Microsoft made available Internet Explorer 8 RC1 (release candidate 1), which means that as far as Microsoft is concerned, IE8 is cooked and that barring anything major, this will become the final release. So, what’s the new browser like?
A new release of IE is always important because this is the browser that many millions of Windows users will be surfing the web with daily. Like it or not, by the very fact that IE is knitted into every Windows installation makes this an important event.
After what seemed like years of stagnation, Microsoft is continuing the tradition of kitting out IE8 with features that users of other browsers take for granted. According to its team blog, the latest version of the browser includes some general performance improvements, plus added security to avoid clickjacking attempts and some very nice features built-in, including:
* Smart Address Bar
The address bar isn’t now just a place to type URLs into. The Smart Address bar in IE8 tries to make sense of what the user is looking for by retrieving sites visited from the history and bookmarks. This is handy for those times when you want to find something but can’t remember where you saw it.
* Enhanced find
Sometimes it’s not finding the site that’s difficult, but finding where on the page you need to look for the information that you are after. IE8 offers a broad range of enhanced and improved tools to help you spot the information you are after. One such example if this is result highlighting.
* Tab groups
When one tab is opened from another one, the new tab is placed next to the one from which it was opened, and both are marked with a colored tab. This is a good way to keep track of your open tabs.
Along with keeping track of stuff that you might later want to refer back to, IE8 also gives you powerful tools that allow the browser to have temporary amnesia in relation to the sites you’ve visited by temporarily halting the writing of information to the cache and history.
* Crash recovery
If your IE locks up of crashes while you’ve a shed-load of tabs open, with IE8 there’s a good chance that when you fire up the browser again that it will remember what what sites you had open and fire them up again. It can also reload information that you had typed into forms.
The RC1 version of IE8 is compatible with Windows Vista, Windows XP and Windows Server releases. It’s not currently compatible with Microsoft’s Windows 7 Beta operating system, which comes with its own version of IE8.
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