Microsoft’s latest version of Internet Explorer promises faster surfing, an intuitive design, and the greatest level of web page compatibility than any previous version of the browser. However, the market has been a bit slow to adopt Internet Explorer 8 over the very stable and very usable version 7 of the browser. Read on to learn more about whether you should upgrade to Internet Explorer 8, stick with Internet Explorer 7, or move to a completely new browser such as Mozilla Firefox.
New Features in Internet Explorer 8
Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) boasts several new features that set it apart from IE7. The browser offers a more intuitive address bar that does not simply contain previously visited websites. With one click, you can view visited sites, your recent browsing history, and even your favorites. This eliminates the need to type in addresses directly or fumble through folder after folder of favorites. For those irked by the placement of the stop and reload buttons in IE7, IE8 users can opt to position these functions next to the forward and back buttons like previous versions of IE.
Microsoft’s new SmartScreen filter makes web browsing safer than ever. SmartScreen protects you from malicious software that has the ability to identify you personally or compromise the files on your computer. Microsoft’s SmartScreen technology is, no doubt, in response to the rise of concern over identity theft.
IE8 also gives you complete control over the handling of first- and third-party cookies, allowing you to decide whether to accept, deny, or prompt you when a website wants to put a cookie on your computer. You will find that denying all cookies will greatly degrade your Internet experience, especially when shopping online. IE8 allows you to strike a balance with accepting or denying cookies with the prompt feature. Each time a website tries to place a cookie on your computer, you will be prompted whether to allow or disallow the cookie.
IE8’s most impressive feature is Microsoft’s introduction of Compatibility View to the browser. As the Internet and its technologies age, newer standards are accepted and used by web site creators. However, many websites cling to older, simpler technologies making browser compatibility a nightmare for browser developers.
IE8 ships with Compatibility View that you can turn on and off like a light switch. Website not displaying correctly in your browser? Click on Compatibility View and see if the website is using outdated website creation techniques. If so, Compatibility View allows you to view older pages correctly just as the website’s designers intended. This view essentially lets you view web pages as if you were using IE7, a useful insurance policy for those unsure of whether to abandon IE7 for the upgrade to IE8.
Internet Explorer 8’s Popularity Versus Other Browsers
According to W3Schools.com, Internet Explorer 8 captures only about 11% of the Web Browsing Market, up from less than 1% at the beginning of 2009. IE7’s popularity has dropped to about 15%, down from 26% at the beginning of 2009.
With about 40% of the total web browsing market, Internet Explorer (all versions 6, 7, and 8) still lags behind Firefox’s nearly 48% market share. Google’s Chrome comes in far behind either of these two giants capturing only about 7% of the market. Safari with its 3% market share and opera with 2% are barely competitors in the industry.
The low popularity percentages of IE8 can be explained by two phenomena. First, Windows Vista was nowhere near as popular as Microsoft had hoped. In fact, due to the limitations of Vista, many computer users have stuck with Windows XP as their operating system of choice. Upgrading to IE8 requires either an opt-in during installation of updates for XP, or going to the IE8 website and manually downloading the browser.
Second, many Internet users were dismayed by the changes made from IE6 to IE7. IE7 put certain buttons in strange places forcing users to stray all over the navigation bar at the top of the browser where earlier browsers placed these functions in a row across the top left of the browser’s window. Many users were, no doubt, skeptical about upgrading to IE8 and put it off for as long as possible. With the release of Windows 7, we will see the popularity of IE8 increase.
Upgrading to Internet Explorer 8 can yield a significantly better browsing experience than afforded by previous versions of IE. Faster, more convenient, and safer surfing are just some of the benefits of upgrading to IE8. As more and more people adopt the browser, we are likely to see more updates and responses by IE8’s competitors. The result can only be better Internet browsing for Internet users.
Need more information or other help with IE 8? Check out related Bright Hub articles such as Internet Explorer - Should I Upgrade or Switch, Upgrade Microsoft Internet Explorer and How to Repair Internet Explorer 8 – What to do When IE 8 Hangs.