Brief Test of Internet Explorer 8

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Brief Test of Internet Explorer 8

by MGD King October 13, 2008 8:42 AM

Microsoft has been working on their latest browser, Internet Explorer 8, for some time now. I've been hearing a lot of mixed reviews about it but figured that the best review I could read was one of my own. Since I had a test machine laying around with both FireFox 3 installed as well as Google's Chrome browser, I decided that it would make the perfect test platform. The test box has 1 GB of RAM and a 2Ghz AMD Athlon 2400 processor making it an ideal test subject because I think it will be closer, if not slower, than what your average desktop has for horsepower these days and I believe that will make for a more accurate test.

The Standard

Before we get too deep into this test, let me just say that I use Internet Explorer 7 as my default browser. I know that we can argue all day long about security and stability and why X browser is better than Y browser, but it's my browser of choice. I like the way that text looks in IE. It just looks more smooth and easier to read in IE. It has tabbed browsing which is a huge convenience, and things like Java applets and Flash seem to work better.

However, there are some things in FireFox that I like, like it's speed. It seems like FF renders web pages a lot faster. I also like some of the available plugins for FF. Sure IE has some plugins, but FF always makes sure that it keeps its plugins updated as well as the browser itself, and if there's any conflicts between an update to FF and a plugin, FF lets you know. Pretty handy!

Diving In 

Installing IE8  is pretty straightforward, just download the installer and launch it, follow the prompts, and after the mandatory reboot, you're off and running. I'm not going to give you a detailed look at each screen or what functions are new as all of that stuff has been talked about elsewhere. I just want to tell you what I think about IE8. 

First, it's fast! Web pages load quickly and they look very clean and sharp. I've heard that the speed that pages load is a strong point for Google's Chrome, and while that may be true, in my tests IE8 load significantly faster than Chrome. In fact, FireFox loaded faster than Chrome so either Chrome doesn't like my test machine or I heard wrong about Chrome loading faster.

Second thing I like is the Tab Grouping feature. When you open related tabs that originate from the same webpage, those tabs are colored so that you can easily identify where they are or where they started or what they're about.

I love the automatic crash recovery! This is one feature of FireFox that I've always liked! There's nothing more frustrating than when your browser gets hung up and it has to restart and you've got several browsers open with several tabs in each being used and you lose all that surfing! And it always seems to happen when I'm digging deep for an answer to a question that I just cant' seem to find!! Well you don't have to worry about that anymore because if a tab crashes, then only that tab has to restart and when it does restart, it restarts to where you left it! However, due to the increased stability of IE8, I haven't had a chance to use this feature, but if it works as advertised, it is a very welcomed treat!

As I mentioned before, I like IE7 for its clean appearance of pages, and IE8 looks just as good, if not better! Text still looks smooth, and images are clean and crisp, even if they have been resized; they retain their quality and detail!

Microsoft adopted FireFox's search/URL bar into their Search Suggestions feature, which can be disabled. They have also retooled the Favorites links to incorporate the search as well as the Suggested Sites. It will take me a little time to get used to this feature, but I think it will be a good feature to have as I can see the benefits of it.

What's Not To Like?

I experienced some issues with Java applets and scripts, not show stoppers, just little things and I'm wondering if those kinks will be ironed out when IE8 is offecially released. It was really apparent when I was trying to type this post, and I'm not sure if it was the new browser doing it or if it was BlogEngine's issue. Maybe the developers at BlogEngine will have to take a look?

Another thing that annoyed me was that because it's so strict with CSS standards, many pages don't render correctly now (including this page which I have since fixed) but that's OK because Microsoft, being well aware of this shortfall in their previous browsers, gave us the option to view pages in Compatibility Mode.

I'm still undecided about the Accelerators and Web Slices features. They seem a little anoying to me, especially when I hover over a link and it pops up this little window with a "slice" of the site that is being linked. Hopefully there's a way to disable that feature; I'll have to look around in the preferences. Some my love it, but for now, like I said, I find it annoying.

The Jury's Still Out

I've only been using IE8 for a couple of days now, and because it's on the test machine, I haven't been using it exclusively. I am intrigued by where this is heading as I think Microsoft is taking it seriously. It's like they combined all the popular features in FireFox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari which is a good thing because competition makes for better products. IE8 will not be a FireFox or Chrome killer, but it will make both browsers rethink what they're doing as that's exactly what Microsoft did, and it's going to be a good thing for everyone!

Browser Screen Shots
*So you can see the difference in text.
Google Chrome  FireFox 3.03 
 Google's Chrome  FireFox 3
Internet Explorer 7  Internet Explorer 8 
 Internet Explorer 7  Internet Explorer 8

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