A couple of days ago, Microsoft has launched open beta version of the Internet Explorer 8, also known as IE8. This should be quite an important release, which actually should have been IE7, because of the complete CSS 2.1 implementation, for which all webdesigners around the world have asked, screamed and cried for quite a number of years.
The final release of the IE8 be passing the ACID 2 test, which depending on the release time, may be even ahead of the Firefox. (Opera and Safari are already passing it for some time). Besides ACID 2 being just a synthetic test of the CSS 2.1 standard, it is quite an important mark as well – it at least tests some of the important functionalities of the Cascading Sheets and represents the dreams and wishes of a lot of webdesigners for years. I hope, that there will be an ACID 2.5 test, including some of the most complicated situations in CSS standard, especially those where the major browsers are still having problems. Such test would always be a motivation for browser developers to improve their respective products and for the rest of us mortals a simple comparison tool to see which one is making bigger effort in providing a higher quality product.
The most interesting thing about IE8 web standards compliance is that it won’t support standard compliance mode like IE7 by default. One will have to use much talked and contested “X-UA-Compatible” header. I do not like this idea at all – but i have no illusions that no scream of web developers community will make Redmond change its mind.
2 interesting technologies included in IE8 are those to combat Google: Activities (think embedded Google Maps,) and WebSlices( selecting a part of the web page for saving for later viewing – for years there are quite a number of plugins for Firefox allowing this functionality).
Activities will allow to check out the address on the webpage by selecting it and then viewing it on the maps (microsoft maps, of course), and also social services links like digg it, facebook share links, etc. There must be a number of plugins in the future to include your preferred social services. I hope it will eliminate all those useless social links on the pages in the nearest future. =O)
I am still testing IE8 beta and still not sure if i keep it for more time. What i am concerned at the moment is whether we will have a possibility to have 2 browsers at the same time on the same computer – we are about to have IE6, IE7 and IE8 active – i don’t remember seeing 3 Microsoft browsers being in statistics for quite a number of years… With the recent death of the Netscape browser it brings a lot of nostalgia to me. I do not think about having IE6 on Vista – it is impossible, but for argument’s sake i need to have IE7 and IE8 on Vista, cause i won’t buy another license for a virtual machine just to get 3 browsers working at the same time.
p.s. A lot of sites are broken, quite broken if i might add – some of mine are included. Also there are a lot of cases when text adjustment does weird things, and IE7 emulation is far from perfect – many cases text justification sometimes is quite weird, but i do understand that it is just a first beta.