What's Coming in Internet Explorer 8 for IT Professionals?

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What's Coming in Internet Explorer 8 for IT Professionals?

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Yesterday at Tech Ed IT Pro 2008 in Orlando we announced some of the enhancements we’re making in Internet Explorer 8 to help IT Professionals deploy and manage IE8 within their organization. We wanted to share those with the IT Pros on our blog.

Over the last year we’ve surveyed over 2000 IT Professionals to understand their concerns and priorities for deploying and managing desktops and software within their organization. We learned that IT Pros have a lot of things to worry about - more than 30 different concerns came up. However, some topics arose considerably more frequently than others. Here are the top ones:

  • Deployment and implementation of new technology
  • Managing updates and upgrades
  • Application compatibility
  • Security of data, network and systems

Internet Explorer 7 already has a pretty strong deployment and management story. For IE7 IT Pros are able to:

  • Generate customized builds that include company’s settings and branding by using Internet Explorer Administration Kit(IEAK)
  • Centrally manage browser settings through group policy
  • Use common deployment infrastructures like Windows Update, Windows Server Update Services, Systems Management Server and Active Directory

In addition to deployment and management support, IE 7 introduced a number of features intended to help your users browse more safely and hence protect your corporate data, network and systems:

  • Phishing Filter
  • ActiveX Opt-in
  • Extended Validation Certificates

IE7 did a lot to address the concerns of the IT Professionals but we felt there were some places we could improve. Yesterday, we announced some of our new features:

Slipstream Support in Internet Explorer 8

We got consistent feedback from customers that deploying Internet Explorer 7 as part of Windows XP is hard. Many IT Pros want to update their Windows XP images to contain IE7 by default, so IE7 gets installed as part of the OS install. To do that the IT Pros need to boot their existing images of Windows XP, install IE7 and then recapture the image. This process roughly takes 2 hours per image.

With Internet Explorer 8 and Windows Vista you’ll be able to “Slipstream” Internet Explorer 8 into a Vista image so that when you deploy Vista it already contains Internet Explorer 8. To slipstream IE8 only takes 10-15 minute per image. You’ll also be able to slipstream IE8 cumulative updates so that you are shipping the most up to date and secure image.

Look out for a forthcoming post to learn more about Slipstreaming IE8.

Application Compatibility and Internet Explorer 8

You have seen a lot of discussion on this blog about our decision to ship Internet Explorer 8 with standards mode switched on by default. Today, not all sites are built to conform to web standards so we’ve given end users and developers control over how sites display in IE8.

How about IT Professionals? For one, we're adding new events to the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) that help you detect and resolve potential issues between IE8 and your internal applications and web sites. For another, we're providing Group Policy settings that help you control, with great granularity, those settings that most impact compatibility. Lastly, we're looking at how to intelligently solve this problem for intranets - providing the greatest application and web site compatibility while still maintaining our core tenets of security, performance, and reliability.

Security in Internet Explorer 8

The Internet has changed the way that people live and work. People are spending more and more time on the web but this growth in web usage also attracted people who have malicious intent. From phishing scams to sites which install malware, the web can be a dangerous place to be. Who hasn’t had to jump across the keyboard/mouse to stop a friend or loved one visiting a phishing site or installing a piece of suspicious software? What happens when that person doesn’t have their tech-savvy friend watching over their shoulder?

Did you know that more than $3 billion has been lost in Phishing scams? The browser – and particularly in IE8 - plays an important role in helping protect users against a range of attacks, from social attacks like phishing to browser based exploits.

Rather than cover those features here, we’ve already posted information about some of the ways we’re helping your users browse more safely:

There’s more to come around security in later blog postings.

Updates to the IEAK

The internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK) enables IT Pros to customize IE for their company’s needs. You might be familiar with this tool since it was available for IE6 and IE7. In IE8, IEAK is getting a facelift. We have fixed a number of bugs and added some enhancements to improve the performance of IEAK. IEAK8 will support custom IE8 builds for new platforms: Vista and Windows Server 2008 and new IE8 features like Activities and Web Slices.

Stay tuned for a follow-up blog post that will contain more detail about IEAK8.

Wrap Up

We plan to include all of the above mentioned features in our Beta 2 release which is planned for August 2008. As always when developing software, features can get cut or postponed if we find bugs that affect ship quality but right now we’re on track to have these features for Beta 2.

IE7 was a great browser to deploy and manage in an enterprise or business environment. With IE8, we’re doubling down on that investment to make sure that we have the best browser to deploy and manage in an enterprise environment.

Jane Maliouta - IE Program Manager
James Pratt - IE Product Manager

Edit: Added third bullet point to the Security in Internet Explorer 8 section

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