After over a year of beta testing, Internet Explorer 8 has finally gone gold. The complete, production-ready release of the new browser is available right now from Microsoft's Internet Explorer website.
Microsoft offers installers for Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2003 in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavors. In most cases, it looks like the new browser is a sub-30MB download, with the Vista x86 version weighing in at a scant 13.2MB. Installation requires a reboot, though, and it overwrites previously installed versions of IE—web designers be warned.
Once installed, IE8 asks users to import bookmarks from Firefox, Opera, and Safari (but not Google Chrome). The software feels about as snappy as the latter two, although the way it briefly blanks out the screen when loading new pages makes it appear somewhat less smooth. Oh, and of course, there's a plethora of new features on the menu: the smart address bar, color-coded tabs, "accelerators," "web slices," and a new, more standards-compliant rendering engine. You can get a complete tour of the new browser here.