Saturday, August 23, 2008

Third Impressions: Internet Explorer 8 Beta



Star Date: 20080823195105...



Captain's Log:

I have once again hit myself in the head with a brick and installed Internet Explorer 8 (beta): Build 8.0.6001.17184, on my Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit computer. I'm not sure which hurts more, the brick or IE standards compatability mode. Ouch!

First impressions of Beta 1: Crap

Second impressions of Beta 1: It crashed too often to form an opinion.
Third impressions of Beta 1: Not bad.
I have found that I absolutely HAVE to run it in IE7 Emulation mode to get anything done however. It works in that respect and am able to function. So far it has crashed less often than Firefox 3.01 on my same machine. FF3 seems to be buggy compared to FF2. FF2 hasn't crashed on my very often but 3.01 crashes at least three times a day if I work in it all day. Shame too because it's actually a better browser from a UI aspect. The way it stores and manages form entries, spell checking and the general layout of the tabs and features is much better than either IE7 or IE8.
I really wish they would move the stupid "fixed" icon bar which is squished into the tab strip to the right. Still as it is in IE7, but with even more crap stuffed in. Dumb. I'd much rather have a single button with a drop-down/pop-up menu strip instead of all those dumb buttons. It just looks sloppy and poorly thought out. My humble meaningless insignificant worthless opinion of course.
In native IE8 mode I cannot even post to Blogger or any Community Server blogs. I can't navigate GMail worth a crap and Hotmail is really unstable. If I use the drag-and-drop features in Hotmail for example and drag a message into a custom folder it frequently locks up and I have to kill it with an axe and a can of gasoline. Some sites just don't work with it very well at all.

The problem is that Microsoft ignored everyone's begging for them to support "standards" for so long that developers just gave up and started intentionally breaking their code ("forking" is the same as breaking, I don't care what you call it) to make it play nice in IE6 and IE7. Then came IE8 and now they're finally coming down from their secret treehouse to play ball with everyone. But everyone was half-way up the tree attempting to meet their demands to change the rules, so now everyone has to stop and climb back down? Boy, that's a very tall order. I imagine it could take years to get even a significant portion of web sites modified to work properly in IE8 (that would be like IE11 by that point).

IE11. Sounds funny doesn't it? Why not IE 2008? System Center 2007, Office 2007, Windows Server 2008, but IE8? The Product Naming Department seems to be sharing their dope collection with the Versioning Department at Microsoft. I think there's a contest internally to see who can get by with the longest product name. The winner gets to somewhere where it doesn't rain as much as in Redmond I suppose. Oops! - I slipped off topic again. My bad.

So, there are actually some nice features in IE8. It's not ALL bad actually. :)

The context menu that pops up when you highlight things in web pages is very useful. And you can modify it a little bit to include your own "activities" such as adding Gmail or Google Maps to your list of things to execute on behalf of what you have selected. See the screen capture below for an example...

I'm getting a little more excited to see the next build arrive. Word has it that Beta 2 is close to release and I'm really eager to check it out now.
The features in IE8 Beta 1 are good, but the UI needs more work. I give it a grade of C+ at this point. IE7 gets a D+ and IE6 needs to just stand out in the hall and wear the Dunce cap. FF2 gets a B and FF3 gets a mixed grade of A for features, but a C+ for stability and reliability. Opera is in the lunchroom digging in the trashcan. Safari is passed out on the bench in the playground.
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