and insert it directly onto the bar. Now you can do that, plus insert it from the address bar.
WebSlices is the second most hyped about feature on IE8 after Activities. The bad part about it is, is that it only works with certain websites such as Facebook or eBay. It’s much like an RSS feed but works with different things. RSS feeds look at posts whereas WebSlices focuses on more interactive things such as auctions and weather. It works with the Favourites Bar as when you see the content you want to be constantly updated on you click the icon and it will appear there. Whenever it’s updated, the icon will appear bold. The cool thing is, when you click it, it doesn’t open a new page just yet, it just gives you a preview, giving you the option to either open the full page or delete the WebSlice, all from the comfort of your current page.
Internet Explorer 8 is definitly an improvement over the previous version even though it’s in beta 1. There are still some quirks to work out like the speed of it and maybe introduce some new websites to WebSlices because it’s something they can take advantage of. I’ll still stick to Firefox 3.0 because of it’s simplicity yet raw power with all the add-ons. But it’s now nice to know if I want a change of pace, I can open up IE8. To download the beta 1 go to Internet Explorer 8 Home Page (opens in a new window).