Microsoft's latest update to the world's most popular browser, Internet Explorer, went live today at 12 Noon EST. Travel to Microsoft's site and download IE 8, install it, and enjoy a new, moderately improved, web-browsing experience...unless you have a Mac. Right now, the new browser is PC only.
Among the improvements and features you can expect:
- Improved security: NSS Labs released an independent study today showing IE8 beating competing web browsers Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome and Opera in catching and blocking badware. IE8 caught 69 percent of malware, while Firefox 3.07 caught only 30 percent.
- InPrivate Browsing: A mode that keeps no trail of browsing history. I'm sure you can understand the utility of this mode, but to spell it out, TheFeed's Frank Meyer called it "Porn Mode."
- User Interface Improvements: Improvements include color-coded browser tabs, the ability to recommend sites, a "visual search feature" that allows users to see pictures of things like eBay and Amazon search results, auto-completion of searches and URLs, and a toolbar for searching within a page. Taking a tip from Google's "Chrome" browser, the new IE allows individual tabs to work in isolation, so one crashed site doesn't bring down the whole browser.
- Increased speed: Microsoft ran some tests and its product won! So Microsoft says its browser is generally faster than the competition... but it did say that difference comes down to "milliseconds."
- Standards support: Okay, this one is a little techy, but Microsoft's new browser contains both a "legacy browsing mode" and a standards browsing mode so web standards are supported, but non-standard sites still work, too. Best of both worlds? I guess it depends on how well it works! Anyway, developers tag their sites either "standard" or not, and the browser, apparently, does the rest, so you don't have to worry about it.
I spoke to Internet historian and Attack of the Show news producer Scott Moschella, and he gave this perspective. "I haven't used IE 8 yet. I'm a Mac user, but Microsoft's browser has such a foothold because it comes with your computer. Everyone's parent uses IE until you hide the icon, install Firefox and tell them 'This is the internet.'
"So they've always been chasing the Fox, and I don't think they'll catch up. They've been adding features that Firefox and Chrome added first. Firefox is open-source, so people can fix it; IE is a bunch of guys in a boardroom trying to figure out what grandma wants. The tech savvy have mostly given up on IE by now."
Personally, I use a combination of Firefox and Internet Explorer for work, but for my personal use, it's Firefox all the way. I'm going to give this new IE a spin and see how it goes. How about you? What browser do you prefer? And if you tell me Mosaic, I'll know you're O.G. (Original Geek).
Unrelated observation: Check out the above picture that illustrates this post. It's taken directly from Microsoft's site. Look at those wild, Jackass style dudes going nuts with their new web browser! Wow, Microsoft is for lovers. Now I really want that new browser!