Last night the Microsoft team hosted a small but impactful meeting with some of Toronto, Canada's web industry influencers to showcase the latest Internet Explorer (IE) 8 Beta 2 features before its official release today at 3pm. Pete LePage, Product Manager / Developer Division at Mircosoft, took us on a tour of its main features, and it didn't disappoint. Since IE 8's first beta release in March, new features have been added including:
– 1. While typing a search query, the search suggestions will display related keyphrases, which also will display historical search queries, related feeds, and images. This feature also has the added advantage of allowing you to easily toggle between different sources of the data. For instance, you may want to search Wikipedia only for a specific query.
– 2. Much requested find on page feature will allow the highlighting of entered keyphrases on a web page similar to the Google Toolbar feature.
– 3. While on a web page, a visitor will be able to highlight text. A new accelerator option will take the highlighted text and search maps, translate, or send email. For example, by highlighting an address and with the click of two buttons, you will be able to open the maps tools. The set of accelerators can be extended by installing third-party accelerators.
– 4. Browser tab colours will display groups of related sites.
– 5. Web slice will allow website owners to provide sections of their website or any renderable media for display on other sites. With some modification to the website's CSS class, a web slice will be defined and made visible to a website visitor who will be able to save the slice into their own website. Unlike RSS which requires the creation of an XML file, a web slice is much easier to setup, according to Microsoft. If you want to see this in action, some sites are already using this feature include eBay, Facebook, and some MSN properties.
– 6. The visited website address will be displayed with the actual address bolded. For instance, if you received an email from your bank to update your records and you clicked onto the link, it resolves to tdbank.spammysite.com. IE 8 will darken the colour of the spammysite part of the URL and gray out the sub-domain to show the actual domain in which the site is resolved.
– 7. InPrivate feature, when enabled, will allow you to surf the web without any tracks - it will tell the browser that you don't want any cookies or history data saved. The InPrivate Blocking feature will allow you to stop any data from being passed from one website to another.
– 8. IE 8 is to be more web standards compliant with CSS 2.1. The aim was to make it 100% feature complete.
– 9. Incorporated developers tools will have on page code view, script debugging, and profiler.
– 10. The option to view a website in IE 7 that may be having problems in IE 8. The IE 7 emulator will allow one to switch back and forth.
– 11. If a crash happens while several tabs are open, there will be an option to restore all tabs and they will run as separate processes. Therefore all data in restorable tabs will be saved.
Pete referenced IE 8 as the "browser for web 2.0". However, it looked to me like more than that. Although all the options may be a little intimidating to the not-so-savvy web surfer. This new version of IE 8 has something for everyone, from the not-so-savvy net surfer, to the researcher or savvy web developer. No official date was provide for the final release of IE 8, however, it's important that as a website owner you ask your web team to download the new beta version and test how the browser will interpret your website. This will allow you to make any necessary changes or even enhancements before its full release.