The browser is king in an increasingly web-centric world and I don’t mean web-centric in the manner of communication – email, chat etc (which are certainly important) but increasingly people are relying on web application to carry out LOB (Line of Business) tasks and activities. With that in mind, the browser has taken a central role in computing generally. Microsoft owns the browser market and has done so since it successfully trounced Netscape in the now infamous browser wars. However, the sweet taste of victory and perhaps also some arrogance and complacency about its market, Microsoft decided that the browser was no longer worth its attention (Just look at IE 6). As you may be aware Firefox changed Microsoft’s view of the browser and spurred them to put more resources into the development of IE which brought tabbed browsing to IE with the release of IE 7. Microsoft’s work is not done as yet since IE has never really supported standards other than what Microsoft thought was best. Don’t get me wrong, initiatives by individual players in a particular software category could lead to increased innovation in the category but alas that is a post for another time.
The follow up to IE 7 has just been released in the name of Windows Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1. This beta release is targeted at web developers and designers and includes ‘super standards’ mode that the browser uses by default. Not that there are super standards but the simple meaning of the super standards mode is that IE 8 will adhere to web standards more closely when displaying web content. The inclusion of super standards mode as the default rendering engine means some additional work for developers and designers who want their wares to use anything but the super standards mode. The additional meta-tag added to web pages to trigger non-super-standards mode rendering on IE 8 is a testament to the continue special treatment that will be lavished upon IE when developing and designing web sites. It is not all lost though since I believe that making super standards mode the default for rendering will in the long run result in web designers and developers producing more standards compliant web sites.
I just installed IE 8 Beta 1 and I am kind of impressed by the installation experience. The download size was not that big but then again this is still an early beta – who knows what will happen by the time IE 8 is ready for release. The installation went on without any glitch. I should mention that I decided to install the beta because of IE 7 emulation which ensures that I get IE 7 rendering when I need it (though it requires a browser restart at the time of this writing).
I chose not to accept the default settings for my personalization of IE 8 Beta 1 which meant that I got all the options that are there with regard to search engines, web providers etc (I was not aiming to produce a professional account of my installation experience 🙂 ). Of course IE 8 offered to make itself the default browser on my machine but that honor currently belongs to Firefox (though for some reason, I can’t get Google Desktop Search to use Firefox for display even though it is the default browser but I digress). IE 8 customization offered to import my settings from my “other” browser which in this case is Firefox. The interesting part of the customization was when IE 8 detected the Firefox extensions I have installed and offered to find similar extensions.
The search for IE extensions took me to Windows Market places (windowsmarketplace.com) which looks rather wrong with IE 8 super standards mode running. Notice how the web site’s navigation bar is out of place?