Thursday, May 7, 2009

Microsoft's New Internet Explorer 8

If you have recently downloaded your critical updates you've noticed Microsoft is officially pushing its new Internet Explorer browser, IE8. There are some great new features in this release that may help Microsoft compete with Mozilla in the browser wars, as well as much better security than IE7.

My favorite new feature in IE8 is that you can now move the refresh and stop buttons back to the left of the address bar, where nature intended. I hated that in IE7.

Now on to stuff that really matters. Here are three of my favorite features of IE8, and you can see more features and in-depth info at the IE8 home page

Compatibility Button

When a new web browser is released, not every website is re-written immediately to adjust to changes the new browser may offer, thus a website you frequent may look a little funky the first time in a new browser. IE8 makes up for this with Compatibility View.

If you encounter a site that doesn't work exactly right with IE8, you can now click the Compatibility View Button which is just to the left of the refresh button on the address bar. With one click, you're now viewing the site the way IE7 would see it.

Web Slices
I usually check email several times a day, as well as stock quotes, my fantasy baseball points, etc. This requires the hassle of having multiple tabs open, and even more hassle if you have to repeatedly re-enter passwords. IE8 solves this with Web Slices. For example, if you want easy access to ESPN's frontpage headlines, go to the ESPN home page and click the green "feeds" button, which is just to the right of the "home" icon on the favorites bar. This will add ESPN to the favorites bar, and now with one click on your new bookmark, you'll see a mini-page of ESPN headlines without needing to change tabs or windows.

Enhanced Tabbed Browsing

I love using multiple tabs in one window, but things can get confusing once you get 5 or 6 opened at once. Enhanced Tabbed Browsing groups related tabs together and color codes them for easy reference. For example, you open the ESPN home page, click on a story about the Atlanta Falcons that opens a new tab on the Falcons home page, then you click on a story about QB Matt Ryan that opens another tab for a Wikipedia article with Ryan's biography. IE8 groups these related tabs into the same color, keeping them separate and a different color from the tab you have open with the weather forecast, making them easy to locate.

IE is usually the last browser I'll use, but IE8 has made some impressive strides.


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