Jul 29 2008
If you did not know Microsoft is currently working on Internet Explorer 8 (IE8), you may ask why a new web browser? If you are not a flower of the “browser wars” you may not realize that over the years all browser have made compromises in how they parse HTML and associated style sheets. This was done for appropriate reasons by all for the time they were created, this helped the browsers render existing content on the web but over the years as web developers have adopted new standers browsers needed to adapt and while Internet Explorer 7 did a lot it was not completely standards compliant so the goal for IE8 is to make the “Standards mode” much better than IE7 but also keep the IE7 standards available in IE8 so we are left with three layout modes – Quirks, IE7 Standards, and IE8 Standards. You can tell IE8 to use the IE7 Standards mode by adding a meta tag ‘<META http-equiv=”X-UA-Compatible” content=”IE=7″>’ but you should start to update your sites content to comply with the CSS 2.1 standard to the IE8 Standards will render your site well.
For more information about layout modes, standards in IE8 go to the blog posts from the IE8 team The Default Layout Mode, Microsoft’s Interoperability Principles and IE8 and HTML and DOM Standards Compliance in IE8 Beta 1. If you are interested in one of the milestones the team reached before the release of beta 1 check out the blog post Internet Explorer 8 and Acid2: A Milestone.
The largest issue for customers is around security, I don’t know about you but as the family tech support I want my mother-in-laws web experience to be as secure as possible so I keep turning off her Linksys router :). That has only frustrated her so I look forward to all the security enhancements IE8 will bring to her (no I have not installed beta 1 for her but I will most likely install beta 2) my personal favorite observable feature is Domain Highlighting in the address bar. Now when you get send that email asking you to change your online banks account password you will see the domain name of the site you are accessing in black text while the rest of the site address will appear in gray like:
The hope would be that my mother-in-law will see on the real site the domain name looks like it should where the other page dose not look like it is part of the wellsfargo domain. It gets better when you go to a site that has been reported to Microsoft as a phishing website you will the address bar look like this:
for more on the Microsoft Safety Filter go to the faq on it.
If domains use Extended Validation SSL certificates IE8 will show a green background and the company name the SSL cert. is registered to.
There are a lot of other security features in IE8, the team has a (so far) 5 part series about all security in IE8:
IE8 Security Part I: DEP/NX Memory Protection
IE8 Security Part II: ActiveX Improvements
IE8 Security Part III: SmartScreen® Filter
IE8 Security Part IV: The XSS Filter
IE8 Security Part V: Comprehensive Protection
While the security features are great there is still only so much any single software application can do to stop people from doing things that can hurt there system so still remember surf intelligently!
New Ways to experience the web
Part IE8 is extending the web user experience to do this IE8 includes two new ways to interact with the web beyond the page with Activities and WebSlices
I have written about Activities in the post IE8 Activity: “Define with Wikipedia” but basics are (from IE8 Features page) “Activities are contextual services that provide quick access to external services from any webpage” I think this a great way to let users with information on any web page regardless how site designers expect.
WebSlices are equally interesting for designers to anticipate what information users will want to be aware of. again from the IE8 Features page:
“Web sites can expose portions of their page as a WebSlice, which users can subscribe to. And users can bring that content with them on their links bar wherever they are on the web. Users receive update notifications when the content changes.”
I will do a future post about how to implement WebSlices.
Status and Future
The current release of IE8 is Beta 1 witch is targeted for web developers and designers to so they can prepare for the release of IE8. I have been running the current beta for months now and I have had little problems, I run it in IE7 Emulation mode most of the time.
Bill Gates at TechEd this last June announced that Beta 2 will be (read should be) released in August of this year. I have not been keeping up with the internal builds so I don’t know how on track the team is with that date.
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