Windows 7 Journal Episode 6: Internet Explorer 8

Though I have already stated in a previous entry that I am not fund of Internet Explorer as a browser, I felt that since it comes bundled with Windows 7, it may be worth reviewing. Though Internet Explorer 8 does come bundled with Windows 7, it is available right now for Windows Vista and XP as an open beta. The reason I’m reviewing IE 8 is that there are some features that come integrated with the new OS that differentiated the experience from previous operating systens. So here’s what I have to say about Microsoft’s latest browser.

IE 8

When you first open Internet Explorer 8, the first thing you’ll notice is that the interface has been tweaked. It’s definitely cleaner than IE 7, but still feels cluttered compared to Chrome. Note that this is what the browser looks like without any add-ons or toolbars, so expect the interface to look more cluttered once you start installing more add-ons. What I consider to be the most important part of IE 8 is it’s integration with Windows 7. For example: right-clicking the IE icon will bring up a list of frequently visited pages, while the download barhas also been integrated into the taskbar for convenience. For more information, look up Episode 4.

There are also some new and interesting features in IE 8 that should be noteworthy. The first ones are the accelarators. These accelators act more like shortcuts to certain actions you usually do on the web. When you right click on a certain object, say a text, a bunch of accelators will available such as searching the word on Wikipedia, or, if it’s a place, search it on Google Maps. It’s a helpful feature that does have potential, though it would be nice if more accelators could extend to many more services.

Another noteworthy feature are the Web Slices. Web Slices act as widgets integrated into your browser that can be used to quickly view things such as news, weather, and even eBay auctions. Viewing web slices like the NY Times takes a while to load, but it does deliver in the end with a look that’s easy on the eye. My only gripe about this feature is that the web slices are predetermined widgets, meaning you will have to do with whatever is offered on Microsoft’s Gallery site. If only they were more like the Web Clips of Safari (for Mac only) where one can take any part of web page and turn it into a viewable widget.

Performance wise, it was pretty fast, at first. After continuous usage loading became a bit slower. Also, it seems like the outdated web engine IE 8 runs on is not fully optimized, often lagging and having a hard time rendering objects. I tried writing this entry on IE 8, but because the browser didn’t render the page properly, I couldn’t write the blog properly on a broken text box. In the end I just reverted back to Chrome and the entry page loaded smoothly.

So this is what I think of Internet Explorer 8. First of all, it’s definitely an upgrade from IE 7. So if you’re a long time user of IE, then IE will surely be for you, especially with the introduction of Web Slices and Accelators. However, there was a reason why I left IE for Firefox, then ultimately Safari and Chrome. It’s that IE was and still does feel cluttered and inconvenient. I found it difficult to bare with so many forced toolbars and a slow rendering speed that switching to a better browswer was truly the best way to go. Let’s not forget that IE is still a bit behind technology. It took a long time until IE adopted tab browsing, and IE 8 is still running under the same web engine that ran IE 4, making it difficult to cope with Web 2.o standards. Though IE 8 is a significant improvement, it’s still not enough to make me move away from Chrome, which I still believe is one of the best browsers out there.

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~ by Ian on May 4, 2009.

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