The software giant, Microsoft, has the next version of its popular Internet Explorer in the works. While the test version of Internet Explorer 8 is already available for developer preview, the public release of the beta is set for June end.
Just like the focus of IE 7 was on security and incorporation of a tabbed interface, version 8’s main features centre on stability and usability.
Hereunder are the salient features of the new in Internet Explorer 8.
In terms of stability, IE 8’s new automatic crash recovery feature is designed to solve one major problem that most IE users know too well. Today, when an IE window or tab freezes or crashes, other browsers instances or tabs will likely become inoperable as well.
Automatic crash recovery does a better job of isolating instances of the IE browser — or separate tabs within the same browser — so that one stalled browser or tab can be terminated without affecting any other.
If a crash does bring down the entire browser, automatic crash recovery will attempt to restore the browser to its previous state — including all open tabs — the next time you open it.
Greater stability is fine — but ultimately boring. Luckily, that’s not all IE 8 has going for it. The new browser’s usability features will generate the most buzz — and are likely to tempt many to give IE 8 a try.
The new Activities feature, for instance, attempts to save a lot of time by cutting down on the number of separate sites that you have to visit to accomplish a task. In essence, the Activities feature allows you to invoke the essential services offered on separate sites without ever leaving the page you’re currently on.
Let’s say, that you’re reading a Web page and you see an address for a restaurant you’d like to visit. Today, in order to get directions to that address, you would probably go to a mapping site and type or paste the address in and then wait for the service to provide you with a map from, say, your apartment to the restaurant. This process is time-consuming and involves at least two browser windows and tabs, plus a bit of copying and pasting.
With IE 8’s Activities feature, when you select the address, a small Activities button appears next to your mouse cursor. Clicking that Activities button brings up a context-sensitive menu of possible activities, with one of the options being the ability to map the tool using your favourite mapping site.
Selecting that mapping option actually invokes the mapping site in a smaller preview window inside the current browser tab.
Another Activity might pull from a review site of restaurants, allowing you to see what others have said about the restaurant without your having to visit another site.
The Activities feature was also created with a nod toward the growing popularity of social networking sites. Just as you can pull services from other sites, the Activities feature also allows you to push information to popular networking sites such as Facebook and Digg.
If you want to refer a friend to the page from which you got the address for the restaurant, for instance, you can select the Send to Facebook option on the Activities menu, and IE 8 will log you into Facebook, send the URL to Facebook, and present you with the Facebook page that allows you to add an entry.
A set of default Activities comes with the IE 8 browser, but you can easily customise the service providers that appear on your Activities list.
Another time-saving feature of IE 8 is called Web Slices, which are designed to allow you to subscribe to frequently-updated portions, or “slices,” of certain websites.
Instead of spending your time visiting three or four websites to get updated information from a portion of each of those sites, you would simply use Web Slices to pull that information into a single location in IE 8.
A site such as eBay, for instance, lends itself to the Web Slices feature.
Say, for instance, that you’re running or watching several auctions on eBay. Typically, you would visit eBay multiple times per day to check the status of those auctions.
With Web Slices, you can instead simply subscribe to a section of the auction page by clicking a Web Slice icon that appears when you allow your mouse cursor to hover over a portion of a site that is frequently updated.
Clicking the Web Slice icon adds a new button to a Favourites bar that appears above your browser tabs. Clicking the newly-created Web Slice button on the IE 8 Favourites bar will pull the latest data from your subscribed page and show it to you in a preview window.
You can visit the page itself merely by clicking a link within the preview window.
Developers can quickly identify and resolve issues because of the deep insight the tool provides into the Document Object Model. The Developer Toolbar also allows the layout to be changed on the fly so that each rendering scenario can be tested thoroughly
Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 will ship in standards mode by default. However, users can set three different rendering modes using the X-UA-Compatible header:
(1) Quirks mode which supports Internet Explorer 5 and legacy browsers. (2) Strict mode which supports Internet Explorer 7 and is accessed through the emulate IE 7 button. (3) Internet Explorer 8 standards mode.