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Look Out, Firefox 3 — IE8 Is Back On Top For Now 662

CWmike writes "Internet Explorer 8 has shipped in its final version and is ready to take on its rivals. Preston Gralla reviewed it and says the latest version of Microsoft's browser leapfrogs its closest competition, Firefox 3, for basic browsing and productivity features — it has better tab handling, a niftier search bar, a more useful address bar, and new tools that deliver information directly from other Web pages and services. IE8 has also been tweaked for security and includes a so-called 'porn mode,' new anti-malware protection, and better ways to protect your privacy. The most noticeable new features? Accelerators and Web Slices. Think of an Accelerator as a mini-mashup that delivers information from another Web site directly to your current browser page. Web Slices deliver changing information from a Web page you're not actively visiting directly to IE8. There's one big problem for many, though. No add-ins, and there doesn't appear to be such an ecosystem on the horizon. So if you're a fan of add-ins and customizing the browser itself, writes Gralla, Firefox is superior. But for the actual browsing experience, IE8 has the upper hand — for now."
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Look Out, Firefox 3 — IE8 Is Back On Top For Now

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  • by imajinarie ( 1057148 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:46AM (#27256703)
    IE's primary function for me will still be as Firefox Downloader 8.0
    • Re:Best attribute (Score:5, Insightful)

      by XaviorPenguin ( 789745 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:52AM (#27256793) Homepage Journal
      Besides, I think that whoever is using Firefox will continue to use it regardless of what IEX Browser comes out. The people that will be moving to IE8 will be those people that have used are privy to the previous IE Browser incarnations.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        The people that will be moving to IE8 will be those people that have been subjected to the previous IE Browser incarnations.


  • Fluff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HunterZ ( 20035 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:46AM (#27256705) Journal
    Looks like a bunch of fluff. Not even anything about raw performance or memory footprint or standards compliance.
    • Re:Fluff (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JCSoRocks ( 1142053 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:47AM (#27256727)
      Yeah, what's the point of "better tab handling" and a "niftier search bar" if the results look like crap because it can't render everything properly?
      • Re:Fluff (Score:5, Funny)

        by JohnBailey ( 1092697 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @01:17PM (#27258147)

        Yeah, what's the point of "better tab handling" and a "niftier search bar" if the results look like crap because it can't render everything properly?

        Be fair.. it renders everything perfectly....... Everything written for IE8 that is.

  • Add-ins (Score:5, Funny)

    by nizo ( 81281 ) * on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:46AM (#27256707) Homepage Journal

    [IE8 has] no add-ins, and there doesn't appear to be such an ecosystem on the horizon.

    Never fear; I'm sure there will be plenty soon enough, and they will most likely install themselves! Check here [us-cert.gov] to find out about new ones as they get released.

    • Re:Add-ins (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:50AM (#27256765)

      they will most likely install themselves

      Such convenience! Verily, IE is superior to Firefox. :P

    • Re:Add-ins (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Araxen ( 561411 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @12:06PM (#27257041)

      Add-ins are the "killer app" of the browser for me. I don't think I'll ever switch from Firefox if competing browsers don't have this feature built into it. I just couldn't live without stuff like foxmarks, flagfox, customisegoogle, etc..

      Yeah, IE8 can render pages faster but who really cares when pages render in a matter of seconds in any of the browsers on the market. 1 or 2 second difference means nothing to me. Add-ins mean alot to me and are the defining feature and without them it makes IE an inferior browser to Firefox.

  • Security? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:47AM (#27256717)
    Accelerators and Web Slices both sound like they are big gaping security holes waiting to be exploited.
    • Re:Security? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Alphager ( 957739 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @12:11PM (#27257149) Homepage Journal
      You don't seem to understand what Accelerators are. They are additional markup which denotes that additional information can be downloaded on demand by the user. An example would be the map-accelerator: if you mark an adress with the additional markup, a user can right-click on the area and open google maps in an iframe. Nothing automatic, nothing wierd or non-standard. There even exist a firefox-addon for that functionality: http://www.cleeki.com/firefox.html [cleeki.com]
  • by mahsah ( 1340539 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:47AM (#27256721)

    Yes, thanks to the new javascript a-

    Well, crap.

    • by Spliffster ( 755587 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @01:18PM (#27258165) Homepage Journal

      You are modded Funny, I would have modded You Insightful but decided to comment.

      In a time where even Joe Avarage's webpage starts utilizing javascript frameworks such as JQuery, ExtJs, GWT, prototype and the such I have to ask who cares about html rendering speeds?

      Trident, the rendering engine of IE, has been famous for it's bad Javascript performance (especially on string manipulation which is often heavily used). Does IE have better javascript performance? I ask, because the competition is successfully upping their standards in this area.


  • Porn Mode? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:48AM (#27256729)

    Will it prevent Sticky Keys from activating?

  • No add-ins? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shin-LaC ( 1333529 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:48AM (#27256731)
    What about all those third-party toolbars that proliferated for previous versions of IE? Surely they were built on some kind of extension support. Has it been removed?
  • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:49AM (#27256757)
    1. Click this link: http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=ie8 [google.co.uk]
    2. On the second search result, read the first line of the description.
    3. ...
    4. (Don't) profit!
  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:50AM (#27256773) Homepage

    My first question with every new release of IE is, "How well does it render valid HTML+CSS?"

    Yeah, I don't really care if it's fast and has "Web Accelerators". Will it display properly written pages properly? Are developers going to have to keep putting hacks into their pages to deal with IE quirks? If they aren't adhering to standards, then it's not really worth much.

  • by captainpanic ( 1173915 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:52AM (#27256797)

    This whole market thingy seems to work.
    There is competition driven innovation, and a number of large companies are fighting for the market share.

    I like it... although I doubt that my Ubuntu will run IE8, so I guess I won't use IE8 too much - perhaps I'll check it in Wine ;)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times ( 778537 )

      Yes, it does seem to work-- just so long as the US federal government, several state governments, and the whole EU are battling Microsoft to keep them from engaging in anti-competitive practices.

      The free market works, but this is a case where governmental intervention is required to keep a market free.

  • by chalkyj ( 927554 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:53AM (#27256807)

    Each tab is isolated from the others, so if one tab crashes, the entire browser doesn't go down. You can then restore the crashed tab, and when you do, it reloads with the information that had been in it when it crashed, such as a partially written e-mail. And if you were watching a video, the video will start playing at the point the tab crashed, not at the beginning of the video.

    Cool as that seems in theory, doesn't automatically reloading the exact state that the tab was in when it crashed mean that it will probably just crash again as soon as you reload it?

  • All alone (Score:5, Funny)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <{akaimbatman} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:53AM (#27256813) Homepage Journal

    IE8 Is Back On Top For Now

    You know that kid who rushes to the top of the hill, just knowing that he's finally going to win King of the Hill for the first time ever? Then when he gets to the top of the hill, he's elated when he realizes he's at the top... only to realize a few moments later that all the other kids ran up a different hill?

    That's Microsoft.

  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:54AM (#27256819) Homepage Journal
    Accelerator as a mini-mashup that delivers information from another Web site directly to your current browser page.

    I have this set up with widgets. It is useful to have certain snippets of web pages at ones fingertips. So I agree that it is a cool feature.

    OTOH, implanting this in the browser seems like a serious security risk to me. How many times have we seen something like this used to steal someone's password to their bank account or otherwise make people believe they are on a secure site? How will they keep this feature from being hijacked?

    In the end this sounds like feature bloat. It is not part of what MS said IE8 would be, which is a faster, more standards based browser.

  • Oh great (Score:5, Funny)

    by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:54AM (#27256837) Journal
    a niftier search bar,

    Niftier search bar? What, did they include Clippy?

    a more useful address bar,

    How much more useful can one make an address bar? It's sole purpose is to provide a place to type in a web address. If by useful, do they mean that horrid Awesome Bar?

    and new tools that deliver information directly from other Web pages and services.

    Oh joy. Nothing like having your connection come to a crawl as some Flash advertisement tries to load in another page as it it's "delivered" to your system.

    Ya know, there's something to be said for simplicity. But then, we are talking about developers who don't know the meaning of simplicity.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:58AM (#27256901)
  • by Cryogenic Specter ( 702059 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @11:59AM (#27256935)
    I have been using the beta and RC1 for some time now and over all it is an improvement. The CSS model for this version is closer to standard and that is a major bonus. The new "broken page" button is useful since it reverts back to the CSS model for IE7. Many sites use a generic conditional to determine if the user is browsing with ANY version of IE and then use that information to override some CSS styles.

    This causes problems with IE8 since it is closer to being correct; these "fixes" throw it off. I am sure that sites will begin to change as IE8 use spreads. Until IE6 finally dies (still has 20% market share) though, I am saddened that the world is still suffer with IE hacks.

    One bad thing, reverting back to IE7 is pretty much impossible in most cases.

    Another, some old Active X controls do not work.

    Ok, one more, they use an interconnected process model like Chrome so that the whole world does not crash when one bad page causes problems. Yeah, that is a great idea, but in my experience, it locks your whole machine and crashes every instance. Boo!

  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @12:00PM (#27256959)

    Good to see innovation is back in town. I won't be using IE anytime soon, at least not until there is a Linux or OS-X release of the browser. But I'm sure the Firefox, Opera, Chrome, etc. developers are going to take a good hard look at those features, and we'll see the best innovations appear in other browsers really soon. And hopefully even more nifty functions inspired by this.

    The last two, three years have seen more innovation in the browser than the ten years before that. FF 1 was nice and up to par - adding tabs but not that much more, FF 2 was a serious improvement, but only in FF 3 I start to see very serious changes and improvements - it starts to feel experimental at times - in an innovative way, something that I don't feel in FF 2. Is it because MS has picked up their pace in UI innovation? Is it because Google has launched Chrome with its super-javascript-engine? Or maybe because alternative Safari has gained mainstream recognition with its Windows version and the iPhone version? Or more likely all of the above?

    Interesting times ahead, for sure. Very interesting times. And a lot of hard hard work for anyone involved in browser development to keep their brainchild on top. What a little competition can do! For once I will say: go, Microsoft, go, you're starting to do well in this. Just make sure you stick to the standards as otherwise you won't make it against the competition. The competition is too strong for that kind of tricks already.

  • by hedronist ( 233240 ) * on Thursday March 19, 2009 @12:02PM (#27256991)

    First, a joke circa 1983: a hardware guy and a software guy (remember, this was 1983) take an HP Unix system to the roof of a 5 story building. They connect a long extension cord, boot it up, and throw it off the roof. There is a resounding crash and they rush down to see the results. "Wow!" shouts the hardware guy, "it's still running!" The software guy shrugs and says, "Yeah, but it's still running HP-UX."

    What's my point? It may be better than previous MSIE attempts, but it is still Microsoft, it's still IE, and it still only runs on Windows. As a web designer the rule is still: make it look right in Firefox, then unbreak it in MSIE{6,7,8}.

  • by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @12:02PM (#27256995) Homepage

    Think of an Accelerator as a mini-mashup that delivers information from another Web site directly to your current browser page.

    Sounds like a *wonderful* malware delivery system.

    Web Slices deliver changing information from a Web page you're not actively visiting directly to IE8.

    Yet another malware delivery system.

    Why, in 2009, are they slapping on another layer of lard on top of their needlessly complex and largely ineffective OS security?

    One thing is for sure, they aren't going to stop releasing dumb things like this so I'll never be out of work babysitting their products.

  • Subjectivity Alert (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Helmholtz ( 2715 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @12:11PM (#27257135) Homepage

    "...But for the actual browsing experience..."

    Things like "browser experience" are so completely subjective as to have no meaning. The standard counters often include mentions of "general users" and other equally nonsensical strawmen. I don't mind people expressing opinions about their "browser experiences", in fact I think more people should talk about what they like and don't like. What I cringe at is when the difference between a review and opinion piece disappears, or becomes so ambiguous that it might as well be disappeared.

    Yes, I know this is a dead horse, but even dead horses deserve a fresh flogging from time to time.

  • by solios ( 53048 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @12:13PM (#27257179) Homepage

    I'm not going to run windows just for "the best web browser." They want to resurrect the Mac IE port, I'm all for that - IE 5 for the Mac was the best browser on the platform until Mozilla came along.

    It doesn't matter how "good" IE8 is - it's windows only, and Windows + Internet == Screaming Assrape. While I run windows at home and at work for non-Mac apps, I don't connect to the internet with my windows machines. I don't use samba (I use an SCP client which is slower but imo less of an asspain than windows networking), I don't download anything, and I damn sure don't install anything that didn't come from a vendor disk.

    End result : exponentially fewer security problems than friends who run XP on their wintendos.

    IE8 could give me winning lottery numbers and blow jobs... but I'm not running a web browser on Windows, ever. It's like having sex without a condom at an STD conference.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Canazza ( 1428553 )

      Windows + Internet only equals Screaming assrape IF YOUR DOING IT WRONG.

      Damnit, a little bit of sense, a little bit of trepidation, a little bit of intellect will save you from ALOT of hassle on the internet. Remember, the browsing internet is like running around a main Road at 2am, it looks safe, it seems safe, but you still look both ways before crossing. And to be sure, the one time you cross without looking there WILL be a truck coming.

  • by malevolentjelly ( 1057140 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @01:02PM (#27257941) Journal

    I am not a linux/firefox fanboy, so I am going to assess this browser fairly and try to answer a few questions brought up on this thread. Since I am probably the only user here running Windows by choice, so I consider this a duty. Furthermore, I am an Opera user, so my expectations for speed and performance are totally insane and unreasonable.

    First off, what's wrong:

    * I am using IE 8 to write this comment and I am already missing my integrated spel chekkar.

    * All the fun browser hacks I use to test new browsers are not working still, so the standards support of this release is the same as before. Of course, you won't see too much upper level DOM and advanced CSS on the part of web people actually use.

    * The tabs seem to open really slow, but I believe it is actually process isolating its tabs now. The memory use per tab is about 10-30 mb, which is around if not slightly below where Chrome is on this system.

    * Acid 3: 12/100

    What's right:

    * The page loads are brutally fast- faster than Opera 10 in some cases. For instance, MSNBC and BBC News, two of my favorite sites pop up at crazy speed. However, Slashdot --which is specifically engineered to run poorly on every new release of IE (it's very firefox-quirky)-- comes up quite slowly. When I first saw the page load charts that Microsoft put out, my first response was that there was a good reason Opera wasn't on that chart- but IE did a fantastic job of playing to the most popular websites. Keep this in mind if you are either a facebook user or stalking your kids on facebook.

    * If you only use IE to download firefox, you will be happy to know that the mozilla webpage loads faster on IE than any other browser, firefox included.


    The overall interface of the browser is quite nice. If you're used to using Firefox, this is actually much faster and handles its memory better and such. However, Firefox is not a particularly fast or well designed browser. The interface will feel sluggish if you're used to Opera or Chrome. As an Opera user, my idea of browsing the web involves launching through pages at break-neck speed middle-clicking links as I go along and loading about 20-30 tabs at a time. I have a feeling my computer would explode if I did that with IE 8. However, the same could be said for Firefox 3.

    The article is quite correct in saying that this browser is very fast and correct for the real web which most people browse- and that's something that should be noted. It seems as though Firefox has gotten so obsessed with javascript benchmarks and other such fluff that it's let its real world performance slide to the extent that it's now being challenged by IE.

    Since IE is still totally unchallenged by other browsers in terms of enterprise features like advanced group policy, this new release of IE will simply mean that browsing the web at work/school will be a lot less lame and obnoxious... but considering the state of the economy, you should be all be working very very hard right now.

    If you have any questions or challenges for IE 8 and don't run windows or ie 8, let me know and I will give you the results.


  • Standalone version? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by aero2600-5 ( 797736 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @01:06PM (#27257997)
    So, being a web developer, the first thing I did after seeing this news was look for the standalone version of IE8, so that I can run it next to IE7 and test in both. No such luck. So I called their support line, and spoke to some guy in India with a fake American-sounding name, who told me that I couldn't run IE7 and IE8 at the same time. He's probably right, if you discount the Virtual PC option.

    So can anyone out there point me at a free virtual PC image that runs IE7 or IE8 so that I can do my QA work? Or to a standalone version of IE8?

    Thanks in advance.
  • by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @01:38PM (#27258495)

    This is nothing new (atleast for me).

  • by edmicman ( 830206 ) on Thursday March 19, 2009 @02:14PM (#27259131) Homepage Journal

    Is this just fishing for page views? On what planet are they thinking the IE8 experience is better than any of the alternatives?

    I've been using the IE8 builds at work since they released the beta. Sure, it's leaps and bounds better than IE7, which itself was better than IE6. But it still doesn't come close to Firefox or Chrome.

    Even forgetting the extensions like AdBlock, IE's UI and rendering just feels sluggish after using Firefox or Chrome.

    What is the crack they're smoking at computerworld?

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith