IE8 Beta 1 has come out : 8 notable new features

So it looks like IE8 has finally came out. Even though it doesn’t have everything I imagined, there are some nice changes.

                                                                           

So here they are:

1. "Activities" – You can picture Activities as highlighted text extensions. These extensions can do a variety of things you highlight with the text. Like if you highlight an address on a blog, you can preview a map of that exact location right there instantly. Without going to another page or anything. Or translate foreign language. Find a definition. There will be a ton of extensions to choose from as development continues. Most are from Windows Live and MSN right now, but there’s some from Facebook, StumbleUpon, and Ebay. Here’s a whole list of them : http://ie.microsoft.com/activities/en-en/Default.aspx                             

                                                

The surprising thing is, is that Activities has been here for a long time already. If you’ve installed Live Toolbar on IE7 before, you know what I mean. It’s very similar to this technology :

                                                                     

It’s real name is called Extraction Entity. At least according to Live Labs : http://labs.live.com/Entity+Extraction.aspx. But it looks like Microsoft has finally made it available to more people by including it in their browser with a better friendlier name. Kind of nice, isn’t it?

2. "Web Slices" : I would have named it more like "mini-RSS" or "visual feeds" but Microsoft has decided to call it Web Slices. Think of "Web Slices" as visual RSS feeds. Website makers can make a portion of their website a sort of mini RSS feed that you can see on the go instantly. Like Facebook updates, weather status, eBay auctions, etc. More Web Slices will come later as soon as more prominent websites show up.

                                                                  

3. Acid2 Test – Yay. IE8 actually passes it. Something Firefox 2 can’t. Here’s what it should look like :

                           

Though there are some issues at the moment. It has something to do with cross-site navigation. Whatever it is, it should be fixed soon.

4. Safety Filter – some boost up from the Phishing Filter in IE7.

                                                                   

5. Crash Recovery – About time. If your browser crashes for some reason, the tabs you had should come back on.

                                                                        

6. Favorites bar – Another extension menu bar on the browser. I was kind of disappointed with this one. I liked the more streamlined look of IE7. Adding a Favorites bar takes up some space, even if it is faster to reach Web Slices. But could they just add Web Slices to the menu of the star button, along with the feeds and history section of the left pane? That would have been better. Hopefully there’s a way to get the bar off. It just seems to make the browser look fatter.

                                                             

7. Website domain URL darkened – Microsoft has made IE7 darken the main domain name of the address bar, so you’re always sure what site you’re on. Pretty nifty actually.

                                                                                

8. Search provider icon in search box – Now you can see the icon of your favorite search provider in your search box. Like this:

                                                            

That’s about it. I hope Microsoft continues to work harder on making IE8 more awesome. Though I still think they need to add a lot more features. But so far, it’s way more compelling than the release for IE7.

You can download it right here, but I suggest you ONLY do so if you’re a DEVELOPER or a TECHNICAL person. This is their first BETA and Microsoft usually has awful first betas. You’re more than less likely to face several bugs and issues, so it’s not worth installing just to ‘give it a try’. Wait until it’s more finalized to make your decision. If you think it’s bad now, or hear bad stuff about it, you should really wait until it’s finalized before basing your opinions on the product. So if you don’t mind, download it.

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