Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) was released on March 19 to little fanfare, but the update to the most popular browser in the world has a lot of great new features that markedly improve its speed and functionality.
Here are some of my favorite new features in IE8.
This great new feature gives the typically boring and static tabs found in Internet Explorer 7 new life. The tab colors represent linked websites that are opened within each other. For example, if you were to visit our homepage and right click on one of the links and open it in a new tab, the tabs would be the same color. You can see examples of the colorful tabs in the above screenshot (click on the picture for a larger view).
Improved "New Tab" Page:
IE8 has tried to improve its new tab page to provide users with a more intuitive and usable interface. Some of the features included on the "New Tab" page are:
- The ability to reopen closed tabs
- The option to open an "InPrivate" mode window (discussed later in the post)
- The option to use an accelerator (discussed later in the post)
Check out a screenshot of the improved "New Tab" below:
Microsoft has gone a long ways to try and improve IE8's privacy options and InPrivate mode is one of its biggest improvements. By clicking on Tools, then InPrivate Browsing (or hitting Ctrl+Shift+P) you will be entered into the private browsing mode. While InPrivate, you can go to any website without it being saved in your history or in any way on your computer. This is great for logging into bank accounts and doing other online transactions.
Adding accelerators to IE8 is a mixed bag of annoyance and functionality. Basically, accelerators try to speed up your Internet surfing by providing you with tools to blog, look up maps, and search Wikipedia among other things. The annoyance factor comes into play when you are highlighting text, and the user is presented with a big blue arrow to give them quick access to the accelerators. This arrow may not bug some, but I found that it covered up a lot of text that I was often reading or deciding whether or not to copy. It quickly reminded me of the quick access toolbar in Office 2007. But if you use the accelerators, this tool could prove useful.
General Feel and Speed:
This is the best improvement to IE8, in that the browser feels snappier, and generally much quicker. While I still don't think that its up to par with Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or even Opera; the speeds and feel are drastically better then the sluggish IE7.
IE8 is a great upgrade if you're still using IE7 or the especially terrible IE6. While I still prefer Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome for my browsing, IE8 has certainly raised my eyebrows and surprised me a bit. Maybe with IE9, Microsoft will take over as the king in speed and functionality in the browser wars.
Where Can I Get It?
Visit this page, click on the orange "Download Now" button, and follow the instructions.