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IE8 Beta Released To Public 605

Posted by Soulskill
from the upgrades dept.
Tim writes "English, German, Simplified Chinese, and Japanese versions of Internet Explorer 8 have been released for public beta. New features include accelerators, which provide instant context menu access for a number of common tasks; automatic crash recovery, which prevents a single page's failures from taking down your entire browser; and browser privacy, a feature that didn't make Firefox 3. I'm primarily a Firefox user, and I've been using IE8 at work (MS) for the past few weeks. It's a definite improvement over previous versions, and brings a lot to the table that Firefox requires extensions for. Give it a spin, submit feedback, and help keep all browser makers on their toes by facing each other's competition."
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IE8 Beta Released To Public

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  • by xzvf (924443) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:08AM (#24777415)
    While IE8 doesn't work on my chosen platform, it shows again how open source sparks development in stagnant environments. This product would never have happened without Firefox.
    • by Bashae (1250564) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:25AM (#24777591)

      Yup, I'm wondering why the beta is available in german rather than a language with more speakers, such as spanish. Are they perhaps trying to win back the notoriously large amount of Firefox users in Germany?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:35AM (#24777695)

        I believe that German was chosen over Spanish for the betas because it's the second-most popular spoken language for programmers (at least, it used to be; I'm not too sure anymore). They cover the top two for debuggers out there, and then also include packages for Chinese and Japanese to test the character rendering and what-not.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Swizec (978239)
        If that were the case then it would've been offered in Slovenian ... we use firefox quite extensively.
      • by will_die (586523) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:56AM (#24777919) Homepage
        According to the European and thier language report [europa.eu] German is the 2nd highest known language in the EU at 32% of the population speaking the language. Spanish is at 15% and is 5th.
        For the top 5 it is:
        English 51%
        German 32%
        French 26%
        Italian 16%
        Spanish 15%

        Also by mother tounue German is at 18% and Spanish is at 9%
        • by TheP4st (1164315) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:09AM (#24778065)
          Native Spanish speaking population in the world 330 million
          Native German speaking population in the world 100 million
      • by eggoeater (704775)
        Germany has the largest economy in continental Europe.
      • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:23AM (#24778241) Homepage

        In that case, they would have released it in Klingon. Everyone who I know who speaks even a small amount of Klingon, uses Firefox.

      • by GIL_Dude (850471) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:34AM (#24778357) Homepage
        Actually almost all Microsoft Beta code is available in the same languages at first - English, German, Japanese, and sometimes Simplified Chinese. The thing is that they are trying for coverage of the code to make sure localizations fit dialogs, etc. For example, of the languages that use an English like character set (what is it called, Roman or whatever), German tends to have the longest words / phrases. So by covering German they find out whether all of the localizations are going to fit in the space provided. In a similar way, by covering Japanese (and in this case Simplified Chinese) they are covering localizations in non-Roman character sets. Its really not about the number of users / speakers - its about the coverage of testing on the localizations and getting them to fit properly.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by laejoh (648921)

        It's an insider joke: Die IE8, Die IE8!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by limaxray (1292094)

        German is actually the second most communicated language, right after English. This directly translates to the fact that German is the second most common language on the internet. Granted, most of it is probably porn, but never the less it means more German speaking people would use IE8 than most other language speakers. Why is this? Because Germany has by far one of the strongest economies in the world (3rd behind the US and Japan) and thus can afford greater internet access. Actually, funny thing is

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Aedrin (1175509)
        This has been questioned before. Their simple response was that German provided more unique wording situations that may or may not work in the UI. So it's completely about testing coverage, not winback opportunities.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Chelloveck (14643)

        I'm wondering why the beta is available in german rather than a language with more speakers, such as spanish.

        I have no inside knowledge of IE8, but I've worked on other localized products before. It's quite likely that the German translators were done, but the Spanish translators were still working on it. In other words, it may not have really been a conscious choice by MS to include German but not Spanish, just an artifact of the translators' schedules.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by naylor83 (836780)
      Yep, it's kind of mind-boggling what the Firefox team has accomplished indirectly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by shird (566377)

      What makes you think those people seeking an alternative browser wouldn't have chosen Opera instead? (not open source, and frankly much better than both FF and IE IMHO).

      Yes FF has a bigger market share than Opera, but Opera may have had that share if FF didn't exist, prompting MS to take the same action.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yvan256 (722131)

      Don't attribute all the credits to Firefox alone. Apple has been pushing Safari a lot lately and Opera aren't just sitting around, Opera is improving a lot too.

  • by tomandlu (977230) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:10AM (#24777443)
    I assume yes. Call me naive, but I suspect MS know that they have more to lose by breaking web standards. Basically, they can't get away with that sh*t anymore - at least as far as the web goes. The average user is probably no wiser, but there are enough special interest groups to keep an eye on them in this area.
    • by Khuffie (818093) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:35AM (#24777699) Homepage
      According to Ars Technica [arstechnica.com], sites with proper HTML information will display in standards mode, and sites without will not. There's a button at the bottom that allows you to switch between the two. I have to say, I like IE8. It won't make me switch from Opera, but it's much speedier to use than IE7, and I'll probably find myself using it instead of Firefox whenever I come across a website that doesn't work in Opera. (Which is rare, and whenever that happens and I launch Firefox, it prompts me if I want to update, which gets annoying).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        So IE8 is less broken, less CPU/Memory hungry, and more "standards compliant" than IE7 .... but if it is still slow, power hungry, and breaks pages then it's not for me thank you ...

    • by wwahammy (765566) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:15AM (#24778145)
      It passes the ACID 2 test on its default settings. I'm using it right now in fact (I like the IE RSS reader) and it actually renders Slashdot correctly. IE7 has been a disaster for the last few months on Slashdot. Not sure what changed but it didn't work at all.

      Is it compliant with every single standard Firefox is? No. CSS Selectors I know is an area that still isn't up the standard. It is a lot closer than IE7 is though.
  • by HetMes (1074585) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:11AM (#24777455)
    ..that will definitely be craved by many Slashdot users, and not because of the gift shopping or use of public terminals. Question is how long it will take before Firefox sees its market share diminish because of this feature, and, consequently, how long it will take Firefox to include it in an update.
  • Browser privacy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:16AM (#24777493) Homepage Journal

    I wonder how the browser privacy feature will work regarding external content from sites:

    flash files store preferences outside of explorers' reach.
    java applets get placed outside of the cache.
    movies files play outside of ie.
    pdfs might open outside.
    word documents listed in word recent files list.

    theres many more programs and protocols which would leave tracks.

    people expecting privacy mode to actually keep things private are going to be in for a BIG shock.

    good luck

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Use Opera Portable [kejut.com]. It obliterates (erases AND overwrites) any and all signs of your activity when you exit. And it's had that feature for several years. Perfect for visiting internet cafes or libraries.

      • Re:Browser privacy (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:55AM (#24779513) Journal

        Perfect for visiting internet cafes or libraries.

        Only if you're not particularly paranoid. Let's look at this again:

        It obliterates (erases AND overwrites) any and all signs of your activity when you exit.

        That implies both that you actually exit, and that you're actually running an unmodified version of Opera Portable. It also assumes that the host filesystem is actually overwriting the same blocks... and a few other things.

        It also implies that you haven't already been pwned by something as simple as a keylogger.

        So, better than nothing, but you've got to figure that whatever you do on a public terminal is public knowledge. Any attempt to prevent that is playing an arms race that you will lose.

    • Re:Browser privacy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GeckoAddict (1154537) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:47AM (#24777823)
      I wouldn't count on this new feature to do much of anything... an article [foxnews.com] from FoxNews says the following scary line:

      Although casual users cannot see the previous user's search history, authorities such as the police will be able to access it if necessary.

      Kind of makes it seem like it's still stored somewhere, and while I don't know how the data is stored, I can't imagine it will take too long to figure out how to view the history of others.
      Also interesting is that people at MS apparently nicknamed it 'Porn Mode'.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sootman (158191)

        Also interesting is that people at MS apparently nicknamed it 'Porn Mode'.

        Those crafty Microsoftians, always innovating! [tuaw.com] Only 3 years behind this time... I think that's a new record! *rolls eyes*

  • by Cryophallion (1129715) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:19AM (#24777519)

    and brings a lot to the table that Firefox requires extensions for

    You say that like it is a bad thing. I prefer the use of extensions for my browser, instead of the bloatware that tends to happen. What if I don't care about privacy? I don't need that installed then. I like that I can choose the features I want, instead of having everything thrown in there.

    Also, extensions have a great benefit with regards to updates. they can be updated at any time, and therefore don't have to wait on a new browser update for tweaking things and adding functionality. They also allow me to leave an extension that I don't want to update as is while still being able to update the browser (and possibly its security).

    This is not to say that Firefox is not getting large, or that microsoft is not trying to assist people who don't have the savvy to look for extensions. I'm just saying extensions have a lot of benefits, and can be a very important tool.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by houghi (78078)

      What Firefox could do is add the most used extensions in by default. That way tech savy people can still do whatever they like, while people who do not know how to get extentions, still will be able to have the functionality.

      Best of both worlds. And if bandwith download is an issue for you, then perhaps you should not download Firefox in the first place.

      • by Cryophallion (1129715) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:49AM (#24777841)

        Interesting. Let's take a slightly deeper look, by looking at the most popular add-ons, and see if most non-savvy people would want them:

        1.Ad-block plus - Users might like it, but people running the sites and companies would absolutely hate it. Get ready for a huge backlash on enabling this one in the base package.

        2. DownloadHelper - Again, users may like it, but the people running the video sites would be fuming. As would people who do simple paid-for web tutorials, who would have everyone able to get their stuff extremely easily. Once again, good size backlash. This also has features that may need to be updated more frequently, such as when embedding code changes or something on the popular sites changes.

        3. No-Script - I don't know if this would really help most non-savvy users, as they wouldn't understand why many more popular sites won't work that well, not to mention all the ajax-y things they'd miss.

        4. Download-them-all - May be a good thing to implement (along with Download Status bar, a personal favorite). I'm not sure how many people would use its benefits though, but this one is a serious contender.

        5. Flashgot (See Download Helper)

        6. Firebug - No real use to non-savvy people.

        7. Fast-video Download - See Download Helper

        8. Cooliris - Cool, but no real functionality. Of course, Compiz, Widgets, Apples, etc all live off of cool, but I don't think this should be standard, especially since it is windows only.

        9. IE Tab - Very nice for people who still stubbornly make IE specific sites, but still windows only.

        10. Colorful tabs - cute, but not really functional. Might be a nice option though.

        So, of the top 10, only one could really have a good argument made for it being in the base package. I actually think Mozilla does a pretty good job finding the middle ground of stuff to keep in the base, and stuff to have as extensions, and that helps keep the energy where they think it should be, instead of focusing on little segments.

        I might add that I like extensions also since they can add new functionality before a new version comes out.

        And if bandwith download is an issue for you, then perhaps you should not download Firefox in the first place.

        Isn't Firefox smaller in download size than IE?

    • by mdwh2 (535323) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:39AM (#24777741) Journal

      It's not that extensions are bad, it's just more of a hassle if the functionality is not included as standard.

      It's one reason I can't be bothered to try switching from Opera. Sure, I've downloaded Firefox, but I don't have to time to try to hunt down all the extensions to replicate Opera's standard functionality, and wonder if each extension is the one I want.

      This is even more of an issue if you are trying to persuade a random non-geek user to switch from IE - you can't say "Go to this link", instead you have to say "Go here, then install it, then go here, here and here, and install all those things". For now, Firefox has done well because its standard features are still better than IE (and the extra standard features of Opera do not seem to be known by as many people). But you can't expect an average user to grapple with trying to hunt down extensions, just to replicate what'll be standard behaviour in IE.

      As for bloatware, you need to compare real world filesizes. Last time I checked, Opera was still smaller than Firefox (even without any extensions), though I haven't checked the current sizes.

    • by nmg196 (184961) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:41AM (#24777761)

      > You say that like it is a bad thing.

      It *is* a bad thing. Usually built in features work - extensions in my experience, often don't and can easily be incompatible with each other.

      I've only got a handful of extensions (5) installed and Firefox 3 crashes about 12 times a week according to the logs. According to the same logs, IE has only crashed twice EVER since I built the machine 6 months ago and I use it almost as often (I'm a web developer).

      I think it's the extension-heavy approach which makes Firefox the least stable piece of software I've ever used. I doubt it crashes if you don't install any extensions. More basic features should be built in in my opinion - so you don't need to install an extension to get an extremely rudimentary feature like a close button on each tab.

      • by Cryophallion (1129715) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:58AM (#24777937)

        Out of curiosity, what extensions are you using? I have around 7 or 8 depending on computer, and I've had no crashes. As always, people's problems vary, but I'm curious as to what may be crashing you.

        As for the most popular extensions, such as downloadhelper, firebug, etc, those tend to be pretty darn reliable, which may be due to many bug reports, the open source concept of helping out with fixes, or because people tend to use things that work, but I have had very few problems.

        On the other hand, I've had VERY bad luck with active-X "extensions" in IE, and even when not allowing ActiveX, I crash more with IE.

        On another note, is it the sites you are working on that tend to crash, or basic browsing? Maybe IE is more forgiving of code you are still working on and may have forgotten a curly brace or two?

  • by Cyberurchin (1343229) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:19AM (#24777529)

    > and browser privacy, a feature that didn't make

    Yeah, but the user has to turn it on .... Press the button, enter "InPrivateBrowsing" and your privacy is protected .... Kind of silly. Shouldn't such a feature be activated in the first place? And then, when the application requires the long-term cookies or you want a history, you turn off certain parts of it?

  • by Pvt_Ryan (1102363) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:23AM (#24777581)

    timesonline.co.uk [timesonline.co.uk] Writes:

    Once the setting is chosen, others using the same computer will not be able to see which sites have been accessed. Other browsers have similar functions, but this one is far more prominent. Although casual users cannot see the previous user's search history, authorities such as the police will be able to access it if necessary.

    So basically the data still exists, just people who nothing will not be able to see it, I knew we were wrong in all those security model that try and keep the experts out. It's really Joe "average" Blogs we should have been protecting against all this time.. DOH!!!

    I'll definitely be surrendering Firefox for IE now..

  • indeed. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:28AM (#24777635)

    It's a definite improvement over previous versions, and brings a lot to the table that Firefox requires extensions for.

    That may be true. But given the speed that developments and innovations get put into FF and the general convenience of the plugin system I think I'll stage with the Fox. If there is anything amazingly good and useful you can be sure we'll all have it very soon indeed.

  • Thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:34AM (#24777691) Homepage

    New versions of IE is a Good Thing... Competition is good with something like browsers.

    For the average Joe having features which normally require extensions just be there is probably a good thing. Perhaps Firefox should have the option to enabling a set of officially sanctioned extensions while installing? Bloating is not the solution, but checking the "enable feature X" checkbox beats searching for the actually good ones...

    Private browsing is a two-sided thing. It's a good feature, but sort of pointless if you actually want to store bookmarks of things like your favorite naughty sites... I run two Firefox profiles personally. Unfortunately it's a bit difficult to set up, but I get the best of both worlds.

    • Re:Thoughts (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Chapter80 (926879) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:47AM (#24777817)
      Many will disagree, but I feel the solution to this is to have "distributions", much like the distros of Linux.

      Imagine being able to download from the official Firefox site such distributions as:

      • Firefox Standard
      • Firefox Lite
      • Firefox for developers
      • Firefox with Taco's favorite extensions
      • Firefox for teens
      • etc.
  • Crash recovery... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HappySmileMan (1088123) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:36AM (#24777709)

    Sounds like a great feature, I can't try IE8 since I'm on Linux, but from the descriptions I've read of it, it seems like they're doing something right this time instead of just jacking up the release number.

    I can't believe I'm actually sitting here hoping that Firefox will copy a feature from IE. Good game, Microsoft.

  • Reboot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:48AM (#24777831)
    Do you still have to reboot after installing the IE8 application?
  • by Assmasher (456699) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:00AM (#24777959) Journal

    ...later that the link option "Open in New Window" doesn't appear to function anymore. Well done Microsoft.

  • by Jumperalex (185007) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:02AM (#24777987)

    What I'm really curious to see, and I can only assume it will be there, is if they also include the ability to LOCK-OUT the InPrivate feature. Many corporate (and especially government) IT/legal departments excplicitly WANT your browsing to be tracked. Sure I can go in and delete stuff manually (except when I am not given permissions to access that folder ... which I'm not) but right now all of our standard desktop configurations prevent you from clicking the "clear private data" button.

    So not only are the advertisers (as I've read elsewhere) possibly not going to like this feature, but many corp/gov types won't install it until/unless they can excplicitly prevent its use.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hanners1979 (959741)
      I'd fully expect all of that those kind of settings to be available via Group Policy, you've been able to configure most of IE's major settings across your network that way for some time now.
    • by Jellybob (597204) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:38AM (#24778411) Journal

      Any IT department that *really* wants your browsing history is going to route any traffic on port 80 through a proxy, so they can get reports on what you've been doing from one central location, instead of having to trawl through every user's history. The InPrivate feature isn't going to stop that being possible, so IT departments are fine.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hab136 (30884)

      many corp/gov types won't install it until/unless they can excplicitly prevent its use.

      They don't have to do anything to the desktop - they can just look at their proxy/firewall/router logs. Your choice of browser does nothing to stop corporate tracking/filtering.

  • by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes&xmsnet,nl> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:04AM (#24778005)

    but does it also prevent tabs from hogging resources (e.g. in Firefox, where an applet loading in one tab can lock the entire application).

    • by blueZ3 (744446) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:51AM (#24779451) Homepage

      Yep, that's my one beef with FF.

      I use FF for basic browsing (without many extensions) and I mostly think it's great. Rarely crashes, renders most sites fine, etc.

      But I really, really don't like the apparently single-threadedness. Each tab should be its own thread, IMO, so that when one tab is busy with some random java applet, the others are still getting enough CPU slices to actually be usable.

      Another time you get this behavior is when you open multiple tabs one right after the other. The tab you are viewing slows to a crawl while content is loaded in the other tabs.

      I'm not saying this is better in Opera/IE/Safari/Lynx, but I'd really like to see this fixed.

  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:13AM (#24778119)

    Now if they would only give us some way of running multiple versions of IE side by side. There are still a lot of people using IE6, so I need to test sites against that. But I can't if I upgrade to IE7. And if I upgrade to IE8, I can't test against IE7 or IE6. We need a standalone version of IE6 for web developers to use for website testing. The time limited VM that they provide is a start, but I don't want to boot up an entire VM of Windows just to test one page.

  • by ChrisMP1 (1130781) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:18AM (#24778187)

    Now you can shop for that special gift with confidence knowing your family won't accidentally find out.

    Yeah, that's what "InPrivate Browsing" is gonna be used for.

  • by rs232 (849320) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:28AM (#24778293)
    "New features include .. automatic crash recovery .. and browser privacy, a feature that didn't make Firefox 3"

    What's tools->clear private data .. 'Always clear my private data when I close Firefox'

    and .. why does Firefox prompt me with:

    Firefix - Restore Previous Session

    Your last Firefox session closed unexpectedly. YOu can restore the tabs and windows from your previous sessions, or start a new session if you think the problem was related to a page you were viewing.

    | Restore Session | | Start New Session |
    • by et764 (837202) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @11:20AM (#24779895)

      Your last Firefox session closed unexpectedly. YOu can restore the tabs and windows from your previous sessions, or start a new session if you think the problem was related to a page you were viewing.

      Ahh, you haven't actually seen IE8's automatic crash recovery feature then. Each of the tabs are isolated from each other, so if one tab crashes it doesn't take down the whole browser. The tab just goes away and then pops back up with a message saying IE recovered the tab. It's definitely not the same thing as "Restore Previous Session."

  • The only thing worth asking is this: is the plugin model still based on ActiveX and "security zones".

    If so, IE is still not acceptable for use with any site that is not completely trusted.

  • Hopefully (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Holi (250190) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:20AM (#24779029)

    Hopefully they fixed FTP handling, which the broke horribly in IE 7.
    I pretty much have to log in twice to get ftp to work in windows explorer.

  • Dang (Score:3, Informative)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:21AM (#24779047) Homepage Journal

    When I first went to the download page it looked terrible. I thought they had written an IE only page! Then I fired up Opera and it looked fine.
    Did a refresh on Firefox and it was fine!
    I hate it when Microsoft doesn't give me a reason to crab about them!
    Wait I just went to grab silverlight! Cool they don't support FF3 those bastards!!!!
    Anyway it is worth trying out just to see how well it works.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:22AM (#24779055)

    It doesn't get CSS generated content images [w3.org] right. That's four years old and all other modern browsers can do it. Bah.

  • by GuyverDH (232921) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:29AM (#24779167)

    Installed it.

    Kept google as search engine.
    declined accelerators
    declined web screening

    turned off view of favorites, menu bar.

    click favorite button that appears next to tabs, crash...

    repeat the experiment...

    uninstalled IE8 3 minutes after installing...

Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.

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