Internet Explorer 8 is in its final stages of testing and
rumor has it that Microsoft plans to release it this summer or sooner. I’ve had
a chance to download the beta version, and you can too by clicking here.
For the casual user, IE8 has some nifty new features to make
your browsing experience a little easier.
The “Accelerator” tool allows you to
highlight text on any page and email the content to others, search Google or
Wikipedia with that content, and even map driving directions of an address
selection without leaving the page you are on. With Web Slices, you don't have to check back with sites like Ebay or ESPN to get updates: they appear on your toolbar. It goes a step further
than an RSS feed, giving you a snapshot of the updated site. IE8 also includes
an “InPrivate” mode to browse without saving any information in your history, a
“search suggestions” feature that shows you predictive text and pulls information from Wikipedia or Google, and additional security features.
I can definitely see how IE8’s new features will delight the
devoted Explorer user. It looks like Microsoft has made significant strides to
catch up to the competition as far as features and speed. However, I’m not sure
a lot of Firefox fans will make the switch based on these features alone. In my opinion, the speed and efficiency of
Firefox still makes it the most user-friendly browser available. IE8 is getting
closer but isn’t quite there yet.
As for us developers...
Most web developers hope that with the dawning of IE8, we
can begin to sunset the support of IE6. Unfortunately, according to www.thecounter.com, in January 2009 over
34% of the population was still using IE6, while 42% were using IE7. Here’s to
hoping that the added features in IE8 will be compelling enough that IE6 users will
want to upgrade (didn’t we say that when IE7 came out?). Until then, we will
continue the full-scale support of 3 Explorer versions, Firefox and Google