IE 8 Beta 2 Review – Part 1
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 (IE 8), currently in beta 2 as of this writing, includes updates that make this release the most significant update since IE 4. The goal of this review is not to cover all of the product changes, but to highlight features that will most affect your day-to-day browsing. I’ll cover my favorite enhancements in Part 1, and then in Part 2, spotlight other notable features and “issues”.
Interactive browsing can be very tedious when you have to copy/paste or manually enter terms into a Search Bar. IE 8
provides Web Accelerators to streamline searches significantly and makes other similar tasks as simple as one or two mouse clicks. You now get options like “search”, “translate”, “define”, “find a map” by simply highlighting text and clicking. Honestly, this is my favorite new feature in IE 8 – It’s a great time-saver! Furthermore, an add-on manager makes it quick & simple to add or swap-out accelerators. Say you’re reading movie reviews and you want to see other movies an actor has been in. Add-in an accelerator that takes you to the highlighted actor’s IMDB page in one click – How cool is that? Or you run across a word you don’t know in a web article – In one highlight & click, you can have the definition – Now that’s acceleration!
Searching the web gets easier with the enhanced Search Bar. The most obvious improvement is an auto-complete feature, a real convenience and terminology aid. But going beyond plain text, visual thumbnails are displayed from providers like Amazon.com.
It’s a really cool effect to see book covers appear as you type! And cycling through search results from multiple providers is simplified by clicking thru a list of these icons. Additionally, an improved Address Bar makes it easier to “get at” content you may have already found. Typing search terms in the Address Bar now returns results indexed from pages in your Favorites, History and Web Feeds in addition to links. Results are presented in a clean, organized and easy to read manner.
Useful Page Zoom
Microsoft introduced page-zoom in IE 7 with mixed results. Using a proportional zoom, the feature often produced unreadable pages. Worse yet, widening the window would not solve the problem. IE 8 makes major improvements here with “Adaptive Page Zoom”. Now when you zoom-in on a web page, IE makes the content fit within the window boundary, often producing little or no adverse effect. And if you do see any deviations, widening the window usually solves the issue.