Although we happily use a combination of Chrome and Firefox in the office, a new version of Internet Explorer is still big news. Of course, it’s been in open beta for the last year so none of its new improvements and features are breaking news – especially as most of these changes will sound awfully familiar to anyone who has been using Chrome, Firefox, Opera or Safari in the last few months. That said, if you’re in an office where Internet Explorer is the only authorised browser, then there’s quite a lot to be excited about. Well, maybe not “excited about”, but it should make your day slightly less arduous at any rate.
So, what kind of features are in Internet Explorer 8? Well there’s a lot under the bonnet to begin with – better security and malware protection mainly. External sources have estimated that IE8 catches two to four times as many malware attacks as other browsers, which is a really impressive step forward for a browser that has always been seen as vulnerable. Another, more tangibly testable, feature is Microsoft’s claim that the new Internet Explorer is the fastest browser on the market. Of course there are two caveats to that – firstly that we’re talking the difference of a fraction of a second, and secondly that with all the major players working on new versions of their browser this lead may well be short lived. It’s still good to know though, and if your life is so hectic that every nanosecond counts you may want to use it to get your fix of lolcats and webcomics.
More obvious improvements can be found in the InPrivate surfing mode (which won’t keep a browser history or cookies) and the neat things Microsoft are doing with the ‘accelerators’ feature. This is essentially a context-sensitive menu that will provide options like “find on a map” or “translate text”. It’s only saving you a couple of seconds worth of copy-paste-click time, but it’s the kind of feature that made us go “ooh” when we found them in Chrome, so it’s only fair to applaud Microsoft for their attempt at fine-tuning the experience.
With the browser holding around a 72% market share, is this going to win many lapsed Internet Explorers back into Microsoft’s warm embrace? Probably not, but it’s good to see that those who have only ever known a life of Explorer will get a feel for the kind of quality features that have made many look to Apple, Mozilla, Google and Opera for their browsing experience.