Microsoft Unveils Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate

ie8-acceleratorsIf you’re not participating in the Windows 7 beta, you can still kick the tires of Microsoft’s newest web browser. Internet Explorer 8, which is included in Windows 7, can be had for XP, Vista or Windows Server as well. Actually, the beta version came out last year, but the software has now graduated to the RC, or Release Candidate stage.

Microsoft appears to be straddling the fine line between simplicity and feature fullness with IE8. The browser does offer more customization and add-ons than prior, but not exactly like Firefox does with the vast array of extensions it has available. Microsoft took a customization approach with “accelerators” and “web slices”; these are definitely useful, but still limited by comparison. That could change over time, but for now it’s pretty slim pickins. I do see some useful accelerators: one for Facebook, a StumbleUpon add-on and even one for Digg. The catalog is available at http://www.ieaddons.com if you want to browse it or add features to IE8.

The flipside is the simplicity factor. IE8 looks very similar to IE7, so there’s no major learning curve to get surfing on the web. Even with the familiar look there are subtle features that we’ve already seen in Firefox and Chrome. Private browsing is in there so you don’t have to worry about the boss catching you buying WOW gold on your lunch hour. The search bar is beefed up and offers useful suggestions as well, plus Microsoft is claiming the new JavaScript engine is faster than prior versions. We’ll have to do some testing on that claim of course, but my own impressions are that IE8 is indeed generally faster that its predecessors.

Want to grab the new browser? You can grab it directly from Microsoft to give it a spin.

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