Aardvark Computer Repair

Internet Explorer 8

For those who like using Internet Explorer, reviews recommend upgrading to Internet Explorer 8 as long as the computer is fairly new and powerful. Tests find that IE8 is slower than Firefox, Chrome and Opera, and that it uses more system resources. However, this latest version of Internet Explorer comes with excellent features built in, with significant improvements over IE7, including private browsing, context-sensitive right click, color-coded tabs (with related tabs moved together) and improved security and search features. Each tab operates separately so if a site crashes, only that tab closes.

IE8 includes probably the best tabbed browsing implementation available at this moment. Its souped up address and search bars are now on par with Firefox's and Chrome's, both of whose intelligent address bars double as a search box. Unfortunately, in terms of overall speed, IE8 still loads complex web apps noticeably slower than Chrome, Firefox or Safari -- especially on slower systems.

IE8's tabbed browsing: Out-innovates rival browsers

Tabs are important. Microsoft pushes the envelope on this commonly used browsing feature with cleverly thought-out innovations. First up, all tabs are isolated in their own process -- just like in Chrome. This enables you to kill a misbehaving tab without taking the whole browser down. But IE8 knows a few tricks Chrome doesn't. Say you're watching a video or writing an email message in a tab when it crashed; when you reopen the crashed tab, the video continues playing from where it was prior to the crash. In addition, your partially written email is restored. Amazing!

These simple time-savers required significant change in underlying architecture of the browser. While both IE8 and Chrome protect tab processes, only IE8 saves state from crashed tabs so you can pick up where you left off before the tab crashed. Firefox, Safari and Opera all fall hard when a single tab goes down. Still, with IE8 we're just warming up as tabs management is another area where IE8 convincingly out-innovates its rivals.

When you create a new tab in IE8, the resulting page gives you a list of recently closed tabs, in addition to shortcuts for InPrivate mode and Web Slice and Accelerators. You can also set IE8 to show your first home page in a new tab (or a blank page). If you have added several sites (Homepage section under the General tab of Internet Options) to a list of your home pages, clicking on the arrow next to the home button on IE8's Command bar brings up the menu with preset home pages -- which is sort of trimmed-down Favorites for new tabs.

Summary

Overall, Internet Explorer 8 is an impressive package, and while it lacks the raw speed of Chrome, the flashiness of Safari, and the extendibility of Firefox, it does offer reliability and some good features, which could be enough to win it some fans. It's certainly the best version of Internet Explorer in a long time, and Firefox fanboys are going to have to face up to the fact that IE is no longer a dog on which to pour unremitting scorn. That said, there's not yet anything here to make Firefox users want to jump ship.

In that sense, Mozilla and the others have done their job fantastically, forcing Microsoft to up its ante to produce a better featured, faster and more reliable browsing experience for the masses. Microsoft should get some praise at least, simply for paying attention.