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Sunday, April 5, 2009

New features in Internet Explorer 8

Windows Internet Explorer 8 (abbreviated IE8) is the latest web browser developed by Microsoft. The Internet Explorer 8 is out, and clearly there have been some big advances since IE 7.

You can ask yourself : Why do I want to use Internet explorer 8?
The answer may be : because of new features and improvements.

So let's see new features:

  • Integrated developer tools

  • Do you want to debug jscript, inspect and edit HTML code directly from web browser? Now developers can debug a site's HTML, CSS, and Microsoft® JScript from within Internet Explorer 8 (with developer tools), rather than switch between Internet Explorer and a separate development environment. Developer tool exists in early versions of IE as a add-in, now it is integrated in IE 8. If you want to know more about developer tools visit article How to improve efficiency in web design with IE 8.

  • Increased performance

  • Internet Explorer 8 includes many performance improvements that contribute to a faster, more responsive web browsing experience in the areas that matter most. Internet Explorer 8 starts quickly, loads pages fast and instantly gets you started on what you want to do next with a powerful new tab page. In addition, the script engine in Internet Explorer 8 is significantly faster than in previous versions, minimizing the load time for webpages based on JavaScript or Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX).

    Google has commented on IE8 Beta 1 improvements (IE 8 team claim that Internet Explorer 8 is even faster since then):

    "Some of the tests we have done show pure JScript performance improvements up to 2.5 times. We also measured the performance gains on common Gmail operations, like loading the inbox (34%), opening a conversation (45%) and opening a thread (27%) compared to IE7."

    For more details about Internet Explorer 8 performance see article IE8 Performance.

    Microsoft published a report “Measuring the Performance of Browsers”. Published document explain the various benchmarking components and how they impact the performance, document also outline how to setup their own benchmarking environment to test browser performance. For further details Measuring the Performance of Browsers is available for download over the Microsoft download Website. Below is a result for first five webs from report "Measuring the Performance of Browsers".

    Summary of Browser Load Times (in seconds)


    Chrome 1.0

    Firefox 3.05

    IE 8
















    If you don't believe Microsoft you should take a look at independent article Beta Browser Battle 2: Page-load times.

  • Accelerators

  • The new Accelerators in Internet Explorer 8 help you quickly perform your everyday browsing tasks without navigating to other websites to get things done. Simply highlight text from any web page, and then click on the blue Accelerator icon that appears above your selection to obtain driving directions, translate and define words, email content to others, search with ease, and more.

    For example you can use easily call accelerator Translate with Live Search in few clicks and get translated web page without navigating to Live Search page. You just need right click on visited web page, choose "Translate with Live Search", choose language and you will get translated page.

    Sample of using accelerator Translate with Live search

    You can find list of accelerators that you might want to add to your IE8 with their brief description here:

    Firefox users can find implementation of IE8 Activities (now called Accelerators) as Firefox Add-on which is near direct replication of Accelerators.

  • Enhanced navigation

    • Compatibility View

    • Internet Explorer 8 is a new release and some websites may not yet be ready for Internet Explorer 8. Click the Compatibility View toolbar button to display the website as viewed in Internet Explorer 7, which will correct display problems like misaligned text, images, or text boxes. This option is on a per site basis and all other sites will continue to display with Internet Explorer 8 functionality.

      Microsoft has provided a list of web sites that are most likely to be displayed better in Compatibility View in Windows Internet Explorer 8. This list have over 3,000 web sites.

      When users install Windows Internet Explorer 8, they have a choice about opting in to a list of sites that will be displayed in Compatibility View. Sites are listed on the Compatibility View list in response to feedback from other Internet Explorer 8 customers. Specifically, the feedback is based on the high-volume sites for which other users clicked the Compatibility View button. This list updates automatically and helps users who are not Web-savvy have a better experience with Web sites that are not yet Internet Explorer 8-ready.

    • Enhanced Tabbed Browsing

    • Internet Explorer 8 introduces Tab Groups, which make tabbed browsing easier. When one tab is opened from another, the new tab is placed next to the originating tab and color coded, so that you can quickly see which tabs have related content. If you close a tab that's part of a group, another tab from the same group is displayed, enabling you to remain within the context of the current task rather than suddenly looking at an unrelated site.

      Example of grouped tabs in IE 8

    • Better Find On Page

    • The toolbar is integrated below the tab row, so that it does not obscure any content on the page. Instead of waiting for you to type an entire search term and hit Enter, the toolbar searches character-by-character as you type. Matches are highlighted in yellow on the page so that they're easy to identify.

    • Smarter Address Bar

    • Type a few characters in the new Address Bar and Internet Explorer 8 will automatically recall sites you've already visited based on your entry. It searches across your History, Favorites, and RSS Feeds, displaying matches from the website address or any part of the URL. As you type, matched characters are highlighted in blue so you can identify them at a glance. In addition, you can delete any address in the drop-down box by clicking on the red X. This is especially useful for getting rid of misspelled URLs.

    • Improved Zoom

    • Adaptive Page Zoom improves upon traditional zoom-in/zoom-out functionality in the browser by intelligently relaying out the page content and eliminating the need to scroll left and right. This will improve your ability to magnify pages with small fonts and be able to read more on the web.

  • Improved favorites and history management

    • Enhanced Favorites Bar

    • Now there's a better place to keep track of your top favorites. You can save Favorites, RSS Feeds, and Web Slices to the Favorites bar that appears across the top of the browser, quickly navigating to the sites and content that you care about most.

      Favorites bar in IE 8

    • One Click Favorites

    • Press the One Click Add to Favorites bar button and immediately add the page you're browsing to the Favorites Bar, saving you extra clicks.

    • RSS feeds on Favorites bar

    • The Favorites bar has been updated so you can drag an RSS feed to your Favorites bar, making it easier to see when important feeds are updated.

    • History sorting

    • The new Browsing History view allows you to sort your history by Site Name, Most Visited Sites, Order Visited Today, and Date, making it easier to organize and locate sites in your history.

    • History searching

    • In Internet Explorer 8, you can search for pages in history by typing keywords, making it easier to locate sites when browsing your history.

  • Instant search

    • Search suggestions

    • The new search capabilities in Internet Explorer 8 will offer relevant suggestions as you type words into the search box to help save time. Click on a suggestion at any time to immediately execute the search without having to type the entire word or phrase.

    • Visual search

    • Internet Explorer 8 is partnering with top search providers like Live Search, Wikipedia, Yahoo, Amazon, and more to deliver "visual search" images that provide you with immediate answers. For example, typing "Obama" with Live Search will instantly show you a preview of the current weather directly in the Search Box drop-down. You can choose providers with click on "Find more providers". In picture bellow Wikipedia visual search is selected.

      Visual search in internet explorer 8

  • Web Slices

  • Using Web Slices, you can keep up with frequently updated sites directly from the new Favorites Bar. If a Web Slice is available on a page, a green Web Slices icon will appear in the upper-right hand corner of the browser. In this moment ebay site uses web slices. Click on this icon to easily subscribe and add the Web Slices to the Favorites Bar so you can keep track of that "slice" of the web.

    Add web slice from ebay

    After Web Slices is added you can click Web Slice on Favorites Bar to preview relevant information without visits web site. In example on those two pictures user track bids for laptop with help of Web Slice.

    Web Slice in favorites bar

  • Automatic crash recovery

  • If a website or add-on causes a tab to crash in Internet Explorer 8, only that tab is affected. The browser itself remains stable and other tabs remain unaffected, thereby minimizing any disruption to your browsing experience.
    If one or more of your tabs unexpectedly closes or crashes, your tabs are automatically reloaded and you are returned to the site you were on before the crash.

  • Browse privately

    • InPrivate Browsing

    • When checking e-mail at an Internet cafĂ© or shopping for a gift on a family PC, you don't want to leave any trace of specific web browsing activity. InPrivate Browsing in Internet Explorer 8 helps prevent your browsing history, temporary Internet files, form data, cookies, and usernames and passwords from being retained by the browser, leaving no evidence of your browsing or search history.

      You can start InPrivate Browsing by opening a new tab and selecting Browse with InPrivate or selecting it from the Safety button on the top right corner of the browser window. Once you complete this action, Internet Explorer 8 will launch a new browser session that won't record any information, including searches or webpage visits. To end your InPrivate Browsing session, simply close the browser window.

      Firefox fans can use Private Browsing 1.2.0 which enables not only private no history browsing, but the ability to clear certain, part or all of browsing history when closing Firefox. This will work in Firefox 3.0.8, however the Beta build of Firefox 3.1 has Private Browsing built right in.

    • InPrivate Filtering

    • Today websites increasingly pull content in from multiple sources, providing tremendous value to consumer and sites alike. Users are often not aware that some content, images, ads and analytics are being provided from third party websites or that these websites have the ability to potentially track their behavior across multiple websites. InPrivate Filtering provides users an added level of control and choice about the information that third party websites can potentially use to track browsing activity.

      InPrivate Filtering is off by default and must be enabled on a per-session basis. To use this feature, select InPrivate Filtering from the Safety menu. To access and manage different filtering options for Internet Explorer 8, select InPrivate Filtering Settings from the Safety menu. To end your InPrivate Browsing session, simply close the browser window.

For Firefox users I recommend very interested article Duplicate IE 8 Features in FireFox 3.

Related articles on this blog:
IE developer tools - integrated in IE 8

Related articles from other sources:
Microsoft Internet Explorer 8: the good the bad and the ugly


Anonymous said...

I develop websites. Anyone who develops websites knows that IE does not handle javascript or css properly. If IE did not exist the internet would be a better place. Time wasted trying to get webpages to work in a dysfunctional browser could be spent on something useful.
Ask a web designer what they think of Internet Explorer and you will be hard pressed to hear a good word.

Mark said...

Thanx on your response.
I am web developer too, and my main job is developing and maintaining business web application for IE. And we use plenty of javascript.
I must agree that IE is not perfect but my opinion about IE is not so bad.