I have been running Internet Explorer 8 (release candidate 1) for about a month, and am now running the final release version. It definitely includes some noteworthy upgrades, and some noteworthy incompatibilities. Should you upgrade? Right now, I would say “no.”
I’ll start out with the major “con” before getting into the “pros.”
- Many web sites simply do not work in Internet Explorer 8’s new rendering engine (the thing that displays the page once it’s been downloaded to your computer). While IE8 does include a “compatibility mode” to use the older Internet Explorer 7 rendering engine, I suspect most users will not know to turn this on when they encounter problems.
- I frequently have had IE fail to open links in new tabs properly, or to even open web sites whose addresses I type in to a new tab. So I either need to restart the browser or open a different browser.
Here are some of the pros.
- Highlighting the domain of the site you are on
This is something I noticed right away, which I both really appreciate and think that the majority of users won’t even notice. When you visit any web site, the real domain name of the site you are on is shown in black. The rest of the URL is shown in gray. So for instance,if you are at your paypal site, and logged in, in the URL bar at the top, you will see it like this:
making it very clear that you are on PayPal.com.
Compare that to this, for example,
Clearly, this is not PayPal.com and hopefully less security-savvy users may recognize this, but I have my doubts.
Accelerators automate certain tasks, but as far as I can tell, they’re basically a way to right-click to submit information to another website or form. Kind of cool? Yes. Radically innovative? Not in my opinion. My prediction is that most users won’t even notice these, let alone use them.
- “InPrivate Browsing.” Microsoft says
Browse the web without saving your history with Internet Explorer 8’s InPrivate Browsing. Now you can shop for that special gift with confidence knowing your family won’t accidentally find out or use a shared computer without leaving a trace.
- Web Slices
Keep up with changes to the sites you care about most. Add a Web Slice and you won’t have to go back to the same website again and again for updates on news, stock quotes, online auctions, weather, or even sports scores.
Essentially, this allows your browser to snag pieces of a web page you’re interested in. Again, kind of cool, and I predict, again, that most people won’t use this. Similar functionality is available from many web sites via RSS feeds, and the majority of web users still aren’t using RSS.
- Search Suggestions
Essentially autocomplete on the search box. Nothing radically new here either. Google does this for you now.
- SmartScreen Filter
This one is good. It makes it very apparent when you have stumbled across a suspicious site, or one that has been compromised to host malicious code.
- Automatic Crash Recovery
Great idea. Here’s a better one: How about coding the browser in such a way so that it doesn’t crash in the first place?