Microsoft gave us tech bloggers a sneak peak at their new IE8 web browser the other day.
On the whole I like it. In several areas, IE8 catches up in features to other modern browsers. In other areas, it introduce a few new tricks other browsers could learn from.
IE8 does still retain the bizarre menu button placement introduced by IE7, as well as the generally Vista-ish (read tacky) look and feel of the chrome. This is probably enough to keep me personally from using it. What can you do. The important thing, the really important thing, however, is that a lot of other people start using it.
As far as functionality IE8 is one big step forward for Microsoft. And IE8 should be a good thing for the web. Some people will complain that the browser does introduce a number of new proprietary/non-standard features but you don’t have to use them. On the contrary, IE8 looks to be much more compatible where it counts as far as CSS and fundamental webstandards compatibility.
Modern versions of firefox, safari, opera are really great browsers and have been for years. If you’ve got one of these you are doing just fine. Nonetheless, stubbornly millions of people and far too many IT departments are still stuck way back on IE6. The F&*#&ckers. This is a problem. Maybe a problem only Microsoft can fix.
So it’s great news than, for the first time in many years, MS will have a browser worth using. How they plan to convert all those old IE6 & 7 users I don’t know (the process hasn’t gone so well for Vista you know). But if it can be done, if IE8, Firefox, and Safari can become the new baseline for the desktop web, than we could really get back to building some wonderful things. And web designers everywhere would just have to find something else to spend their time swearing about.
You can play with IE8 beta2 yourself if you like.
graphic: Modern Web development [circa 2006], Alan “IE users must die” Foreman