After the release of IE 8 Beta 2 in August 2008, Microsoft has released the near final version of its web browser, the IE 8 Release Candidate 1 on January 26th 2009. Unlike IE 7’s monolithic browser architecture, IE 8 comes with architectural changes that are referred to as “loosely coupled IE” or “LCIE” by Microsoft and hence ensures better browsing stability and lesser propensity to potential exploits. The loosely coupled system puts the different tabs in different system processes unlike IE 7, where there were different processes for different windows but the tabs, toolbar extensions, ActiveX controls were managed by the same process and hence a crash or failure in any one of them lead to the crashing of the whole browser window. Google Chrome too uses this approach of running separate processes for different tabs and in addition it also gives plug-ins separate processes.
From being the king in web browsing world in 2004, Microsoft now faces a lot of competition from Mozilla’s Firefox, Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome. According to Net Applications, the global market share of IE 8 is just 0.82 % whereas that of Google Chrome is 1.04%, Mozilla Firefox (all versions) 21.34% , Apple Safari (all versions) 7.93% and hence it has to do a lot of catching up. It offers inprivate filtering and inprivate browsing features. Hence if you use a shared PC you can be confident that cookies, web history, searches and other information is not stored and will give you the required privacy while browsing. It is also the first browser to give protection against “clickjacking”. The inprivate filtering further enlarges the periphery of user privacy as it prevents content providers from gathering information about a user’s browsing habits.
The tab handling of IE 8 too is worth mentioning. In IE 8 if you open a tab from an existing tab then that tab will have the same color as that of the parent tab and will be grouped together. Microsoft has also introduced accelerators which are basically in-page web services and help you get relevant information without leaving the page. Webslices, add-ons, one click favorite buttons are also added in IE 8 but still it lack one major feature and that is a download manager!
Is this the next black horse from the stables of Microsoft? We just have to wait and watch.