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Internet Explorer 8 launches today around the world. The new browser features increased speed and security, as well as new browsing modes and other new features.  (Source: Microsoft)
Microsoft's entry in the next generation browser war is ready at last

The browser industry's next generation war has been waging for a couple years now.  Apple released Safari 3 in 2007.  Mozilla released Firefox 3 on June 17, 2008.  Opera released its 9.6 browser on October 8, 2008 and Google launched its Chrome browser on December 11, 2008.  Noticeably absent from these competitors was market leader Microsoft.  It had not released a browser since the introduction of Internet Explorer 7 in 2006 -- a browser whose major feature was the introduction of tabs (along with security improvements).

Last year, Microsoft began to perk attention in the computer community releasing a beta of Internet Explorer 8, which featured innovative browsing modes like InPrivate, which were quickly copied by its competitors.  The beta was followed by the release candidate, which hit the internet in January.  And today those efforts it teased at last year will finally come to fruition when it releases the finalized version of its Internet Explorer 8 around the world at noon. 

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft says that security is a major focus of the new browser.  Rather than forcing users to rely on antivirus, antimalware, and firewall programs, Microsoft, like its competitors, has been working to build a lot of protection into the browser itself.  States Mr. Ballmer, "Customers have made clear what they want in a Web browser -- safety, speed and greater ease of use.  With Internet Explorer 8, we are delivering a browser that gets people to the information they need, fast, and provides protection that no other browser can match."

Microsoft claims that its browser blocks two to four times the malware of rival next generation browsers.  While such claims are certainly suspect, especially given the added security layer that some browsers like Mozilla get from non-stock add-ons, Internet Explorer 8 is definitely a big step up from the security of Internet Explorer 7. 

Speed, as Mr. Ballmer mentioned, is another key area where IE 8 shines.  Microsoft claims it holds the speed record browsing 15 of the 20 top worldwide sites -- again a rather suspicious claim.  Still, those who have used IE 8 can likely relate that the browser does load JavaScript and pages with heavy CSS content or other advanced formats a lot faster than IE 7 did.  Microsoft brags, "Internet Explorer 8 is one of the fastest browsers on the market today, beating other top browsers in page load time on almost 50 percent of the 25 top comScore Inc. Web sites."

Accelerators and web slices are two key features of the new browser.  Both of these features provide faster access to popular or “favorites” content.  Another big feature is Microsoft's improved Live Search, which includes Visual Search Suggestions -- this rich search provides visuals of the pages being searched and other information.  While some will find it too much information, others will enjoy it, and the feature just may win a bit of search engine market share for Microsoft.

Internet Explorer 8 is available in 25 languages -- Arabic, Chinese (Traditional, Simplified and Hong Kong), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal), Polish, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.

The final version will be available for download at noon, here.

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RE: Acid3 score?
By tfk11 on 3/20/2009 2:22:04 AM , Rating: 2
As a web developer I can attest to the importance of adhering to the standards. Ie is still lagging other popular browsers by fair margin in its level of standards support yet it is able to render many web pages properly while other browsers have problems despite stronger standards support for the sole reason that these pages were created specifically for ie due to its large market share.

It's agreed that avoiding a browser with poor standards support while still rendering virtually every page correctly has no immediate benefit. However, every web developer that has created a standards based layout that renders perfectly in all the popular browsers except ie will attest to the fact that avoiding browsers with weak standards support is very good for the internet as a whole over the long term.

Please don’t disregard the importance of the acid test due to the fact that no real web pages employ as many standards as the test page. We’d like to be able to use all the features provided by the standards without resorting to so many hacks one day but until all popular browsers have better standards support some features will remain underutilized. So yes, the acid test really is a measure of a good browser.

RE: Acid3 score?
By Master Kenobi on 3/20/2009 7:59:44 AM , Rating: 1
My biggest problem with this argument is the academic nature of it. IE had at one point > 80% market share. They were the standard, yet academics decided to go off on their own and "create a standard". Heck the group that puts out these "standards" was founded after the browser war where IE destroyed Netscape. How is it that a group can come in after the fact and push for "standards" when IE clearly established standards several years prior. If a company already had working standards in place (IE didn't seem to have problems serving up the web) then why would these guys take the Open Source approach and decide to go off on their own and "make their own standard". I say its the Open Source approach because every time someone in the OS community doesn't get their way a new flavor of the parent system is spun off that does operate "their way". Look no further than Mandrake/Mandriva to attest to this behavior.

I really think the whole web standards thing is still just another "We don't like Microsoft and their IE Browser so were going to make standards for the OS community then whine when we have to still re-code for IE".

/rant off

RE: Acid3 score?
By tfk11 on 3/20/2009 12:13:58 PM , Rating: 2
It would be silly to argue that IE doesn't get the job done because it clearly does, yet the way in which it does so has traditionally not only failed to consider users not running Microsoft software but often excludes these users by design. Had the "standards" set forth by Microsoft been more open and interoperable it may have been possible for other browsers to follow Microsoft's lead rather than developing their own set of open standards. In my opinion the whole "We don't like Microsoft and their IE browser" attitude is well deserved.

The argument would indeed be purely academic were it not for the closed and quirky nature of the "standards" set forth by Microsoft which I believe was and continues to be the driving force behind the push for establishing open standards.

RE: Acid3 score?
By Moishe on 3/23/2009 9:53:39 AM , Rating: 2
You're right that this "method" is the pattern of Open Source. There are good things about being unsatisfied with proprietary and limited thinking, but there are bad things about forking and forking.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard
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