updated 06:40 pm EST, Wed March 5, 2008
IE 8 takes on Safari
Microsoft has released Internet Explorer 8 (IE 8) beta, a test version of the company's free Web browser that will compete for dominance with Apple's Safari browser and Firefox. IE 8 features 'Activities,' or contextual services that provide quick access to a service -- such as 'look up' or 'send' -- from any Web page. Activities for example could allow a user to select the address of a restaurant and display an in-place view of the map using a favorite map service.
Another feature, dubbed 'WebSlices,' allows websites to connect to users by subscribing to content directly within a page itself. WebSlices behave just like feeds where clients can subscribe to get updates and notify users of changes. Internet Explorer 7's 'Links bar' has been renamed to the 'Favorites Bar,' which has undergone a complete makeover, according to Microsoft.
Automatic Crash Recovery -- or ACR -- helps to prevent the loss of work and productivity in the event of the browser crashing or hanging. ACR takes advantage of the 'Loosely-Coupled' Internet Explorer feature to provide new crash recovery capabilities like tab recovery, minimizing interruptions to browsing sessions.
An improved 'phishing' filter helps warn users when visiting a known phishing site. IE 8's phishing filter includes a feature called the 'Safety Filter,' which continues to block known phishing sites as well as sites known to contain malicious software that could harm users' computers or steal information. The Safety Filter also operates more quickly than before, according to Microsoft.
Finally, new Group Policy options are available to IT administrators, allowing them to remove the user-override option and fully block access to known unsafe sites.