With the public release of its second beta, Microsoft said it intends for the Internet Explorer 8 browser to be more customer-oriented than previous versions of its browser. Our initial impression of Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 is positive: we think Microsoft has not only caught up with Opera, Safari, and Firefox, but in some cases even surpasses these other browsers with its innovative new features. IE8 offers people several enhancements like color-coded tabs, increased privacy options, and greater security features baked right in. Most of the new features require systems to be running Windows Vista SP1 or Windows XP SP3. The final version of Internet Explorer 8 is expected in November 2008.
The user interface hasn't changed much since Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1, except to add a Security pull-down menu between Page and Tools on the main toolbar. In addition to blocking phishing sites, IE8 now highlights the main domain of any Web site you visit. Thus, if something other than eBay.com is highlighted, chances are you are on the wrong Web site. Perhaps the most anticipated addition is Internet Explorer's new antimalware protection. Opera 9.5 and Firefox 3 both recently added antimalware protection. Safari has so far not announced plans for similar protection. Using mostly its own antimalware technology, Microsoft will block emerging threats by masking the entire IE 8 browser screen with a warning to users. The addition of malware protection to the existing antiphishing protection will be rebranded as the Microsoft SmartScreen filter.
In another feature, known as InPrivate, Microsoft allows the browser to suspend caching functions while you surf. Some scenarios for using InPrivate might be when you're using someone else's computer, when you need to buy a gift for a loved one without ruining the surprise, or when you're at an Internet kiosk and don't want the next person to know which Web site you visited. While you can currently clear the browser cache with a mouse click, it's an all-or-nothing action. InPrivate temporarily suspends the automatic caching functions, allowing you to keep the rest of your browsing history intact.
IE8 also contains a cross-site scripting filter, one of the first in a mainstream browser. Cross-site scripting allows an attacker to execute script on a user's browser without them knowing. When the IE8 filter finds a Web page with a cross-site scripting request, it changes the content on the page with a notice. Users are not presented with an option; IE simply blocks the malicious script from executing and displays the rest of the page.
This is just a few of the new features added to Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2. Are you ready to try this version? What are your thoughts about Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2?
It is available at Microsoft's Internet Explorer Home Page for downloading if interested.