Internet Explorer 8 RC1 impressions

I didn’t think the day would ever come, but it has: as of the RC1 build, Internet Explorer 8 appears to render TR pretty much flawlessly without IE-specific code enabled. That’s quite a radical improvement over the beta 2 release that came out five short months ago.

Regulars will recall my successive rants about the first and second IE8 beta releases, in which the new "standards-compliant" rendering engine tripped and stumbled on every other website (including TR). I dreaded the prospect of having to pull up my sleeves and write workarounds for yet another IE release, and to my frustration, the IE team seemed busier implementing peripheral features than fixing rendering bugs.

Somehow, though, they’ve pulled it off. IE8 RC1 behaves just as well on TR as on CNN, Google Maps, YouTube, and Facebook. What impresses me most is that this release can take the exact same code I feed to Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, and Opera without skipping a beat. In both IE7 and IE6, I’m forced to resort to a handful of browser-specific hacks to sidestep rendering bugs.

That said, IE8 might still be trailing Gecko and WebKit a little bit. While Firefox, Chrome, and IE8 all render the Acid2 test successfully, IE8 scores considerably lower in the Acid3 test. Even performance seems a little lackluster: in my Windows XP virtual machine, Chrome completed the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark almost four times quicker than IE8. I haven’t tested the new release candidate on Vista, however, so I’ll refrain from drawing any hasty conclusions.

What’s important is that the IE team managed to produce a browser that’s reasonably standards-compliant. That might not matter too much now, but it’ll be a big deal in a few years when IE6 and IE7 market shares drop near zero. I expect a decent chunk of IE7 users will make the jump, too, since IE8 has a similar interface and works on the same versions of Windows, but it brings a (vast) number of neat new features. Hopefully, Microsoft will push out IE8 on Windows Update a few months after the browser goes gold.

Does IE8 have what it takes to replace Firefox, Chrome, and Opera in the hearts of enthusiasts? I don’t believe so. However, IE8 now looks like a clear step up from IE7, and that’s a good thing for the next major release of the most popular browser out there.

Comments closed
    • xlmohi
    • 11 years ago

    IE8 is total craaaaaaaaaaaaaaap!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I installed it on Vista64bit and XP sp3 and it crashed every time I used, so I throwed it to the BIN.

    I’m browser mad guy tried all of the browsers up to date. Google Chrome is the champion, it only need more addons.

      • Meadows
      • 11 years ago

      As much as I respect Google advertising bots who joined the site 30 minutes ago (literally), I must say you’re talking rubbish.

        • xlmohi
        • 11 years ago

        I’m neither google bot nor anti MS, I’m TR reader quite long, Have use TR system building guide to build my first PC 16 months ago.

        My opinion about IE8 based on my experience, I even cant download W7 beta with IE8, when tried FF all done, hassle free.

          • Meadows
          • 11 years ago

          Curious, because I couldn’t do it with either, so I resorted to the old trusty Pirate Bay, then used the key Microsoft gave me. All the same.

    • lucas1985
    • 11 years ago

    #23,
    Yes, Win2K is 9 years old but it’s enough for the computing needs of a sizeable number of users who don’t watch HD videos, play 3D games or create multimedia content. I mean, a used PIII with 256 MB of RAM is fine for checking your Windows Live account, doing a little browsing and using Office 2000
    I should have mentioned that I live in a 3rd world country, so people think twice or thrice before upgrading to a newer PC.

    #32,
    What’s lacking on IE8 is Java*[

    • Kougar
    • 11 years ago

    I hope you realize IE8 keeps a database of sites that do not display correctly, and will use compatbility mode in the background without any user intervention when it detects it is browsing to these known problematic sites. Doesn’t mean they actually fixed it. 😉

    §[<http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/01/27/internet_exporer_8_rc/<]§

      • Cyril
      • 11 years ago

      Enabling compatibility mode reintroduces an IE7 bug with TR’s “More” menu, so I doubt that’s the case here.

    • dustyjamessutton
    • 11 years ago

    I wonder if IE8 would still let my mother use Citigroup RemoteDesktop on her laptop. It uses Java heavily, so maybe it’s not such a good idea if IE8’s Java performance is lacking.

    • Philldoe
    • 11 years ago

    IE8 looks like it’s goign to make a good mark for Microsoft. Guess it’s time to Make IE8 my new backup browser. Opera still stays #1 though.

    • lucas1985
    • 11 years ago

    #5,
    IE7 and IE8 don’t run on Win2K, a very fine OS used by lots of business and homes. Why should people throw their trusty PCs, upgrade to another OS (XP, since installing Vista on most machines running Win2K is a painful experience) or use a non-familiar browser (Opera, Firefox, Chrome)?

      • packfan_dave
      • 11 years ago

      By ‘used in lots of business and homes’, I assume you mean ‘like every desktop OS other than XP, Vista, and OSX, it has less than 1% market share’. Win2K is nine years old, and for eight of those years, something newer has been available.

        • Meadows
        • 11 years ago

        And for at least 4 of those years, a lot of places were clinging on to 98 SE.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 11 years ago

    Why does Cyril’s virtual xp look like win2k ?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      You can disable the Luna theme and choose “Windows Classic” instead.

        • Meadows
        • 11 years ago

        Which looks twice as good as that plastic s***.

          • crazybus
          • 11 years ago

          meh… Watercolor xptheme FTW, in my opinion the best theme ever designed for XP, ironically enough heavily influenced by the initial Whistler betas.

        • ssidbroadcast
        • 11 years ago

        Yes, but /[

          • Meadows
          • 11 years ago

          I answered the “why”. 😉

    • Meadows
    • 11 years ago

    And here comes what I’ve been waiting for, an IE8 version without the bugs that bothered me in Beta 2 (Beta 1 was unusable). I hereby demote Firefox to secondary browser, in case this release candidate has issues somewhere.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 11 years ago

    my experience with Javascript in XP with RC1 matches yours, Cyril. If anything, it feels slower on the web app I support than IE7, and both are miles slower than even current releases of Firefox.

    • SecretMaster
    • 11 years ago

    What amazes me most is that Cyril has a facebook 😛

    *runs to stalk him*

    • indeego
    • 11 years ago

    /[<"That might not matter too much now, but it'll be a big deal in a few years when IE6 and IE7 market shares drop near zero."<]/ I don't think they'll get close to zero for 5+ years. There's too much riding on IE6 implementations to just abandon them. §[<http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp<]§ Even with a drop of .5% every month, both browsers will be around for many, many yearsg{<.<}g

      • bthylafh
      • 11 years ago

      Aye. IE6 will never die out entirely. Even ignoring the corporate idiots who require that browser and no other for some custom app, it will take a /long/ time for the clueless/poor people still using Win9x-era computers to finish upgrading to something newer.

        • Meadows
        • 11 years ago

        Never say never, /[

        • derFunkenstein
        • 11 years ago

        it’ll take a while but the percentage of users will drop to the point where IE6 users should get nothing more than a page redirect to get something more modern.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 11 years ago

      Of course expecting a linear rate of decline is not realistic.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 11 years ago

    Cyril having good things to say about IE??? *Runs out to go buy lottery tickets*

      • Master Kenobi
      • 11 years ago

      Maybe not entirely. I’m running the RC1 right now, and the comments submit button, and the Google buttons are so freaking tiny I can’t even read the text. Cyril, are you seeing the same?

        • Cyril
        • 11 years ago

        The comments form and Google Custom Search fields both look fine to me here. Is that what you meant?

          • Master Kenobi
          • 11 years ago

          Regular Google.com straight page. The two buttons “Search” and “I’m Feeling Lucky” appear at a near microscopic size. The same thing happens to the button below this input form.

            • Meadows
            • 11 years ago

            I’m not getting what you’re getting, on either TR or Google.

            • Cyril
            • 11 years ago

            Yeah, I’m not having those problems either.

            • Master Kenobi
            • 11 years ago

            Doh. Guess I will need to look into whats up with this then. =/

            • Master Kenobi
            • 11 years ago

            I found it. My custom XP theme to make the system look more like Vista was the culprit. Who would have thunk it?

            In case anyone is curious I was using the Razor theme.

            • Saribro
            • 11 years ago

            Custom themes are a common cause of all kinds of mess, from simple graphical glitching to total application failure.

            • Master Kenobi
            • 11 years ago

            True enough, but the basic XP Luna theme looks like Fischer Price My First PC. =(

            • Swampangel
            • 11 years ago

            You know, the Windows Classic theme doesn’t. 😉

            • Master Kenobi
            • 11 years ago

            I have a personal hatred of the old 9x kernel and the Classic look of it makes me want to cringe.

            • A_Pickle
            • 11 years ago

            §[<http://www.istartedsomething.com/20061029/royale-noir/<]§ Dent gradients should be shot.

    • Saribro
    • 11 years ago

    It seems the new ielowutil.exe background process that manages to restart itself no matter how many times I kill it, we get for free too :/.

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      Like the FF thread that insists on grabbing back all the memory trimmed out of its workingset, no matter how many ways we try to make it not be such a pig.

      • Meadows
      • 11 years ago

      So why do you insist on killing it? Do you suppose that your low level software management skills are more valuable than that of Microsoft?

        • Saribro
        • 11 years ago

        When I close my browser, I needs to be gone, not hang around in the background forever.

          • Meadows
          • 11 years ago

          Give me proof that it’s causing issues or hogging resources.

            • CasbahBoy
            • 11 years ago

            Give us a good reason for it to exist to begin with. You don’t write a main program and then another persistent supporting program to clean up after it or prepare the system for its launch or whatever ielowutil.exe does – you write the main program well enough that it isn’t required.

            If it is sitting around collecting performance or usage data then in my mind that is even less of a reason to let it run when we are not using IE.

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