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Currently, unless you're pretty tech-saavy, you have the latest stable version of Internet Explorer - Version 7 installed. IE 7 integrated the best features that IE never had, such as tabbed browsing, better stability, less holes in the security and privacy of the browser. Simply put, IE 7 was the best browser Microsoft ever released. However, as usual with things on the internet, nothing stands still, and Microsoft is once again releasing a new version of Internet Explorer.
Upgrading software in the modern age couldn't be easier. I remember a time where you would have to wait literally an hour or so for a 20 Mb download over a 56K modem, current broadband allows the same download time to be reduced to a fraction of that, even on mobile phones. Upgrading always has its pros and cons. Like with any new piece of software, it takes time for the current users to get used to the quirks and features of the new software.
First of all, IE 8 is not yet officially out - Microsoft is keeping a tight lid on when their final release version is coming out, but as browser connoisseurs surely know by now, most beta softwares are typically just as good as their release counterparts (Chrome, Gmail, all are still in their beta stage of development).
So, here's what you need to do to get your hands on a shiny new copy of IE 8. Just head over to this website (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/beta/campaign/?ocid=ie8beta2&WT.srch=1) and scroll about halfway down. When you reach the halfway point of the page, you'll notice that there is a download button - just click on that and you're well on your way.
Now, once the download completes (if you're using IE 7, a window will appear telling you the download has completed and asking you what you'd like to do with it), you have two options - if the download window is still open, you can go ahead and click the "open" button to run the program, or, if you know where the program downloaded to (typically the desktop, you can just click double-click it). Now, the installer should be running and you'll see the first screen after an initial splash screen loads the installer. From here, you'll want to click "next" to proceed to the first real screen of the installer.
The next screen will show you the electronic license agreement - go ahead and click "I accept", unless you'd like to read through the licensing agreement. After accepting the agreement, you'll see a new screen pop up asking if you'd like to check for upgrades, make sure the box is checked and click next. From this point, the installer is automated and will download the files it needs on its own, take a few minutes to do something else while the installer completes (on a fast computer it shouldn't take more than a minute or two). Assuming everything checked out and the installer completed successfully, it'll ask you to restart your computer. Go ahead and click to allow it to restart your computer, but only once you've closed every other program down ensuring your work has been saved.
Once your computer gets back from restarting, IE8 should be fully installed in the place of IE7. Get acquainted with the features because we'll be weighing the pros and cons of the new browser in our next article - "Decoding IE 8".