Thursday, March 19, 2009

Browser Wars continued - Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 8

Last week, Mozilla took their next generation browser Firefox 3.1 to Beta 3.  As noted here on Monday, they began to promote the browser to 'regular' users.

This week also saw Google release a new beta release of Chrome which embraces extensions similar to those used in Firefox (and coveted by many in the tech community).

This morning, Microsoft took the Release Candidate label off of Internet Explorer 8 and unleashed official IE8 downloads for Windows XP, Vista, Server 2008 and other MS operating systems in both 32 and 64 bit variations.

Note: This release of IE8 should not be used by Windows 7 Beta testers (but in most cases, the installation program won't let you install it anyway :)

A variety of refined enhancements to the newly-released browser include more security, speed and better control over compatibity mode.

The installation was flawless for us in 32-bit versions of both Windows XP3 and Vista SP1.

Notable, as has been the case in the past, was the installation of new 'core components', which at this early stage, seem to be providing faster system performance.

In our brief tests this morning, the lighter weight Chrome browser from Google still seems to be the fastest  (including as compared to the new Safari 4 Beta from Apple) under Windows XP.  Firefox 3.1 Beta 3 is close behind with much better handling of Javascript as well as other speed and security enhancements, and greater community driven flexibility.

More testing of Microsoft's 'accelerators' and 'web slices' may yield new results.
Hopefully we can post some of that testing shortly.

Regardless, the race continues among the top 4 web browsers.

It'll be interesting to see whether or not Microsoft can motivate users of IE6 (there are still LOTS) and IE7, to upgrade to this new IE8 release.  The enterprise user 'identity crisis' isn't helping Redmond in their quest to keep market share, although Internet Explorer still commands well over 50% of that space.

It's up to the IT guys (and gals :) and large companies.  The latest IE8 doesn't seem to need a whole lot of system resources.  Getting to the decision makers is a different story .... and Google has been pushing heavily for adoption of Chrome.

Updated 3/19/2009 3 PM