Windows Internet Explorer
) is the next version of Microsoft's
Windows Internet Explorer web browser,
succeeding Internet Explorer 7. Beta 1, targeted
for web designers and developers, was released
to the general public on March 5, 2008.
Microsoft released Beta 2, targeted for all
consumers, on August 27, 2008.
A public RC (release candidate) was released
January 26, 2009, and the final release is
scheduled to follow it later in the year.
On January 5, 2009, a tool was provided by
Microsoft to block the automatic install of
Internet Explorer 8 via Windows Update.
According to Microsoft, security, ease of
use, and improvements in RSS, Cascading Style
Sheets, and Ajax support are its priorities for
Internet Explorer 8.
IE8 has been in development since at least
In February 2008, Microsoft sent out private
invitations for IE8 Beta 1,
and on March 5, 2008, released Beta 1 to the
although with a focus on web developers.
Windows Internet Explorer 8 - Overview
The release launched with a Windows
Internet Explorer 8 Readiness Toolkit
website promoting IE8 white papers, related
software tools, and new features in addition to
download links to the Beta.
The Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) added new
sections detailing new IE8 technology.
Major press focused on a controversy about
Version Targeting, and two new features then
called WebSlice and Activities.
The readiness toolkit was promoted as something
"developers can exploit to make Internet
Explorer 8 'light up'."
On August 27, 2008, Microsoft made IE8 Beta 2
PC World noted various Beta 2 features such as
InPrivate mode, tab isolation and colour coding,
and improved standards and compatibility
compared to Internet Explorer 7.
Two name changes included Activities to
Accelerators, and the IE7
Phishing filter renamed Safety Filter
in the first Beta to
SmartScreen, both accompanied by
incremental technical changes as well.
By August 2008 the new feature called
InPrivate had taken the spotlight.
Windows Internet Explorer 8
A component of Microsoft Windows
Windows Server 2008 R2
Also available for
||Windows XP SP2 or
Windows Server 2003 SP2
Windows Server 2008
||Internet Explorer 7
The first beta release of IE8, which was
demonstrated at the MIX08 conference, contained
many new features, including WebSlices
In the second beta release, Activities
were renamed to Accelerators.
Some of the features and changes for the Beta
2 compared to Beta 1.
- Delete Browsing History
- Search Suggestions
- User Preference Protection
- Caret Browsing
- Accelerators (previously known as
- Web Slices (previously known as
- Suggested Sites
- Tab Color Grouping
- Automatic Crash Recovery
- SmartScreen Filter (Known as
Safety Filter in Beta 1)
- Tab isolation (tabs spread over separate
operating system processes)
- Inline AutoComplete
- The option to delete files and settings
stored by addons or ActiveX controls.
- CSS Expressions are no longer supported
in Internet Explorer 8 Standards mode
This feature is described by Microsoft as a
tool to suggest websites, which is done by the
browser sending information to Microsoft which
keeps the information and IP Address for a short
Suggested Sites is off by default and the user
has to turn it on manually when desired.
A new security mode called InPrivate debuted
with Beta 2, which consists of three main
features: InPrivate Browsing, InPrivate
Blocking, and InPrivate Subscription.
Like similar privacy protection modes in Safari
and Google Chrome, InPrivate Browsing has been
described as a "porn mode" in various news
Informationweek mentioned it as a "'Stealth'
Gregg Keizer of Computerworld says Private
Blocking "notifies users of third-party content
that can track browsing history", and that
InPrivate Subscription allows "subscribing to
lists of sites to block".
When enabled, IE8 will not save browsing and
searching history, cookies, form data and
passwords; it also will automatically clear the
Accelerators are a form of selection-based
search which allow a user to invoke an
online service from any other page using only
Actions such as selecting the text or other
objects will give users access to the usable
Accelerator services (such as blogging with the
selected text, or viewing a map of a selected
geographical location), which can then be
invoked with the selected object. According to
Microsoft, Accelerators eliminate the need to
copy and paste content between web pages.
IE8 specifies an XML-based encoding which allows
a web application or web service to be invoked
as an Accelerator service. How the service will
be invoked and for what categories of content it
will show up is specified in the XML file.
Similarities have been drawn between
Accelerators and the controversial Smart tags,
feature experimented with in the IE 6 Beta but
withdrawn after criticism (though later included
in MS Office).
Web Slices are snippets of the entire page
that a user can subscribe to.
Web Slices will be kept updated by the browser
automatically, and can be viewed directly from
the Favorites bar, complete with graphics and
visuals. Developers can mark parts of the pages
as Web Slices, using the
hSlice microformat. Web Slices have
been compared to Active Desktop, introduced in
Internet Explorer 4 in 1997.
Microsoft donated the specification to the
public domain under the Creative Commons Public
Domain Dedication. It is also covered by the
Microsoft Open Specification Promise.
The address bar features domain highlighting
for added security so that the top-level domain
is shown in black whereas the other parts of the
URL are grayed out. Domain highlighting cannot
be turned off by users or web sites. Other
features of the address bar include support for
pasting multi-line URLs and an improved model
for inserting the selection caret, and selecting
words, or entire URLs in the Address bar. The
inline autocomplete feature has been dropped
from Internet Explorer 8.
SmartScreen Filter is an extension of
Internet Explorer 7's phishing filter. If a user
visits a site which has been labeled as an
impostor or harmful, then Internet Explorer 8
will show a screen prompting that the site is
reported harmful and shouldn't be visited. From
there, the user can either visit his or her
homepage, visit the previous site, or continue
to the unsafe page.
This feature can be disabled using Group Policy.
For developers, IE8 includes tools that allow
Other new features in IE8 include a
Favorites Bar, which can now host content
such as Web Slices, web feeds as well as
documents, in addition to website links.
A crash recovery mechanism has been
incorporated; if the browser crashes, web pages
being viewed may be recovered, at the user's
discretion, when the browser is restarted.
Full-page zoom now reflows the text to remove
the appearance of horizontal scrollbars on
Internet Explorer 8 includes performance
improvements across the HTML parser, CSS engine,
mark-up tree manipulation as well as the JScript
runtime and the associated garbage collector.
Circular Memory leaks, which resulted earlier
due to inconsistent handling of JScript objects
and DOM objects, have been alleviated.
For better security and stability, IE8 uses the
Loosely Coupled Internet Explorer
(LCIE) architecture and runs the browser
frame and tabs in separate processes. Glitches
and hangs don't bring down the entire browser.
It also leads to higher performance and
scalability. Permissions for ActiveX controls
have been made more granular - instead of
enabling or disabling them globally, they can
now be allowed on a per-site basis.
IE8 improves rendering of content authored to
various web standards (like HTML, CSS and
Such changes might cause it to break
compatibility as its behaviour differs
significantly from that of IE7.
In order to maintain backwards compatibility,
sites can opt-into IE7-like handling of content
by inserting a special meta element into the web
page, that triggers the "IE7 standards mode" in
the browser, using:
While the behaviour of the browser is
unchanged from Internet Explorer 7 in "IE7
Standards Mode", in standards mode (the default
IE8 rendering mode), IE8 supports Data: URIs,
HTML object fallback, the
CSS generated content and the
display: table CSS rule, in addition to
fixing a lot of CSS and HTML parsing bugs.
As a result, IE8 Beta 1 passes the Acid2 test in
IE8 standards mode (now called "standards
Also, the proprietary hasLayout property will be
eliminated when using IE8 in IE8 standards mode.
Microsoft has stated that Internet Explorer 8
will improve only some of the standards being
tested by Acid3.
Compliance with the CSS 2.1 specification was
a stated goal in Internet Explorer 8 by
Microsoft, even including an attempt to support
some CSS3 features. IE8 Beta 1 also partially
supports CSS 2.1 Paged media (including the
@page CSS rule and the
first page selectors). In addition, it also supports the DOM:
Storage, Cross Document Messaging (XDM) and the
Selectors APIs. IE8 also adds cross-domain
communication via the
object, that exposes a programming model similar
to XMLHttpRequest. IE8 features an enhanced and
standardized DOM, that brings it in line with
implementations in other browsers. Attributes
and properties in DOM objects are now handled
differently, and the behavior of the
removeAttribute modifiers have been
changed to match the behavior of other browsers.
Internet Explorer 8 also supports the Accessible
Rich Internet Applications(ARIA) specification
for enhanced accessibility in Ajax-based rich
Internet Explorer 8 was promoted by Microsoft
as having stricter adherence to W3C described
web standards than Internet Explorer 7. As a
result, as in every IE version before it, some
percentage of web pages coded to the behaviour
of the older versions would break in IE8. This
would have been a repetition of the situation
with IE7, which (while having fixed a lot of
bugs from IE6) broke pages that used the IE6
bugs to work around its non-compliance. This was
especially a problem for offline HTML documents,
which may not be updatable (e.g. stored on a
read-only medium, such as a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM).
To avoid this situation, Microsoft proposed
Version Targeting whereby a page could be
authored to a specific version of a browser
declaration either as a meta element or in the
In order to maintain backwards compatibility,
sites can opt-into IE7-like handling of content
by inserting a specially created meta element
into the web page, that triggers the
"Compatibility mode" in the browser, using:
<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=EmulateIE7" />
A browser with a newer version than what the
page has been coded for would emulate the
behavior of the older version so that the
assumptions the page made about the browser's
behavior holds true.
Microsoft proposed that a page with a doctype
that triggers standards mode (or almost
standards mode) in IE7 would, by default,
trigger IE7-like behavior, called "standards
mode" (now called "strict mode") in IE8 and
future versions of IE. The new features of IE8,
along with the breaking changes, could be
enabled by explicitly using the
declaration to trigger what Microsoft called the
"IE8 standards mode" (now called "standards
mode"). Microsoft's reasoning was that by making
the choice to opt for standards compliance
explicit, pages that do not want the behavior
will not trigger the IE8 standards mode.
IE8 standards mode could also be triggered by
the HTML5 doctype. Doctypes that trigger quirks
mode in IE7 will continue to do so in IE8.
The proposal was met with much controversy.
Jeremy Keith, writing for A List Apart, felt
that tying pages to browser versions would
greatly hinder progressive development as
championed by web standards.
Håkon Wium Lie, Chief Technology Officer of
Opera Software, authors of the Opera web
browser, stated in an article for The Register
that the move was an example of monopolistic
behaviour due to Microsoft's dominating position
in the web browser and operating system markets.
Peter Bright of Ars Technica claimed that the
idea of using a meta tag to pick a specific
rendering mode fundamentally misses the point of
standards-based development, but positioned the
issue as one of idealism versus pragmatism in
web development, noting that not all of the Web
is actively maintained, and that, "demanding
that web developers update sites to ensure they
continue to work properly in any future browser
version is probably too much to ask."
March 3, 2008, Dean Hachamovitch
announced that Microsoft had changed their
minds, opting instead to make the "IE8 standards
mode" (now called "standards mode") the default
in IE8 (i.e., pages with doctypes that trigger
standards mode in IE7 as well as newer doctypes).
Version targeting would still be present but now
would be used to opt out of progressive
development and use the IE7 standards mode (now
called "strict mode"). While this move was
praised by many of the same people who had
criticized Microsoft's original choice,
including Microsoft's competitors,
the subsequent release of Internet Explorer 8
Beta 1 revealed that many web sites do not work
in this new standards mode.
The result for IE 8 Beta 1 was that it could
render three modes: "Quirks," "Strict," and
"Standard." When there is an old DOCTYPE or when
there is no DOCTYPE, IE renders it like IE5
would (quirks mode). When a special meta element
or its corresponding HTTP header is included in
a web page, IE8 will render that page like IE7
would (strict mode). In all other cases, IE8
renders pages with its own engine (standard
mode). Users can switch between the three modes
with a few clicks.
Five weeks after the release of IE 8 Beta 2
in August 2008, Beta 1's market share had grown
from 0.05% to 0.61%, according to Net
A review of IE 8 Beta 2 by PC World summarized
its thoughts on IE8 Beta 2 adoption:
"While it likely won't convince many
Firefox users to jump ship, Internet
Explorer 8 Beta 2 may be worth considering
for people who have not yet solidified their
IE 8 Beta 2 launches execution threads for
each tab. It will use more memory if it is
available than IE7 or Mozilla Firefox 3, which
has led to some criticism.
Internet Explorer 8 Release
||March 5, 2008
||August 27, 2008
||December 10, 2008
||January 26, 2009
The final product will be made after the
IE8 RC1 requires at least:
- 233MHz processor or higher
- Super VGA (800 x 600) or
higher-resolution monitor with 256 colors.
- Microsoft Mouse, Microsoft IntelliMouse,
or compatible pointing device.
- RAM: 64MB for Windows XP/Server 2003
(32-bit) and 512MB for Windows Vista