Is Internet Explorer 8 OK to download yet?

Question

Has enough time lapsed to install IE8 confidently; have all the quirks of any new upgrades been eliminated?

- Gary

Answer

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

future.

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

primary browser…

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on April 9, 2009