Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 RC1 Released

Internet Explorer's creator Microsoft officially announced the public release of Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate 1 on Monday. The “Release Candidate” label suggests that the product is virtually ready to be rolled out on the market, as the company representatives stated that there is a big number of small improvements compared to the Beta 2 release of the web browser, but there are also some new features that aim to deliver a different user experience.

Esthetically, the RC1 and the Beta 2 versions of the browser are very similar, but people who will make the switch from Internet Explorer 7 will notice several changes regarding the user interface and the overall functionality of the new version.

One of the most important features that come with Internet Explorer RC1 is the InPrivate Filter. In a nutshell, this feature is quite similar to the previous InPrivate Blocking, as it will not allow third party website and services to track the user’s search and browsing patterns, both of which are invaluable information for advertisement companies.

Along with the InPrivate Filter, another sought-after feature that was first implemented in IE 8 Beta 2 is an updated version of InPrivate Browsing, similar to Google Chrome’s Incognito window.

The InPrivate Browsing option is particularly useful when users don’t want to leave tracks of their browsing activity, as this feature makes sure that no browsing information, including URL history, cookies, cache and account information is stored while using Internet Explorer in this mode.

An all-new feature is the clickjacking protection, which is the first ever to be implemented in a web browser. Clickjacking happens when a website containing a login box is covered with an identical frame through which hackers can steal the account information typed into it.

Performance wise, it seems that the new iteration of the Internet Explorer browser narrows the gap between previous versions and its main competitors, Firefox, Chrome and Opera.

Even so, it seems that Java-based websites are still loading slower on IE 8 RC1 compared to Firefox and Chrome, but it is worth mentioning that start-up times are much faster than ever before.

Internet Explorer 8 RC1 has also implemented the “sandbox” concept, the same used in Google Chrome. Therefore, each opened tab has its own corresponding process, which means that if a browsing tab stops responding, it will not affect the other ones.

The RC1 version of Internet Explorer 8 is available for download through Microsoft’s website. The company is offering 32-bit and 64-bit versions for Vista and only a 32-bit version for Windows XP.

Currently, there is no version available for Windows 7, probably because this version of the IE is already bundled with the public beta of the operating system. Microsoft has not yet announced the official release date of the final version of Internet Explorer 8.


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