IE8 could give Opera and Firefox a run for their feature money

Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) is the king of the hill when it comes to web browsers. That is despite the fact that many computer users feel IE is a much less usable browser than its main competitors like Opera and Firefox.

For instance, Microsoft was way behind its competitors adding features as basic as tabbed browsing, which only showed up in IE7. It appears that Microsoft is intent on making a browser that competes with the newer browsers on a much more complete basis feature wise with Internet Explorer 8.

IE8 will offer a wealth of new features starting with Activities. Activities allow you to open links to external web services within the context of a page you are looking at. If you are looking at the webpage for a store or restaurant, you could get driving directions with Live Maps or send the information to another web application.

Webslices is another new feature that allows users to subscribe and bring content on the links bar as they surf the web. IE8 also comes a long way on standards compliance and offers three different rendering modes -- Quirks mode, Strict mode, and IE8 standards mode. Quirks mode supports IE5 and legacy browsers, strict mode supports IE7 and is accessed through an emulate IE7 button.

IE8 is compliant with cascading style sheets (CSS) 2.1 and offers HTML improvements intended to fix cross browser inconsistencies. IE8's get/set/remove attributes are now compatible with other browsers and default attributes for HTML are supported. IE8 also includes integrated developer tools. This will allow web developers to debug HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in a visual development environment included with the web browser.

CNET News reports that IE8 Beta 1 has some significant new security features. One of the features is a cross-site scripting filter. Microsoft says this is one of the first scripting filters on a mainstream browser. This feature is meant to protect a user from a malicious webpage that tries to execute a script on a user's browser without them knowing. When a page requests a cross-site script to be executed, IE8 changes the content on the web page being viewed with a notice that the script wants to run. When IE8 recognizes a malicious script, it keeps the script from executing.

Another significant new feature is called InPrivate. The feature allows users to browse the internet without having IE8 cache the content being viewed. When the function is activated, you can keep the rest of your browsing history intact. IE8 also adds ActiveX components security, which eliminates drive-by downloads. IE8 has Microsoft malware protection built-in -- a feature that Opera and other competitors feature.

One of the best new features of IE7 was the addition of tabbed browsing. IE8 takes tabbed browsing to the next level for Microsoft. IE8 will also users to reopen the last few tabs that were closed. This is a great feature if you have ever accidentally closed a tab while working. Tabs opened from the same page are also color coded to make keeping groups of tabs easier. IE8 also offers the ability for the browser to suggest new websites similar to the websites you have previously viewed. The option is turned off by default.

IE8 competitor Firefox set a record for the most downloads in 24 hours when its latest version launched recently.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan
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