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March 19, 2009

Microsoft ships Internet Explorer 8 (IE8)

Posted by David Hunter at 5:29 PM ET.

Microsoft today released Internet Explorer 8 (IE8):

Today Microsoft Corp. announced the availability of Windows Internet Explorer 8, the new Web browser that offers the best solution for how people use the Web today. It can be downloaded in 25 languages at starting at noon EDT on March 19. Internet Explorer 8 is easier to use, faster and offers leading-edge security features in direct response to people’s increasing concerns about online safety.

I have largely abandoned Internet Explorer in favor of Firefox and Chrome except for checking my websites to see how they render in IE because it still holds 70% of the browser market. The primary problem with IE7 was that it was a lumbering behemoth and the early reviews indicate that while IE8 is better, it is still not competitive:

But, in my tests, IE8 wasn’t as fast as Firefox, or two other notable browsers — the Windows version of Apple’s (AAPL) new Safari 4 and Google’s (GOOG) Chrome. IE8 loaded a variety of pages I tested more slowly than any of the other browsers, and it grew sluggish when juggling a large number of Web pages opened simultaneously in tabs.

Firefox also has a vibrant community of 3rd party add-ons which Internet Explorer lacks.

As for the Web site rendering, I am sure that there will be complaints about IE8 standards compliance, but the biggest immediate problem will likely be the Web sites coded to take advantage of past Internet Explorer peculiarities. To ease the withdrawal pains Microsoft has implemented a "IE7 compatibility mode" in IE8 which is triggered in various ways:

Try explaining that to your aged relatives. In the end, IE8 standards mode is just another browser that Web developers have to code and test for and it will happen eventually with hope springing eternal that it isn’t too much different than supporting Firefox.

So what’s the net? Internet Explorer 8 is a better browser than IE7 which is good news, but it isn’t a world beater.

Filed under IE7, IE8, Internet Explorer, Microsoft, Standards

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