Microsoft's IE8 Release Candidate Now Live

Today Microsoft announced the availability of Internet Explorer 8, Release Candidate 1 for public consumption.

As of Monday afternoon, Microsoft brought Internet Explorer 8 out of beta, now available for the public to download and devour here. What does Release Candidate mean? The title states that the browser isn't in a finished state, however it is stable enough for general consumption; those who use the browser may experience minor bugs or compatibility issues with websites. However, according to IE General Manager Dean Hachamovitch in a blog, the browser is actually "platform complete."

Bur for those holding out for the final candidate, the wait may be a long one, as Microsoft has not released the "final" ship date of Internet Explorer 8. Still, Microsoft assures that the completed product will not differ from the current release candidate. "The ecosystem should expect the final candidate to behave like the release candidate," said Hachamovitch in an interview.

Upon installing the release candidate, consumers will notice that the installer scans the computer for malicious software. That in itself speaks on the company's insistence on improving the browser's security. To ensure safe browsing, Microsoft implemented a cross-scripting filter as well as protection against "clickjacking" attacks. According to IE Senior Product Manager James Pratt, clickjacking is way for hackers to access user information by applying a filter to a website, retrieving information such as bank details, passwords, and recent activity. Internet Explorer 8 remedies this by including a tag that server-side content managers can use within the code.

One of the hot issues with pervious Internet Explorer 8 builds was the use of "Suggested Sites," with many critics questioning the amount of data Microsoft collects in the address bar. Indeed, the features is one of the first windows in the initial set up, asking consumers whether to turn the Suggested Sites feature on, or leave it off. The browser also offers SmartScreen protection, filtering out malicious software, fraudulent websites, and those pesky phishing scams. Graphically, Internet Explorer 8 can actually make websites designed for older browsers look better through its Compatibility View options, another choice in the initial setup.

"IE8 focused on how people really use the web. Consumers want a browser that makes the tasks they do every day faster and easier," Hachamovitch said in his blog. "The activities people spend their time on define real-world performance: navigating to websites, working with tabs, searching, keeping track of changing information (like traffic or an auction), and using the information from one site with another (as in getting a map). Everyone wants a trustworthy browser that keeps them in control and protects their safety. Developers want great developer tools, great interoperability, and a powerful platform that enables them innovate. For some people, accessibility is crucial; for some organizations, policy, administration, and deployment are essential."

Currently Internet Explorer 8 requires Windows XP (Service Pack 2 or later) or Windows Vista; Release Candidate 1 does not work on the Windows 7 beta. However, users with Windows XP Service Pack 3 will not be able to uninstall Internet Explorer 8 or the Service Pack, as both become locked according to a blog by Microsoft Program Manager Jane Maliouta. "Windows XP SP3 and IE8 RC1 will become permanent. You will still be able to upgrade to later IE8 builds as they become available, but you won’t be able to uninstall them," she said.

Still, will Internet Explorer finally be able to take the reigns back away from Mozilla's Firefox as the leader in the browser market? Weary Internet users may not be so convinced of IE8's new security measures due to issues with previous versions. Perhaps Microsoft got it right this time around, however only time will tell.

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  • mi1ez
    RC1 is much better than the beta, and a vast improvement on IE7, but still nothing on Firefox.