The second beta of Microsoft's upcoming browser Internet Explorer 8 has been released today to the public after a post was made on the Internet Explorer Blog.
Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 is available for all 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2003 / 2008. It is available in the languages English, German, Japanese and Chinese with additional versions out later as well according to Microsoft.
The Internet Explorer development team focused on three themes according to the announcement: everyday browsing, safety and the platform, with everyday browsing probably getting the biggest boost in this beta.
Microsoft changed the a navigation bar so that is doing more than just opening urls or showing pages that have been visited before.
The navigation bar resembles that of Firefox's location bar as it includes suggestions, feeds, history and favorites, and displays those to the user depending on the search query and past activity.
The Smart Address Bar as it is called now looks cleaner that that of Firefox because it breaks down the different data types nicely.
The developers of Internet Explorer introduce colored tabs in the browser as well that show relations between tabs directly in the browser. Additionally, the browser gets highly requested features such as the ability to restore closed tabs or restore browsing sessions.
Internet Explorer Activities have been renamed to Accelerators, and Beta 2 sees a few new additions to the new feature that works a bit like addons in Firefox.
Lastly on-page searches are visualized now in the web browser so that entered search terms are highlighted on the page to improve it.
Some features in the everyday browsing category are interesting: I like the clean look of the smart address bar and the colored tabs for instance.
The team stated that it has speed up Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 performance wise but I was not able to test that yet extensively.
A lot of smaller changes have been introduced in Internet Explorer 8 as well that make the web experience a tad easier. Take Find on Page for example. When you search on a page, Internet Explorer is shows you the number of hits it found on that page now; a very nice and handy feature.
A lot has been done in the security sector as well. InPrivate Browsing ensures that no data is written and stored on the local PC while browsing Internet sites. In addition to that, InPrivate Blocking makes it possible to block third party web content that track or aggregate online behavior.
The development team has put lots of thought into this version and I can say that I have not been so excited about a new version of Internet Explorer in a long time. Firefox users can add most of the features with add-ons but it is definitely a step in the right direction for users who are using Internet Explorer. Well done Microsoft.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.