Is Internet Explorer 8 OK to download yet?Posted By : Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on April 9, 2009
Has enough time lapsed to install IE8 confidently; have all the quirks of any new upgrades been eliminated?
This question was answered on April 9, 2009. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
In the on-going race to “build a better browser” many have viewed
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as a laggard in the browser wars.
Mozilla’s Firefox has consistently outperformed Internet Explorer for the
past few years in both performance and features.
Within the tech community, Firefox has been the de facto browser for years
because of all of the ‘add-ons’ that can allow for a wide variety of
customized features and the ability to ‘tweak’ the setting to make it
faster or more flexible.
The reality of the browser scene, however, is that many of the secured
connection sites for banking, stock trading and accessing corporate VPNs
(Virtual Private Networks) are programmed to only work with Internet Explorer.
For this reason, it’s prudent for all Internet users to have both Internet
Explorer and Firefox installed on their computers so they can use either
browser based on the site they are attempting to access.
The good news for those that like Firefox but are forced to use Internet
Explorer is that version 8 of IE has incorporated many of the features
that were previously the domain of Firefox fans.
One of the biggest improvements of IE 8 over IE 7 is in the area of
performance Firefox has been running circles around IE for some time and
Microsoft worked on narrowing the gap significantly Firefox is still
testing as a faster browser, but the difference isn’t as obvious as it was
with IE 7.
IE 8 handles web pages in a different way in order to achieve these faster
speeds, so some older websites may not render properly in IE 8, but
Microsoft made it easy to switch to a ‘compatibility mode’ for either a
specific website or for all websites that you visit.
This means that as you run into websites that don’t render properly in IE
8, you simply add that site to the list of Compatibility View pages
(Tools/Compatibility View Settings) and it will remember to switch in the
Web developers and RSS fans will appreciate the Web Slice feature that
allows monitoring of resources without the normal site visits and to try
to keep up with Firefox, IE 8 has its own Add-ons gallery (www.ieaddons.com).
Another feature of note is the InPrivate Browsing option, which allows you
to surf without saving anything in the browser History This feature
could be bad news for non-technical parents that use the History as a way
to monitor their child’s Internet use (for better protection, I recommend
K9 Webprotection, which is free – www.k9webprotection.com).
Another copycat feature of Firefox is the ‘search suggestions’ that will
try to guess your query as you begin to type characters into the search
box Many Firefox users found this a bit irritating and disabled this
feature when it was introduces, so the same may apply for IE 8 users.
Finally, in an effort to help protect users from malware and phishing
scams, Microsoft stepped up the level of security with the SmartScreen
Filter This feature is designed to block access to websites that have
questionable code or are known phishing scams, but the likely trade-off is
speed as it has to evaluate the code before you can see the site.
One of the really useful features in the SmartScreen Filter is that it
highlights the domain name of the site you are visiting in the address bar
to reduce the chances of being fooled by a clever URL in a phishing scam.
In other words, if the site looks like your bank and the highlighted
portion of the address is not your bank’s domain, you will quickly know
something is ‘phishy’!
As far as waiting to upgrade to IE 8, the only users that I would caution
are those that are accessing special corporate networks or specialized
secured sites In those cases, you will need to check with your system
administrator or owners of the secured sites in order to know if upgrading
to IE 8 will be a problem.
In my case, I am upgrading to IE 8, but will continue to use Firefox as my
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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on April 9, 2009