Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled the beta version of Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) for developers at the annual MIX08 conference in Las Vegas. The beta version of IE8 includes better predictability when designing sites, full support for cascading style sheet (CSS) 2.1 at release to manufacturing, and integrated developer tools to quickly debug HTML, CSS and scripts in a visual environment, Microsoft said.While the consumer version of IE8 will differ somewhat from this first beta, it will not be a dramatic change, Lepsen said.The software giant again stressed the browser’s interoperability. Microsoft on Tuesday announced that it will make IE8 standards compliant.The browser will render the Acid2 browser test correctly, and fully supports CSS 2.1. In addition, it fixes “many cross-browser inconsistencies such as get/set/removeAttribute, default attributes, Attribute object and the < Q > tag.” In an apparent coincidence, the Web Standards Group announced the release of the next-generation Acid3 test on Wednesday.
The beta will also include two new features, dubbed Activities and WebSlices.Activities is intended to provide quick access to services from any Web site.
Once downloaded through the IE8 service guide, users can look up or send certain information from the Web. Those on a restaurant Web site, for example, can click within the page to get maps, look up news on the restaurant, blog about it, or share on Facebook. Activities will also feature partnerships with companies like eBay and Stumbleupon, which eBay acquired in May. Highlight something on a Web site, right click it, and see if that item is available on eBay without ever leaving the original Web site, Lepsen said.”We’re always going to love control-v, control-c, but right now we’re trying to shorten up the steps. The whole idea of tab proliferation? You don’t always have to have that. Access to what you want to do most often is going to be a lot easier.”WebSlices is an RSS-like features that allows users to subscribe to content directly within a Web page. IE8 will identify WebSlices within a page, and add them to the favorites bar, which will also display updates.The favorites bar was revamped for IE8. In addition to storing links to favorite Web sites, users can now add content like feeds, WebSlices, or documents from World, Excel and PowerPoint.IE8 also includes automatic crash recovery, which restores tabs in the event of a failure. Also on the security front, the beta will include a phishing filter to warn users of possible phishing Web sites.