Hi All,

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 is a developer preview for web designers and developers to help prepare their websites for the launch of Internet Explorer 8. Some of the new features designed for developers include a developer toolbar and improved interoperability and compatibility.

Internet Explorer 8 is designed to work in standard mode out of this box. However, Microsoft provides a way for users to browse the web in a way similar to Internet Explorer 7 by using the emulate Internet Explorer 7 button on the chrome. Learn more.

The web at your service

Internet Explorer 8 will take the web experience beyond the page. Internet Explorer 8 introduces a new way to seamlessly experience the best of the web whether you are a web developer writing to standards or a user discovering a new online service. Be one of the first developers to take advantage of improvements in Internet Explorer 8 for your websites and applications. Learn more.

Last week the announcement was made at the MIX conference in Las Vegas, that the IE team made eight announcements about IE8. The most interesting for many people is that a developer beta is now available. Download it here. While anyone can download it, this is a developer beta. We released it at MIX for a good reason: great web experiences start with web developers, and we want to engage developers first. We believe that to build a better browser for the people who use the web, we need to build a better browser for the people who make the web. Non-developers are welcome to try it, but they’ll be more interested in Beta 2.   If you install it, it will write over the previous version, so I suggest you use the VHD instead to try it out without affecting the installed browser:  http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=21EABB90-958F-4B64-B5F1-73D0A413C8EF&displaylang=en.

The rest of our talks and demos focused on seven other areas that appeal to developers:

  1. Our goal is to deliver complete, full CSS 2.1 support in the final IE8 product. IE8 Beta 1 for developers delivers better interoperability with other major browsers, addressing major pain points (e.g. floats and margins) from previous IE releases. We’re not finished – there’s much more to come in Beta 2.
  2. We’ve contributed over 700 test cases to the W3C CSS working group because we think a comprehensive certification test suite for CSS is important for true interoperability and we support the W3C’s effort to deliver such a suite. The CSS spec is good, but contains many ambiguities, and a test suite will help resolve them and benefit web developers and designers. We’re making these available under the BSD License, which is the license that the W3C CSS working group has proposed using for the rest of its test cases. Of course, we will contribute more tests en route to a full test suite, and welcome your feedback on the tests using the W3C's CSS test suite mailing list.
  3. We’ve delivered better scripting performance because we heard from developers that they needed it given how heavily the latest rich web experiences rely on script.
  4. We’ve started delivering support for HTML5 because we understand that developers want to start delivering richer web experiences, with great interoperability, as soon as possible.
  5. We’ve delivered the first installment of great, built-in developer tools. We understand that script, CSS, and layout debugging are crucial today. Again, we’re not finished here – there’s more to come.
  6. We’ve delivered a better way for web services to integrate into the user’s workflow with “Activities.” For example, a user can select text on a web page and map it, blog it, look for it, or just act on it without having to copy it, open a new tab, navigate to  another site, and paste. We made the OpenService Format specification available under the Microsoft Open Specification Promise and the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license.
  7. We’ve delivered a better way for web services to enable their users to keep an eye on interesting parts of a webpage within the browser with “WebSlices.” Developers can make parts of their pages “subscribable” with just a little mark-up, and users can easily subscribe and keep an eye on information (like their social network, an auction, or a sports score) within the browser, even when users are not at the developer’s site. We’ve made the WebSlice Format specification available under the Microsoft Open Specification Promise and is dedicating copyright in the specification to the public domain using the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication. 

The list above is the very short version of what’s in IE8 and does not represent everything that’s in the final product. There’s a lot more. This list details specific investments for developers. As with previous releases, members of the IE team will post to this blog in detail over the coming days, weeks and months. In the meantime, you can find a lot more information at the revamped IE Development Center: http://msdn.microsoft.com/ie.

One theme I hope developers notice here is interoperability. The team understands how big an impact differences between browsers (and previous versions of IE in particular) have had on developers in terms of wasted time, frustration, and (in some cases) limiting the experience that they deliver to users.  We want to deliver a big step forward in real-world interoperability for developers with IE8, and standards are at the core of our approach. This topic deserves a lot more than just this paragraph; expect more soon. 

The beta is available today for Windows Vista (“Gold” and SP1), Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003 SP2, and Windows XP SP2 and SP3, both in 32- and 64-bit versions. We will release the developer beta in German, and Simplified Chinese shortly. We’re interested in reading your feedback in the beta newsgroup and developer forums.

Nick.