Internet Explorer 8 Released by Microsoft
- Mon 23 Mar 2009 at 16:00
Microsoft officially released Internet Explorer 8 (external link) to the world last Thursday. Even though IE7 still feels rather new in the web development world, due to its rather slow adoption, IE8 is the first major release of the browser since October 2006. IE8 features:
- Private browsing mode
- Web slices
- Better page zooming
- Better RSS reader
- Developer tools
- Improvements to the rendering engine, security, and performance
Microsoft have made a number of fixes and improvements to IE's rendering engine in IE8. Finally, IE8 passes the Acid2 test (external link), but it still does not fair well on the Acid3 test (external link), only passing 20 out of 100 tests.
The improvements in web-standards compliancy in IE8 have forced Microsoft to introduce some form of backwards compatibility for sites designed for the past broken IE rendering engines. Developers can add a
<meta> tag to their webpage so that IE8 will render it as if it were IE7:
<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=7" />
Before, Microsoft were trying to require websites to add a
<meta> tag to use IE8's improved rendering engine, an opt-in style instead of an opt-out. There was a huge uproar because opting-in is extremely counter intuitive to web standards. Therefore, Microsoft went with the opt-out approach, which will help to get more businesses on board upgrading because IE8 is guaranteed to support any proprietary internal software they might be using that is designed for IE7.
Microsoft have also included an icon in the menu bar for websites designed for "older browsers" (aka IE7 and IE6) that when pressed will render them using the IE7 rendering engine.
Overall, Microsoft still feel really behind the other web browsers in the market. Whilst all the other browsers are working on or have passed the Acid3 test, Microsoft has finally just passed the Acid2 test. For how much money and effort they devote to IE, Microsoft just as easily could have popped a new interface over WebKit or Gecko. It would have saved them so much time and money, plus be beneficial for web developers.
Nonetheless, I am personally glad to see Microsoft at least working towards an improved IE8. Simply the fact that they are working on it is a huge relief to me because for so long IE6 sat untouched. Hopefully by IE10, Microsoft will either have ditched the Trident rendering engine for something else or will have discontinued the browser in favour of Opera or Firefox.