The second pre-release version of Internet Explorer 8, the next version of Microsoft's web browser is now available for download.

You can download it and find out more about the new features here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/beta/

The design of Internet Explorer 8 was based on a lot of research on how people really browse the web. One of the clear findings was that the bulk of user activity outside of web pages involved tabs and “navigation”.  And that's one of the goals of IE8 to make everyday browsing more productive. The second area of focus was Internet safety and the third was providing a platform that enables developers to build great web pages and online services.

You can get a quick overview with this video:

Some of the new features include:

  • Smart Address Bar. In addition to matching URLs in the user’s site history, the Smart Address Bar in Internet Explorer 8 matches what a user types in the Address Bar with titles in the history as well as content in their favourites and feeds, making it easier to locate sites the user wants to visit.
  • Enhanced Find On Page. Find On Page functionality has been enhanced to improve how users search for text on Web pages.
  • Find On Page. Find On Page now appears as a toolbar activated by pressing Ctrl-F or choosing Find On Page from the Edit menu or Instant Search Box. The toolbar appears below the user’s tab so it doesn’t obscure any of the text on the page.
  • Result count. The enhanced Find On Page functionality shows the user how many places the search text appears on the page.
  • Result highlighting. The enhanced Find On Page functionality highlights all places on the page where the search text appears so users can locate them at a glance.
  • Redesigned New Tab Page. The New Tab Page in Internet Explorer 8 has been redesigned to allow the user to perform common tasks by clicking links on the New Tab Page.
  • Tab Groups. When one tab is opened from another, the new tab is placed next to the originating tab, and both are marked with a coloured tab, so users can quickly discern which tabs have related content.
  • Reopen last browsing session. Internet Explorer 8 enables users to reopen their last browsing session from the most recently closed instance of Internet Explorer, which is useful if the user accidentally closes the browser.
  • Accelerators. Accelerators, which were called Activities in beta 1, give users ready access to the online services they care about most from any page they visit, and developers gain an easy way to extend the reach of their online services. They allow users to browse faster by allowing them to launch online services without having to leave the current Web page.
  • Web Slices. Developers can mark parts of Web pages as Web Slices and enable users to monitor information they rely on as they move about the Web. With a click in the Favourites bar, users see rich Web Slice visuals and developers establish a valuable end-user connection.
  • Enhanced Search Box. The Search Box in Internet Explorer 8 is more helpful, making it easier for users to find content of interest and increasing the odds that search results will be relevant. As users type a search term, they can see real-time search suggestions, including images, from their chosen search provider. In addition, the Search Box now presents results from the user’s own Favourites and browsing history.

In addition IE8 makes it easier for IT managers to deploy and administer, provides a safer browsing experience, and supports the development of new online applications and services.

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 is available for 32- and 64-bit editions of Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Server 2008. 

More Resources:

  • You can find out more and download the beta here.
  • You can find a full list of the new features here.
  • You can read more at the Internet Explorer blog.