On Wednesday, Microsoft released beta 2 of Internet Explorer 8. You can check out their official Internet Explorer 8 website here, or go for the gusto and download the beta directly here.
I’ve installed in on a virtual machine and am pretty impressed so far. It’s a lot snappier than Internet Explorer 7, and has a few neat new features like Compatibility View (which allows you to view sites coded only for IE 5 or IE 6 “correctly”), Accelerators (which allow you to right-click a word or phrase and act directly on it, such as defining the word via Google or looking up an address via Google Maps), Web Slices (which allow you to turn almost any part of a web page into an updatable “feed”), InPrivate Mode (known online as “Porn Mode”), and the SmartScreen Filter (an updated take on IE 7’s “Phishing Filter”).
Microsoft, it seems, is serious about taking on Firefox, and IE 8 will apparently do much to close the functionality gap between the two browsers. I’m pretty impressed so far – especially with the stability of this release. Remember that this software is still in testing mode, so it might be less stable than the finished product on your system. If you’re the adventurous type, you’ll probably want to check this out!
The Internet Explorer 8 beta is available for Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP only.