Internet Exploder Explorer 8 has finally arrived, and unlike the Beta version, it hasn’t crashed my computer. Yet.
Even 5 years ago, the arrival of a new browser was a big event. Nowadays, with the presence of Firefox, Safari and Chrome, its’ release is a little bit of an anticlimax. One hopes that that IE8 will be the browser equivalent of Windows 7: good software as it should have been in the first place. I’ve had too many “interesting” experiences with IE7 over the last couple of years.
So why, the fuss. Well, I’m not going to repeat or perform an in-depth review of IE8. There are plenty of other websites out there doing that and I simply haven’t spent that much time with it yet. I’m looking forward to IE8 as it finally promises a browser from Microsoft that it is in some way consistent and compliant with various web standards. As many web designers/developers out there will tell you, the CSS rendering in previous versions of IE7 is either fundamentally broken, wrong or just plain inconsistent. I have spent far too much time making websites IE friendly with the resultant CSS stylesheets being a discordant mess.
This is not to say that IE is the the only perpetrator out there. My favoured browser, Mozilla Firefox, still doesn’t pass the ACID3 test. Neither does Google Chrome. I haven’t tested in Safari as my patience with Apple software evaporated many moons ago. I can honestly say that I haven’t use Opera in many years.
Consistency has actually improved over the past decade though. I can remember back to 2000/1 when the standard practice at the company I was then working for was to develop separate stylesheets for each browser. Each website would programmatically detect the user’s browser and return the corresponding stylesheet. Thankfully, things have moved on. Back then, we only realistically worried about Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator (remember that?). Now we have a diverse range of browsers, and importantly, host operating systems and hardware platforms.
So, back to Internet Explorer 8. I will continue to play with it over the next couple of weeks, and I will post an update with my various comments and opinions in the near future. Will it ever replace Firefox? No. I am currently well and truly sold on the sheer extensibility of Firefox. I would be completely lost without extensions like PDF Download and Download StatusBar. If I’m honest, usage of IE8 will probably be restricted to Windows Update and the occasional download from Microsoft that requires a Windows Genuine Authentication check.