Internet Explorer 8 has a bunch of new features. Some are slight tweaks to its previous functions, others are playing catch-up with Opera and Firefox functions, and some are raising the bar for the other web browsers.
First, IE8 has a new Compatibility function, accessed via the Compatibility icon on the toolbar — to display web sites that were designed fo other web browsers — if the text or images aren’t lined up right, click this button (which is next to the Refresh button). You can even set specific web sites to always be shown in the compatibility mode (check again later — the site probably will get updated to handle IE8 also).
Tab bars — first in Opera, then Firefox and then IE7.
Now, IE8 takes it to the next levl with Tab Groups, relating new tabs that are opened from clicks in other tabs.
The new Find On Web Page function is much more user friendly than the older dialog search box. Is it as good as Firefox’s? Hummmm, I think I like it better. Like Firefox, IE8’s implementation is a real-time jump, as you type, to the first time the letters you type are found. The bar goes up, too, as IE8 tells you how many times it found those letters — and highlights them in the remainder of the web page.
The new Address Bar, where you type the URL of the web site you want to visit, now functions like Firefox’s. As you type, it suggests choices from your previous IE8 web surfing history, your bookmarks/Favorites and RSS Feeds.
Reopen Closed Tabs – first available as an add-on for Firefox (or, at least, that’s where I first noticed it and really learned to use it), then built ito Firefox 3, now it’s a new feature of IE8! Long overdue. It lets you reopen a tab you just closed. You find the function by right-clicking on an open Tab. (Now, if Microsoft would change Windows so I could do that with a Window I just closed…).
Automatic crash recovery — if IE8 crashes because of an add-on or a web site, only that particular tab crashes. The tab closes and then reopens again to the same web site (won’t this create a loop of crashes?)
InPrivate Browsing — designed for those times when you want your browsing to be secret, whether you’re using someone else’s computer (e.g. an Internet café) or shopping for a special present.
The new SmartScreen Filter is designed to help protect you against accidentally installing malware when you’re browsing the web. You can enable or disable this at any time. Based on Microsoft’s description of the SmartScreen Filter’s operation, this seems to be a competing feature to McAfee SiteAdvisor.
Unfortunately, the bad guys know how to game the system — to put up a clean site until it’s rated, and then add the malware. There’s nothing like a false "OK" rating…
So far, I like what I’ve seen in Internet Explorer 8. I used IE7 for little more than checking my web pages to make sure that they looked OK in IE7.
I think I’ll use IE 8 a lot more than that… What do you think?