MS releases IE 8 public beta

March 6, 2008 // 7:46 a.m.

Tags: #beta #ie #ie-8 #internet-explorer #microsoft

So, you read that the latest version of Internet Explorer will default to rendering pages in a 'strict compliance' mode, but you can't quite bring yourself to believe that Microsoft would do such a thing? Now's your chance to find out, with the official public beta of IE 8.

Before you get all excited, be aware that the install procedure will require a reboot – no surprises there. The new build does have one or two tricks up its sleeve during the process, however.

Perhaps the most interesting feature you'll come across during the installation procedure is toward the end: should you have a copy of Firefox installed, IE will offer to import all your bookmarks, RSS feeds, and so forth. Where the new build differs from the old is with the final tick box in the import wizard – IE 8 will actually check your Firefox extension too. Now, it'd be too much to hope that it would just pull them across and work invisibly, not to mention the fact that the Mozilla Foundation would probably need to have strong words if that were the case. Instead, the installer links you to a web page containing a selection of add-ons that Microsoft think are a good match for what you already have installed. Sadly, the most popular Firefox add-ons – Adblock Plus and NoScript – aren't available. In fact, when I tried it out the only option it gave me was a version of the Greasemonkey add-on. Still, it shows where Microsoft is hoping to go with this new version.

Being a beta, the new browser isn't exactly the most stable thing in the universe: I've already encountered issues rendering pages containing large tables, and had a couple of crashes. Ignoring the bugs – which I would hope Microsoft will have worked out by the time the final release rolls around – I'm pleasantly surprised by how nice the browser is to use.

Not nice enough to make me ditch Firefox, of course. But nice.

Tempted to give the new build a whirl, or are you going to wait for the final release? Let us know via the forums.

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