The first release candidate for Internet Explorer 8 has been released to the web. You can download it from Internet Explorer 8: Worldwide sites. The release candidate adds protection against malicious Web attacks and tweaks to a feature that lets users browse the Internet privately. Reviewers are reporting improvements in speed and reliability.

Here are some of the features I wanted to call out. For more information about the list of features that are part of Internet Explorer 8, see Windows Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate 1 Fact Sheet. You can get more information for developers at Internet Explorer Developer Center and for an overview of the new features for developers at Internet Explorer 8 Readiness Toolkit.

Features for Developers

Several features have been enhanced for Web developers:

  • Full support for the CSS 2.1 specification. There should be very few changes between RC1 and the final release but will include necessary adjustments as identified by the developing community. For more information, see CSS 2.1 Improvements in Internet Explorer 8.
  • Advancements for what will become the standards of tomorrow, such as W3C’s HTML 5 Draft DOM Storage standard, the Web Applications Working Group’s Selectors API and ECMAScript 3.1 endorsed syntax.
  • Fixes many cross-browser inconsistencies; for example, get/set/remove Attribute implementation is now interoperable with other browsers, and developers will experience significant performance gains in asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) design patterns.
  • JScript also now provides native JSON support.

Web developers should use this version to check your sites for compatibility and to take advantage of features:

  • Accelerators. Accelerators 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. Users can identify Web Slices with updates, and with a click in the Favorites bar, users see rich Web Slice visuals with access back to the Web page.
  • Enhanced Instant Search Box.The enhanced Instant 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 enhanced Instant Search Box presents results from the user’s own Favorites and browsing history. In RC1, it now includes a quick pick menu at the bottom of the Search Suggestions, enabling users to toggle back and forth between their favorite search providers’ Search Suggestions with a simple mouse click. Web Developers can use search suggestions to improve a user's experience with your search provider.

Internet Explorer 8 protects against clickjacking. Clickjacking is where a hackers could a transparent filter on sites so they can view what information a user is accessing and what activities that user is doing. The security feature allows Web-site content owners to put a tag in a page header that will help detect and prevent clickjacking.

Developer Tools are built into Internet Explorer 8. For a walkthrough of the features, see Referencing the Developer Tools Interface Commands.

You can learn more at the How Do I Take Advantage of New Features in Internet Explorer 8 and Internet Explorer 8 Readiness Toolkit.

Key Features for Users

A new feature added to Internet Explorer 8 is called InPrivate. InPrivate helps to protect users’ data and privacy from being retained locally on the PC they are using and by third parties that might be in a position to track their online activities. New in RC1 is the ability to use either of the features (InPrivate Blocking or InPrivate Filtering) independently. InPrivate has two settings:

  • InPrivate Browsing, which lets users browse the Web without creating a record of where they've been or enabling cookies,
  • InPrivate Blocking, which has been renamed in RC1 to InPrivate Filtering.

InPrivate Filtering lets users set a threshold for how many times third-party content appears on sites they are browsing. IUsers can then view information on how those third-party content owners are collecting information about browsing habits. That threshold can be set between three times and 30 times.

Improvement for the release candidate, the Smart Address Bar has been reorganized to more efficiently match what a user types in the Address Bar with titles in the history as well as content in their favorites without duplicates

Compatibility

Some Web sites that are designed for older browsers may not display correctly in Internet Explorer 8, which by default renders content in the most standards-compliant way possible. Internet Explorer 8 has a Compatibility View button that displays those pages as they were designed to be viewed, providing people with an easy way to fix display problems such as out-of-place menus, images and text. As a developer, you can insure your site works as expected:

To insure your site is compatible:

  1. Navigate to your website in Internet Explorer 8.
  2. If pages look different from how they did in Internet Explorer 7 or don't work the same way, enable Compatibility View. See Compatibility for more information.
  3. If turning on Compatibility View makes your pages render and function as they do in Internet Explorer 7, then add the Emulate IE7 meta tag.
  4. Otherwise, verify that your User Agent String detection recognizes Internet Explorer 8 by using the procedure outlined in the Versioning and Internet Explorer Modes.
  5. If your pages are still broken, debug your website by using our testing tools.  

In addition, compatibility with Internet Explorer 7 has been enhanced in the release candidate. Users of Internet Explorer 8 can choose to receive a list of major sites that are best viewed in Compatibility View. When navigating to a site on the list, Internet Explorer 8 will automatically display the site in Compatibility View without requiring the user to press the Compatibility View button.

For More Information

For more information about the features, see Internet Explorer 8 Fact Sheet. For information about upgrading from the beta version, see Upgrading to Internet Explorer Release Candidate on the IE team blog. You can provide feedback too.

For more information about how to incoporate key features into your products, see How Do I Take Advantage of the New Features in Internet Explorer 8 for a good overiew. In addition: