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Thursday, 19 March 2009

Internet Explorer 8 released today

IE8 logo Microsoft released their latest browser version, Internet Explorer 8 today.

With this version, Microsoft is hoping to recapture some of the lost market share due to competitor browsers like Firefox 3, Google Chrome and Apple's Safari 4. Firefox in particular has been adding a lot of useful features in recent time and its market share is rapidly rising.

IE8 is a step up from IE7, claiming improved security, more user-friendliness and offering speed improvements as well.

Web standards

However, IE8 will cause a few headaches for web developers. The earlier versions of Internet Explorer were not standard-compliant but because the browser dominated market share, most developers coded their websites so they could be properly displayed in Internet Explorer only, regardless of whether the actual code was standard-compliant or not. Today the competitor browsers e.g. Firefox strictly follow the latest web coding standards which makes it easier for developers to code their sites, since everyone follows the same set of rules. Internet Explorer will now finally join this gang with version 8, since it's standard-complaint as well.

Web developers who specifically catered for earlier versions of IE will now have to update their sites to comply with the latest web standards. This of course is a good thing. Microsoft did however include an option in IE8 which will alllow the user to switch to compatibility mode to render those websites that were developed for IE7, without any problems.

Anti-competitive behaviour

Microsoft is expected to release their latest operating system, Windows 7, later this year. However, this time the OS will not include the Internet Explorer browser by default. Users will be allowed to download the browser of their choice, OR all the popular browsers will be included in Windows 7, leaving it up to the user to choose which browser to use by default. Microsoft has been under pressure to do this for a number of years, having been accused of anti-competitive behaviour throughout the industry. The European Commission in particular has indicated that Microsoft violated EU laws by bundling the IE browser with Microsoft operating systems.

Even though the Firefox browser has gained a lot of market share over the least two years, Internet Explorer still dominates the market but mostly since the browser is pushed to users of Microsoft operating systems through the automated Windows Updates process, not necessarily because of the browser's features.

Related article
With IE8, Microsoft Ignores One Third Of The Market (TechCrunch)

Download

IE7 users are advised to update to the latest version. For those who don't want to wait for Windows Updates to alert you when it's available, you can download IE8 here.

Firefox

Firefox logo
I'm definitely (still) a Firefox fan, due to its plethora of superior features and other advantages but I'll discuss that in more detail in the near future.

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