Microsoft officially launches IE8

Redmond (WA) – The Mix09 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada (March 18-20), which caters to both designers and web developers alike, has been chosen as the setting for Microsoft’s next-generation Web browser launch, Internet Explorer 8. The launch follows the release of Silverlight beta and Expression Blend 3, a web design and prototyping tool preview. So, is this the one we’ve all been waiting for?

Microsoft shows signs of finally listening to the needs of people. “Customers have made clear what they want in a Web browser — safety, speed and greater ease of use,” said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, in a statement. “With Internet Explorer 8, we are delivering a browser that gets people to the information they need, fast, and provides protection that no other browser can match.”

The browser is still lacking in regards to extensions and JavaScript, but it does deliver more than Mozilla’s Firefox in terms of browsing utilities such as Accelerators, search improvements, tab assistance and WebSlices. There are also security features, such as InPrivate browsing. This function leaves no trace the user was ever utilizing the PC. In addition, it prevents third-party websites from monitoring activities conducted by a user over the web. Microsoft has even delivered a Smart Address bar, which is much like the “awesome bar” from Firefox.

However, the browser’s greatest bragging rights could be that it’s the company’s first standards compliant browser, bucking its previous 15 year trend. This means it supports Cascading Style Sheets 2.1. In older IE versions backward compatibility was needed, so it was built-in. With IE8, a standards mode and IE7 mode are included so users can render sites built to previous IE (non-)specs.

The browser is also equipped with a time and frustration saving “auto render” feature that works from a web site list. When a user visits those sites known to have trouble rendering in IE8, the browser automatically reverts to IE7-compatible rendering.

It is expected the browser launch will be announced by Dean Hachamovitch (leader of the IE8 development team) during his keynote today. Beginning at noon EDT, it will be available for download on Microsoft’s website. The product is available in 25 languages for Windows Server, Windows Vista, and Windows XP in either 32-bit or 64-bit editions.