Thursday, January 22, 2009

Internet Explorer 8 RC 1

A week ago I sat down with Dean Hachamovitch, General Manger of the IE team at Microsoft and we talked about Internet Explorer 8 RC 1. In the video below, he outlines what he believes are the compelling reason to use Internet Explorer 8.

The first reason he mentioned was this is now a stable platform. Developers, he said, should build for IE8 RC 1 knowing that their sites won't have to change when the final release arrives this summer.

The second reason, he said, is that IE 8 won't crash, or crash as often. Dean and his team looked at the Beta 2 data and made a series of improvements. Of course, IE 8 includes "in tab crashing," meaning the other IE tabs will remain up and running if one page suffers a problem. Unlike Firefox, which has session restore and can restore the browser and all its tabs after a crash, the IE browser keeps running and only the one tab displaying that problematic page will crash and restore. Pretty cool, eh?

Microsoft accomplished this by isolating the code for each tab, more or less treating each as a mini browser, something that Firefox does not do. To prove his point, Dean showed me a video that crashed a tab. What was very cool was that the streaming video continued in the background while the tab restored itself so that when the page came up, the video continued where it had left off.

There's also compatibility within IE 8. If a page doesn't render right in IE 8, you have the option of displaying it in IE 7. Weird, but it makes sense.

There are some changes in In Private, Microsoft's "porn browsing mode" where the history won't be stored for sites visited. What I saw involved a visual change in the browser so the user can't be fooled into In Private mode without noticing something's changed.

Finally, Dean suggests looking for some surprises hidden within the Favorites bar.

Throughout our conversation Dean hinted that Microsoft would like to see organizations build on the Internet Explorer platform custom applications for their employees or customers to use. This sounds a lot like the idea behind Google releasing Chrome as an environment for its Google Gadgets. Perhaps Microsoft is heading in the same direction.

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