Internet Explorer 8
Should I upgrade to Internet Explorer 8? How does it compare to Firefox, when it comes to features, speed and security?
What's New in Internet Explorer 8
Thinking about taking the plunge with the new Internet Explorer? IE8 has only been out a short time but has already received widespread publicity. The company claims it is "faster, easier and safer," so let's take a look at what's new in this browser release and see if it lives up to the hype.
New Navigation Features in IE8
Tab Groups can help you manage a large group of open tabs, by grouping them according to content. When you open one tab from another tab, the new tab appears next to the originating tab and is color coded. A simple right-click will close a tab, or the entire group. Once you get used to tabbed browsing, you'll find it much nicer than opening multiple browser windows when you want to view more than one site at a time.
IE8's Find On Page toolbar has been redesigned as well and can be activated via the Edit menu, Ctrl-F or search box. The find toolbar appears below the tab row when activated. Searches are performed character by character as you type, and matches are highlighted. Hmmm, kinda like Firefox...
There's also a smarter address bar. If you want to find a previous site, you simply start typing. IE8 searches through all your sources and highlights them in blue. The address bar also highlights the domain name portion of the URL in block, so there's less chance you'll end up at the wrong site.
Because some sites are not yet compatible with IE8, you can click the Compatibility View toolbar button to view the site as it would appear with in IE7. This will correct display problems, such as misaligned text and images. You can maintain a list of sites that should be displayed in Compatibility View, so you don't have to click the button each time you visit.
IE8 AcceleratorsI like the time-saving Accelerators in Internet Explorer 8. Here's how they work: Highlight some text on a web page, then click the blue Accelerator icon. You'll get a popup that lets you feed the highlighted text directly into another tool, such as a dictionary, translator, or map. You can also feed the text into a blog, an email message, or search at Google, Amazon or eBay. The results appear in a floating window right on the page.
For example, you can highlight an address on the page you're viewing, then select the "Map with Live Maps" accelerator to view an interactive map without ever leaving the page.
Security Improvements in IE8
InPrivate, located on the toolbar, lets you browse incognito. IE will not keep a history of any sites you view using InPrivate mode, and will wipe the cache and cookies when you're done, effectively leaving no trace of your visit. Learn more about the pros, cons and limitations of private browsing in my companion article Private Browsing.
When you use the optional SmartScreen Filter, a screen pops up with a warning when you visit a site that may contain malware or a phishing attack. It will also notify you if you attempt to download software that may not be safe.
The Cross Site Scripting Filter enables IE8 to detect malicious code running on rogue or compromised websites. This feature helps to protect you from attacks which can steal account information, identity theft, and other hazards.
Data Execution Prevention is an IE8 security feature that can block viruses and other security threats from running on your machine.
Comparing IE8 to Firefox
So how does the new Explorer stack up against Firefox 3? There are certainly plenty of geeks out there, like the guys at PC Mag, with time on their hands to literally find out. Most of them downloaded both browsers, and IE8 was generally the winner, although not by much. Half a second or less doesn't really merit awards, although IE's downloading of Apple's home page twice as fast as Firefox warrants some attention.
The browser wars often resemble a see-saw. IE8 has matched some of Firefox's popular features, and has upped the ante with some new ones. They've also renewed focus on speed and security. So that brings up an interesting point. The reasons most commonly cited for ditching Internet Explorer are slower speed and poor security. Microsoft seems to have the edge for now in features and speed. And if they can demonstrate that they've nailed down the security issues (at least as well as the Mozilla folks) then the motivation for switching to an alternative browser becomes vanishingly small. But you can bet that the collective of programmers that develop Firefox will not be resting. It will be interesting to see if the Firefox market share continues to grow, or if it has peaked.
Chime in! Post a comment or question about your experience with Internet Explorer 8, and we'll discuss below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 20 Apr 2009
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Internet Explorer 8 (Posted: 20 Apr 2009)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved