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Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled the beta version of Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) for developers at the annual MIX08 conference in Las Vegas.

The beta version of IE8 includes better predictability when designing sites, full support for cascading style sheet (CSS) 2.1 at release to manufacturing, and integrated developer tools to quickly debug HTML, CSS and scripts in a visual environment, Microsoft said.

"A lot of the end user or consumer features are not featured on this build because it really is targeted at the developers and the designers," Matthew Lepsen from the Microsoft IE development team, said on a video produced by Microsoft's Channel 9 site.

While the consumer version of IE8 will differ somewhat from this first beta, it will not be a dramatic change, Lepsen said.

"There are not going to be huge landmark changes," Lepsen said. "We want to have continuity with the new functionality, so we don't want to shock our viewers with a whole bunch of changes."

The software giant again stressed the browser's interoperability. Microsoft on Tuesday announced that it will make IE8 standards compliant.

The browser will render the Acid2 browser test correctly, and fully supports CSS 2.1, Microsoft said. In addition, it fixes "many cross-browser inconsistencies such as get/set/removeAttribute, default attributes, Attribute object and the <> tag."

In an apparent coincidence, the Web Standards Group announced the release of the next-generation Acid3 test on Wednesday.

The beta will also include two new features, dubbed Activities and WebSlices.

Activities is intended to provide quick access to services from any Web site, Microsoft said. Once downloaded through the IE8 service guide, users can look up or send certain information from the Web. Those on a restaurant Web site, for example, can click within the page to get maps, look up news on the restaurant, blog about it, or share on Facebook.

Activities will also feature partnerships with companies like eBay and Stumbleupon, which eBay acquired in May. Highlight something on a Web site, right click it, and see if that item is available on eBay without ever leaving the original Web site, Lepsen said.

"We're always going to love control-v, control-c, but right now we're trying to shorten up the steps," Lepsen said. "The whole idea of tab proliferation? You don't always have to have that. Access to what you want to do most often is going to be a lot easier."

WebSlices is an RSS-like features that allows users to subscribe to content directly within a Web page. IE8 will identify WebSlices within a page, and add them to the favorites bar, which will also display updates.

The favorites bar was revamped for IE8. In addition to storing links to favorite Web sites, users can now add content like feeds, WebSlices, or documents from World, Excel and PowerPoint.

IE8 also includes automatic crash recovery, which restores tabs in the event of a failure.

Also on the security front, the beta will include a phishing filter to warn users of possible phishing Web sites.

In addition to the IE8 beta, Microsoft also unveiled the Silverlight 2 beta, which supports managed code, includes the core of the Common Language Runtime and adds over two dozen user interface controls, Microsoft said.

Microsoft also announced Expression Studio 2 beta, and a preview of SQL Server Data Services.

New and exciting features

Here are some end-user features you can expect to see in Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1.


Activities are contextual services to quickly access a service from any webpage. Users typically copy and paste from one webpage to another. Internet Explorer 8 Activities make this common pattern easier to do.

Activities typically involve two types of scenarios: "look up" information within a webpage or "send" web content to a web application. For example, a user is interested in a restaurant and wants to see the location of it. This is the form of a "look up" Activity where the user selects the address and views an in-place view of the map using his favorite map service.

Activities Screenshot

An example of a "send" Activity is a user reads an interesting article and wants to blog about a portion of the article. The user can select a portion of the article and uses the blog Activity. This navigates to the user’s blog site with the selection already available in the edit field.

Activities are services that the user can install and manage. Users can install them from the Internet Explorer 8 Service Guide or through any website that advertises Activities.


WebSlices is a new feature for websites to connect to their users by subscribing to content directly within a webpage. WebSlices behave just like feeds where clients can subscribe to get updates and notify the user of changes.

WebSlice Preview Screenshot

Internet Explorer 8 Users can discover WebSlices within a webpage and add them to the Favorites bar, a dedicated row below the Address bar for easy access to links. Internet Explorer 8 subscribes to the webpage, detects changes in the WebSlice, and notifies the user of updates. Users can preview these updates directly from the Favorites bar and click-through to the website to get more information.

Favorites Bar

In Internet Explorer 7, the Links bar provided users with one-click access to their favorite sites. The Links bar has undergone a complete makeover for Internet Explorer 8. It has been renamed the Favorites bar to enable users to associate this bar as a place to put and easily access all their favorite web content such as links, feeds, WebSlices and even Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.

Favorites Bar Screenshot

A user can easily add a link to the Favorites bar by using the Add to Favorites button and selecting the Add to Favorites Bar option.

Favorites Bar Screenshot

Automatic Crash Recovery

Automatic Crash Recovery (ACR) is a feature of Windows®Internet Explorer® 8 that can help to prevent the loss of work and productivity in the unlikely event of the browser crashing or hanging. The ACR feature takes advantage of the Loosely-Coupled Internet Explorer feature to provide new crash recovery capabilities, such as tab recovery, which will minimize interruptions to users’ browsing sessions.

Crash Recovery Screenshot See Automatic Crash Recovery white paper for more information.

Improved Phishing Filter

Internet Explorer 7 introduced the Phishing Filter, a feature which helps warn users when they visit a Phishing site. Phishing sites spoof a trusted legitimate site, with the goal of stealing the user’s personal or financial information. For Internet Explorer 8, we are building on the success of the Phishing Filter with a more comprehensive feature called the "Safety Filter."

Safety Filter Screenshot

For IT administrators, new Group Policy options are available to remove the user-override option and fully block access to known unsafe sites.

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 for Windows Vista x64 Edition and Windows Server 2008 x64 Edition

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 for Windows XP SP2

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 for Windows Server 2003 SP2

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 for Windows Server 2003 SP2 x64 Edition and Windows XP SP2 Pro x64 Edition

source :

- Chloe Albanesius on PC Magazine


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