Internet Explorer 8, has arrived. In a surprising move, after the demo of IE8 and its new features at today's session of the MIX08 conference, the startling announcement was made: "It's available for download now". The new browser showcases many new features and improvements, like Facebook and eBay integration, standards compliance, and the ability to work with AJAX web pages. What's most notable about IE8, though, is more than a sum of its parts. If anything, this launch shows that Microsoft is not taking Firefox's creep into browser market share lightly.Microsoft's next-generation web browser,
IE8 New Features Shown At MIX08
I'm sure there are more features to be discovered, but the ones that were highlighted just now in the demo at MIX08 included the following:
Standards Compliance: There were hints that IE8 would be a remarkable offering on the IE Blog as they released tidbits about the browser's capabilities. For example, the announcement of IE8's passing of the Acid2 test (a test for standards compliance) marked a milestone in IE8's development. The standards mode was originally going to be turned off by default letting web developers code for it by including a "meta" tag to make use of IE8's new standards compliant mode. Later, Microsoft came to their senses and made the default the standards-compliant mode. Meanwhile, Firefox also claims to have passed the Acid 2 test, but an open bug on bugzilla.mozilla.org seems to say otherwise. (our coverage). One commenter on the thread notes, "So, we essentially do pass the test. However, in some situations, it might still fail, that's why this bug is open."
Facebook Integration: Yes, seriously! With a Flock-like feature as an unexpected surprise, Microsoft capitalized on their partnership with the popular social networking site, Facebook, to allow IE8 users the ability to get status updates from Facebook right from their browser toolbar.
eBay Integration: Like Facebook, this feature also uses IE8's new technology, called "WebSlices", which introduces a new way to get updates from other sites via the browser itself, without having to visit the web site. With WebSlices, IE8 beta users can subscribe to portions of a page that
update dynamically, in order to receive updates from that page as content
changes. EBay will offer webslices, too, letting you track your auctions from the browser toolbar. Basically, WebSlices look like Favorites on your Links toolbar but they have a little arrow next to them - clicking on this arrow will show you a small window of live web content.
Live Maps Integration: Another WebSlice was integration with Live Maps. It appeared that you could even highlight text on a page, like an address, and then right-click and choose Live Maps from the context menu to get a WebSlice preview of that location on a map in a small pop-up window. How convenient!
Integration with Me.dium: Me.dium integration will be supported in IE8 via WebSlices. Me.dium will now help web surfers discover and view WebSlices directly from the sidebar. The Me.dium sidebar will alert users to the presence of WebSlices on any page and even allows users to read each WebSlice, without leaving the Sidebar. In addition, Me.dium will make real-time recommendations for other WebSlices on other relevant web pages and provides direct links to them based on the real time activity of other Me.dium users.
Me.dium Activities in Action
Working with AJAX Pages: IE8 will offer better functionality when it comes to AJAX web pages. The example showed a page where you could zoom in using AJAX technology. Previously, hit the IE "Back" button would take you back to the last page you were on. Now, "Back" will zoom you out.
We can now find out what other features IE8 has to offer, since the beta is now publicly available for download. To get IE8, you can download it from here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/ie/ie8/readiness/Install.htm.