Oh man, did I ever do a lot of umm, 'testing' today with the new Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2. I've spent a few hours bouncing around to many web sites seeing how Beta 2 handles the various designs, coding styles, etc. If you used Beta 1, you probably used that 'IE7 rendering' button nearly instantly. Beta 2 handles sites MUCH better now. So far I haven't run into any problems with rendering, all of the various elements work properly, etc. A couple of things I like right off the bat:

  • color-coded tabs - I'm a tab junkie. I have a dozen tabs open at any one time. Beta 2 groups them together now using color to indicate which tabs are related to each other, and also places them together. This is really nice if I'm researching something and don't have to deal with reading each tab to figure out if I'm in the right place.
  • accelerators - These are pretty nifty. Highlight some text, and a little blue arrow appears. When you click on the arrow you are given choices of several tasks to perform using the highlighted text: search the web, open a map, look up a definition, etc. I use the defaults right now but fully expect 3rd parties to load this up to provide easy access to all sorts of stuff (hint hint Facebook).
  • InPrivate browsing - This is a pretty interesting idea. I honestly probably won't use it much but I do think it'll be extremely useful if I'm using a friend's computer or a public terminal. It lets you browse without storing history, cookies, temporary Internet files, etc, on the computer. No footprint remains of your session.
  • suggested sites - OK so I've been using this 'world wide web' thing since 1993, around the time the first popular graphical browser, Mosaic, was released (I still have a place in my heart for Lynx). Yet I can never think of interesting stuff to look at online. I bounce around a few sites but that's about it. Suggested sites will hopefully open my web world a bit. If you enable it, it looks at the sites you visit and suggest sites that might be interesting to you. I'm going to watch this over time and see exactly how good it is at finding interesting sites. Hopefully in the process I'll find some new favorite sites.
  • address bar - To make it easier to see if you've been sent to a site that isn't legit, the address bar now makes the domain name of the web site stand out better. If you don't recognize the site, leave. Also, if you click on down arrow on the right of the bar, the list now includes recently visited sites, favorites, favorites and feeds. I always forget about my favorites so I really like this.

There are lots of other features but I haven't played with them yet. To see what the IE team says about the new beta, go to the IE team blog. There are also a bunch of videos that have been produced to show off IE8. To see them, go to the IE8 videos page.If you want to go and install beta 2 right now (you know you want to), go to the IE8 web site. Unlike Beta 1, Beta 2 is a version that the general public, rather than developers, should feel comfortable installing.

Here's a general overview video about IE8