The latest preview release of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) browser has drawn mixed reactions from testers, with some praising its performance while others questioned its compliance with web standards.
IE8’s most significant enhancement is that it defaults to rendering web pages in the most standards-compliant way possible. Earlier versions of Microsoft’s web browser had many quirks, and developers often designed their web sites for compatibility with these because the majority of surfers used IE. For problem sites, Microsoft has provided a “compatibility view” in the latest release that switches to rendering pages as in IE7.
But the software giant has some way to go in meeting developer requirements, judging by comments posted to its IE blog. Several testers complained that the beta 2 version crashed or exhibited unusual behaviour.
One commentator suggested that if users keep encountering problem pages, they may decide to “give up and use compatibility mode for everything”, which might undermine Microsoft’s attempts to back a standards-based approach.
To aid IT departments, IE8 can be “slipstreamed” into Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 rather than being installed separately, while new group policy settings allow administrators to control some IE8 features after deployment.
IE8 also boasts increased security, such as a filter to block cross-site scripting attacks, commonly used to steal information from web site visitors. Another key feature is isolation between browser tabs, so that a crash in one tab will not affect web pages displayed in others.