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Dec 18

First Look – Microsoft quietly released the first update to its IE8 beta 2 to its closest partners last week. This new version is marked as “Release Candidate 1” and is expected to be the final IE8 pre-release update Microsoft intends to make available to the public sometime in the first quarter of 2009. TG Daily was able to take the browser for a first spin: We noticed that Microsoft made significant progress in some areas, but is standing still others. RC1, which is believed to be the first feature-complete version of the browser, will not match the JavaScript performance of all other major browsers.
The first update to Microsoft’s browser since IE 8 beta 2 was released to select Microsoft partners for testing last Wednesday. The company indicated in recent blog posts that it was delaying the browser for some time and that it may have a good reason to do so. A final public and feature-complete pre-release would become available in Q1 2009 and, of course, we were curious what may have canceled a 2008 release of the browser.

Will Microsoft shelve the browser engine? Will Microsoft follow through with its promise to make its browser much more compliant with web standards than previous versions were? We were lucky enough to get an early look at this final pre-release and now have a good idea how IE8 will look like. But, since this software is a partner release, it is more than likely that Microsoft will make one or the other change based on feedback until a public RC1 will surface. However, significant changes are rather unlikely.

Let’s cut to the chase right away.

Overview

The new version brings enhancements in private browsing, accessibility, overall reliability and speed. RC1 reaches a significant development milestone towards a browser that can compete on closer footing with Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera in terms of features. However, web standards support (especially CSS 3) and performance are still far behind the competition.

We tested the 32-bit version for Windows XP (64 bit and Vista versions were also made available), which carries the build number 8.0.6001.18343, which is up from the IE8 beta 2 build 8.0.6001.18241.

Privacy advocates will like the fact that add-ons are now disabled in InPrivate Browsing mode, a new “InPrivate Blocking” button has been added to turn the feature on and off, and group policies related to InPrivate Browsing mode have been added for administrative purposes.

According to the IE8 developer blog, accessibility has been improved as well for those with limited vision or mobility. We will spend more time on those features further down in this article. Also, minor changes were made to the favorites bar and compatibility view, and web developers will notice slight modifications to the developer tools, the Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK) and AJAX (URL handling).
In terms of ease of use, new wizards have been added to import favorites from Firefox and Safari and to turn the suggested site feature on or off.

Performance and standards

Whether Microsoft likes it or not, speed and compatibility are the two most critical disciplines browser are measured against these days.

The company’s Internet Explorer has never been a speed monster, but even Microsoft has shown a motivation to tighten up the browser’s engine to squeeze more performance out of the aging code base. Back in March of this year, when IE8 beta 1 was released, Microsoft conceded that IE8 was still behind its rivals, but it was about twice as fast as IE7 in some benchmarks – and it was gaining ground on Firefox 3 beta 5 back then. IE8 beta 2 brought more performance again, but the competition – Firefox, Safari and Opera – have made even more dramatic speed gains in the mean time and widened the gap. And we aren’t even talking about Google’s Chrome, which is generally believed to be leading the pack at this time. So, can we expect progress with IE8 RC1 as well?

Our first impression is that IE8 has matured quite a bit, it feels more robust and seems to load pages slightly faster than IE8 beta 2. In support of this impression, the memory footprint of 70 MB with five open tabs is now less than the 80 MB in IE8 beta 2.

Measuring the actual performance of browsers is highly subjective and virtually impossible in real world conditions, due to the countless variables affecting load times and variables that are beyond our control. In addition to that, different hardware configurations will yield dramatically different results in benchmarks that are typically viewed as performance evaluation tools today. The published results have to be taken with a grain of salt and the actual numbers are almost meaningless. What counts is the gap between different browsers: The gap tends to be comparable across different platforms in terms of percentages.

Out of curiosity, we ran Google’s V8 JavaScript benchmark (yes, we know, it is a Chrome-biased benchmark, but the performance difference between browsers is nevertheless interesting.) Using a dual-core Pentium 2.8 GHz system, the new build of IE8 scored 27.1 on our test system. By comparison, Firefox 3.1 beta 2 scored 104 (higher is better) and Google Chrome scored a whopping 1401.

IE8 clearly comes in behind in this test, with a significant margin. The result got worse for Microsoft with a more advanced system – an Intel Core 2 Quad-based computer – in absolute numbers: IE8 RC1 scored 105, Firefox 3.1 beta 2 265 and Chrome 1.0 2991.

Notice the difference between Firefox and IE. IE consistently came in behind Firefox in our test runs and the more capable the hardware platform was the greater the distance (in absolute numbers) was. The strong performance of Chrome in a Google benchmark should be no surprise. The V8 benchmark suite covers Raytracing, Encryption/Decryption, OS Kernel simulation, constraint solving, and classic JavaScript benchmarks.

We also ran SunSpider, the open source JavaScript Benchmark of the WebKit project on Chrome, Firefox and IE 8. Chrome finished all test commands in 1860.0 ms, Firefox took 2475.0 ms and IE took 11,013.2 ms (less is better). Better hardware yielded better results in this benchmark as well: The quad-core system ran the test in 1046.1 ms for Chrome, 2184.5 ms for Firefox and 7489.3 ms for IE8.

Again, the actual numbers are not what we are looking at here. What stands out is that IE came in last again and the performance gap is significant.

Another disappointment is IE8’s Acid3 score. While Microsoft promised to make the browser more compatible with web standards, it trails every other browser in this major standards compatibility test by a substantial margin.

IE8 RC1 scores 12/100 (the same as IE8 beta 2), which clearly will disappoint web designers and developers that heavily use CSS. In comparison, Firefox 3.1 beta 2, officially released on December 8, scores 93/100, Firefox 3.0.4 scores 71/100, Google Chrome 1.0 comes in at 79/100 and Safari 3.1 scores 75/100. It is worth noting that Safari 4 beta as well as Opera 10 Alpha already scored 100/100.

For sake of reference, IE 7 scores 12/100 just like IE 8. To be fair, that number increases to 21/100 in IE8, if the window is left open for an extended period of time (several minutes).

While the browser did not crash during preliminary testing, this build is not meant for widespread public use and still contains several bugs. According to Microsoft, Facebook compatibility is still a known issue with the browser. Currently, the function “Add friend to list” causes IE8 to hang.

Noteworthy new features

It is apparent that all browser makers are much more active these days in rolling out new versions of their software. Mozilla and Opera recently released the second beta of Firefox 3.1 and the first alpha of Opera 10, respectively. Both browsers offer fresh new features paired with rendering platforms as well as much improved JavaScript engines that allow web applications to run more effectively.

Google has been particularly busy, having stamped out 15 Chrome updates in three months until the company suddenly proclaimed Chrome a finished 1.0 product yesterday, a move TG Daily deemed controversial, to say the least. So, what about key features in IE8?

Besides security features, Microsoft is emphasizing “accessibility”. JP Gonzalez-Castellan, accessibility program manager for IE8, said that Microsoft’s goal is to make IE8 “the most accessible browser possible.” He believes that the accessibility improvements in IE8 will benefit “one hundred percent” of users, stressing that improving the accessibility also improves the usability of the product.

He illustrated it vividly with public places like airports that have added wheelchair ramps after the Americans with Disabilities Act had been passed. Other passengers have soon started using ramps since it was easier to roll suitcases using the rams than picking it up over the ledge. “In much the same way,” he said, “when you make software more accessible, everybody wins.”

IE8 will support platform-oriented features like ARIA, IAccessibleEx and WinEvents, all of which will improve the accessibility of the browser. End-users may appreciate new accessibility-related features in the user interface areas, like caret browsing, a friendlier Find on Page feature, adaptive zoom and high DPI that scales the entire page content and several minor tweaks to how the browser behaves and reacts to user input.

Caret browsing: The power of keyboard shortcuts

Power users may especially enjoy keyboard shortcuts that will let them perform common mouse tasks with a keyboard, which will be a much faster or more efficient way to interact with software. A new feature dubbed “caret browsing,” turned on and off by hitting F7, ditches the mouse entirely in favor of the keyboard and a cursor that moves within a web page in the same fashion as the cursor within the text of a Word document. Users can select and copy text down to a single character by holding the SHIFT key and pressing the arrow keys to highlight the text, in addition to selecting and copying non-text content like tables or images.

Caret browsing is especially useful in combination with context-sensitive menus also accessible on the keyboard. For example, you may select a piece of text or a single word, hit the context menu key on the keyboard positioned between the right ALT and right CTRL keys) to bring up the contextual menu with a list of Accelerators and choose to translate the selected text into another language, show a map, look up the term in online dictionaries, etc.

Enhanced Find feature

IE8 finally tweaks the Find on Page feature with a dedicated toolbar positioned below your tabs, instead of a floating dialog that obscures page content. The feature highlights search results on a page with a yellow background as soon as you start typing and shows the number of matches found in the Find on Page toolbar.

Adaptive Zoom and high DPI support

Other areas where regular users will benefit from accessibility features for low mobility and low vision users are the new Adaptive Zoom and high DPI support (which is actually an OS feature). The two work together to enable the browser to zoom all content in a page, not only text. Bitmap graphics are enlarged accordingly, as well as text and vector UI elements of the operating system that appear on pages, like drop-down lists, buttons, boxes, etc. Current versions of Opera and Firefox also have adaptive zoom features; Apple’s Safari lacks adaptive zoom support.

Adaptive Zoom will not only help low vision users, but many others who squint their eyes when viewing pages on high-resolution monitors with high resolution settings. When a page is scaled on high DPI monitors, it not only looks bigger, but nicer since the software redraws the user interface elements with more pixels, resulting in a much more attractive display of content. Also, IE8 adjusts all elements on a page while zooming to avoid displaying horizontal scroll bars.

All three features are not limited to the RC1, but work in the current beta 2 as well. Besides the browser’s security improvements these three features may actually turn into the more noteworthy improvements and enjoy similar exposure such as tab-groups, for example. Microsoft still highlights web slices and activities, proprietary IE8 features designed to make information gathering about certain content more convenient.

Conclusion

With the new build of IE8, the Microsoft browser development team is well on the road for the release of a public RC1 in Q1 2009. The updated features address widespread privacy concerns that surfaced with IE 6 and 7 and show a certain willingness to narrow the gap in web standards support to rival browsers.

But, clearly, the improvements shown by IE8 may not be enough in some areas; in others, Microsoft may end up in a dead end.

IE8 RC1 cannot compete with Firefox, Chrome and Opera in terms of CSS 3 compatibility. But at least CSS 2.1 support has arrived, and new accessibility features will be heralded by those in need. We also believe that Microsoft has made a reasonable decision to single out privacy and security features with a separate toolbar icon.

If the RC1 seen by us essentially represents what the IE8 final will be, then Microsoft may not be able to slow the pace of IE market share decline. We are keeping our fingers crossed that there is still time to oil IE8’s rendering and JavaScript engines: As of now Firefox, Safari and Opera (and Chrome) play in a different league and expose IE8 as an old concept that is overrun by a new generation of browsers.

source

Download Link:
Download Windows Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate 1 for Windows Vista 32-bit
Download Windows Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate 1 for Windows Vista 64-bit
Download Windows Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate 1 for Windows 2003 and XP 32-bit
Download Windows Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate 1 for Windows 2003 and XP 64-bit
Download Windows Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate 1 Readme file

written by Pinewood Design \\ tags: , , , , , , ,

Aug 29

Software developer Microsoft has announced the release of the second beta version of its upcoming Internet Explorer 8, it has been reported.

The browser, which will include the highly-publicised inPrivate mode which allows the user to keep details of internet sessions private, is available now, although no formal release date has been set for the final product.

It has been noted that other upgrades present in the beta version include a better address bar that can predict the requested url through previous history and an improvement of the tabbed browsing function.

Technology website vnunet.com also noted that the latest release was attempting to become more standards-compliant.

It said: “Microsoft says it passes the Acid2 browser test, will include CSS 2.1 and supports W3C’s HTML 5 Draft DOM Storage standard and the Web API Working Group’s Selectors API.”

USA Today reported that the inPrivate function was designed to hide the purchase of a gift for a partner, or for “other reasons” that they “don’t want them to find out”.

IE8 Beta 2: Great new features, old annoyances

The question most people will have is – how does it stack up to the best in the market – Firefox, Safari and, in some instances, Opera? Will it be faster than the painfully slow IE7, is it easier and more secure to use? There is one simple answer: Yes.

Speed

This author found that IE8 loads about three times as fast as IE7 and loads pages about twice as fast as its predecessor. The performance gains are also significant when compared to IE8.

It is obvious that Microsoft, just like Mozilla, has made huge progress to accelerate the browser engine, while the company surprisingly forgets to highlight this progress in its browser feature list. Subjectively, it appears that Firefox 3 has lost its page load time advantage.

Useful new features

First, there is finally a “Find on this Page” feature you can actually use, since it is placed in its own field below the address bar. Searching web pages for certain words or phrases is also enhanced through search result highlighting and search result count.

Just like Firefox, IE8 can also store a browsing session and reopen it when the software is restarted.

The “Smart Address Bar, which offers a neatly structured, instant search feature when you are entering a URL, is also new. Similar to the Firefox idea, the Address options are very organized, easy to read and in most cases actually useful – especially when you are looking for a certain section on a website and simply don’t know its sub-level address.

The best new feature, hands down, is Tab grouping. At least I tend to have countless tabs open and once you exceed ten or more tabs, it gets confusing and you have to start reorganizing those tabs. IE8 does that for you in a color-coded fashion. The colors themselves are a matter of taste, but as long as you are opening tabs through the context menu (right mouse click), a new tab will appear in the color of the originating website. This feature is a perfect example how simple ideas can have a huge impact.

Tabs now also come with “crash recovery”, which means that the content in a tabbed window is automatically restored and reloaded – and any information the user may have already entered on the page (such as when writing an e-mail or filling out a form) is restored.

Under the hood, there are new features you won’t see in the user interface – which, however, are milestones for Microsoft. First, the browser is much closer to common web standards than any other version before (Microsoft says it passes the Acid2 browser test), CSS 2.1 will be implemented in the final version of the browser, there are Document object model (DOM) and HTML 4.01 improvements and there is support for W3C’s HTML 5 Draft DOM Storage standard and the Web API Working Group’s Selectors API.

Useless new features      

Microsoft would not be Microsoft if there wasn’t an overload of features that in fact make the browser (12.7 MB download) appear bulky. Each user may have a different opinion what these features may be, but at least in this version it seems to be Microsoft’s Web Slices and Accelerators (renamed from “Activities”). On one side, Microsoft promises to stay within general HTML guidelines and on the other the company cannot resist to create proprietary features that are not part of any standard and are not supported by any other browser. Is it just me or does this sound strange?

Both Web Slices (a way to subscribe to certain content) and Accelerators (quick access to maps, for example) are obviously a try to standardize certain features and convince web developers and other browser developers to adopt this functionality. To me, both features are nice and may be certainly useful in some cases, but will they improve your browsing experience in general? No. In some scenarios, IE8 feels too heavy. The browser interface clearly needs another workout to trim some of the fat it has gained over the years.   


Security

IE8’s new “over the shoulder privacy” features were revealed two days ago. “InPrivate” appears to be a new word under which Microsoft will combine a range of security configuration options, with the first ones being InPrivate Browsing, InPrivate Blocking and InPrivate Subscriptions. All three add another layer of flexibility and complexity, which may be welcomed by some and may confuse others.

12 additional big security improvements include per-user and per-site ActiveX rules, domain warnings and highlighting, enhancements to IE7’s phishing filter and data execution prevention:


Old Microsoft habits

The installation process of the browser remains unacceptable and one big annoyance. Even on my relatively speedy PC, the installation process took 28 minutes from beginning to end. For 17 minutes, the PC was unusable, since the PC needs to be restarted and updates need to be reconfigured.

Why is it that Firefox can be downloaded and installed on the go without the need for a restart of the PC and Microsoft takes my PC hostage for 17 minutes for a simple browser update? I may be picky here, but iE8 is not particularly convenient (and transparent) to install.    

You can download IE8 Beta 2 here.

Ready to Try Out IE8? Better Read This First

1) You might not be able to uninstall beta

Users of Windows XP who have Service Pack 3 installed may find it impossible to uninstall the new beta once the deed is done. It gets a little dicey, but here’s the deal: If you installed SP3 after installing IE8 beta 1, your beta 2 installation will become permanent. Microsoft says you’ll be able to upgrade as new versions come out, but you’ll never be able to remove any of them from your system.

There is a slightly complicated procedure you can do to avoid this: Uninstall SP3, then uninstall IE8 beta 1. Once you’ve done that, re-install SP3. At that point, you’ll be able to do a clean install of IE8 beta 2 without having the lockdown issue.

2) You might not be able to upgrade to IE8 beta 2 directly.

Users of Windows Vista who already have IE8 beta 1 will have to take several steps before getting the new beta 2. First, you’ll need to manually uninstall beta 1. Second, you have to go here and manually install a system update. Then, you can move forward with the IE8 install — though it will actually prompt you to accept a couple other system updates when you begin. Make sure you check the “Install the Latest Updates” option in the Setup Wizard.

3) You might not be able to use some of your existing programs.

IE8 beta 2 is completely incompatible with both Visual Studio .Net version 7 and Windows Live Mail. Either program will fail to operate correctly and will likely just crash once IE8 beta 2 is installed. Microsoft says there is no workaround as of yet. You also won’t be able to view on-demand movies in NetFlix, use the Google Toolbar, or use some versions of the Skype add-on.

All right… got all that? If you’re still ready to roll, you can download Internet Explorer beta 2 here. Also, be sure to check out more expanded coverage of the product and its ups and downs below.

written by Pinewood Design \\ tags: , , , ,

Aug 21

Mary Jo Foley on ZDNet is blogging about speculation that Internet Explorer 8 will include a special privacy mode, uncomfortably, but understandably, nicknamed “porn mode.” Doubtless Microsoft will have a more boring name ready by the time it is announced.

The idea of this mode is that no traces of activity—history, cache, cookies, form field entries, etc,—are left behind. This feature has been in Safari for many years.

Foley asked Microsoft if the feature would be in the supposedly-soon-to-be-released beta 2 of Internet Explorer 8. All they would say is that they would talk more about privacy at the right time.

The countdown to Internet Explorer (IE) 8 Beta 2 is on. Microsoft said the consumer-focused IE 8 test release would be available in August. There are just 11 days left….

No doubt, Microsoft has been holding back some features that will be added to the new test build. Istartedsomething’s Long Zheng blogged on August 20 about one such possibility: Private browsing, a k a “porn mode.” Private browsing is a feature that the Mozilla team ended up pulling from Firefox 3 (and 3.1), but one that Safari has had since 2005.

Private browsing allows those browsing the Web to erase their online tracks in history, cache and personal information entered and shared by a user on a Web page.

I asked Microsoft whether Zheng was right, and all a spokeswoman would say is the company will have more to say about privacy as IE 8 evolves.

There have been a couple of IE Blog posts that offer hints that Microsoft may be going beyond the pure “private browsing” mode.

From a June 24, 2008 IE Blog post on trustworthy browsing:

“(T)there’s more to online privacy than cookies, as cookies are only one implementation of content that can disclose information to websites. In some discussions, people have also described IE7’s Phishing Filter as a privacy feature because it helps protect users from sharing information. The larger challenge here is notifying users clearly about what sites they’re disclosing information to and enabling them to control that disclosure if they choose. As we talk more about privacy, we will broaden the discussion to include additional protections from sharing information that the browser can offer users.”

Some IE users have been saying for years that they want somthing more granular than the current browser option to delete all cookies or all temporary Internet files. From way back in 2006 in the comments on the IE Blog, poster Nick Davis said:

“I *hate* clearing my history, because lots of history is useful. What’s that new supplier’s site I went to last week and forgot to bookmark, etc. I hate losing all that info, just to cover up the fact that I, ahem, bought a gift for a loved one.

“Selective history. That’s what we need. Or a way to selectively delete browsing history after the fact. I mean, we’re only over 10 years into this whole web browser thing, and we have basically the same feature since v1.”

Any guesses as to what Microsoft might deliver on the privacy front with the forthcoming IE 8 Beta 2 and/or final release (slated to be available before the end of 2008)?

written by Pinewood Design \\ tags: , , , ,

Jan 11

BONO, George Clooney and Jay-Z have all appeared in a spoof video for departing Microsoft Boss Bill Gates. Gates is hanging up his keyboard this summer after creating one of the biggest and most powerful companies in the world.

The stars appeared in the video as the Microsoft Founder decided to have the last laugh on his colleagues with a spoof video of his last day on the job.

The video called Bill’s Last Day illustrated how the 53-year-old might spend his last full day at Microsoft, and his relentless pursuit of a new “day job.”

In the footage Gates is seen working out in the gym with his trainer played by Matthew McConaughey.

Then rapping in the sound studio to Jay-Z, interrupting Bono’s U2 concert to vie for a spot in the band and beseeching Steven Spielberg for a movie gig.

George Clooney’s then refuses to play Gates in a film.

The six minute video was showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show 2008 on Monday during his 11th and last keynote speech.

It has now been viewed over 300,000 hits on the video website You Tube.

Gates, who is set to leave the company in July, explained it will be the first time since he was 17 years old he wouldn’t be working full-time at the company he created.

 

Goodbye, Bill Gates !!!!!

written by Pinewood Design \\ tags: , , , , , , ,

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