If you know me, or if you’ve read this site enough, you’ll know I’m not a fan of Internet Explorer. I’ve used Firefox since version 1 and I much prefer it. However, Microsoft have a lot of things right with IE8, and in this article, I want to share why you should consider IE8.
Internet Explorer 8 is the latest browser in the IE family and comes packed with so many new features that I initially wrote it off as a bloated mess. After spending three days using IE8 exclusively, I share my findings and hope to help you make the decision to use the browser or not.
IE8 is both fast and easy to use. When looking for a browser, these are two key components that help differentiate the browser from the other offerings out there. I’m not going to get technical in this article; I want to explain the facts in plain English and have you find out if IE8 is for you.
8 Reasons Why You Should Download IE8
Here are eight reasons I feel make IE8 stand out and contribute to why you should download IE8:
1. Web Privacy Protection
Some sites and advertisers track your browsing habits and serve ads and suggestions based upon those habits. With IE8, you can protect your browsing privacy and block tracking cookies.
To block tracking cookies, simply press the ALT key, click Tools > Internet Options, click the Privacy Tab, and set your privacy settings to Medium or higher (Medium privacy is the default setting for IE8.) Doing so will result in the following privacy report on www.mintywhite.com:
2. Local Privacy Protection
If you are using a public/shared computer or if you want to protect your privacy on the machine you are using, IE8 comes with InPrivate browsing. This feature stops IE storing tracking information on your browser and allows you to browse the internet without leaving tracks behind you. To enable InPrivateBrowsing, click Safety > InPrivate Browsing (CTRL+SHIFT+P)
3. Web Surfing Protection
The SmartScreen filter helps you check a websites validitiy and report suspicious websites. There are too many phishing sites to count online and the number increases every day. With the smart screen filter, you can protect yourself by checking websites before you use them.
To use the SmartScreen Filter, click Safety > SmartScreenFilter, and choose an option.
4. Page Content Search
I search webpages for text all the time (usually after a search.) I couldn’t stand IE7’s pop-up search box. IE8 has replaced the search box with a search bar that functions much like Firefox’s–much better!
5. Web Accelerators
Web accelerators help you perform routine tasks more easily. View the possibilities of IE8 Web Accelerators here.
To use a web accelerator, right click on the webpage and click All Accelerators > Your Accelerator. Using the Share on Facebook accelerator takes you to the Facebook share page (once you’ve logged into Facebook.)
6. Source Viewing/Editing in Your Favorite Editor
This one is a simple addition but I love it. Now, instead of viewing a page source in a plain browser-based text editor, IE8 opens page source code in your favorite editor. This isn’t useful for most people, but if you’re a web designer or similar, you’ll probably find this a useful feature.
7. Recently Closed Tabs
To view recently closed tabs and more, open a new tab in IE (CTRL+T) and you’ll see a list of recently opened tabs — very useful.
8. Web Slices
Web Slices are pretty cool; however, they’re not for me. I’m not normal, so I decided to add them to this list and hope you “normal” people will benefit from them. After all, I’m not telling me to use IE8, I’m (kindly) asking you to give it a try. Put simply, Web Slices take “chunks” of web pages and give you quick access to them anywhere. There aren’t too many Web Slice-enabled pages right now. But to get your first Web Slice, go to Live.com, search for “[your hometown] weather” and you should see the following:
Click the green icon and you’ll be asked the following:
Add the Web Slice to your Favorites bar and you’ll never need to go to your weather site again!
Bonus: Crashed Tab Handling
Some web pages aren’t well put together and poorly written scripts and data overload can cause your browser to crash. In IE8, if one tab crashes, you can re-launch it without affecting your browsing; other tabs stay in tact and you don’t need to restart your browser.
What I Don’t Like About IE8
I’m still not a fan of the following:
- Lack of decent Add-on support
- Difficulty in blocking ads (see above)
- Opening IE, typing an address, and finding IE wasn’t quite ready as it deletes my address and loads my homepage (picky, but I don’t like to be slowed down)
- IE’s strict web standards enforcement, which break most websites (even in compatibility mode.)
- IE8 still feels sluggish at times
- IE8 is harder to customize than Firefox (for example: compressed menus)
As you can see above, I really like IE8 and, if I had to, I’d use it all the time and not have a major problem with it. I’ve discussed some great features and feel these are great additions. It all boils down to how you find the experience. I’ve pointed you to some of the prominent and useful features, now give it a try. Already using IE8? Avoiding IE8 like the plague? Share your thoughts about IE8 in the comments below.
Rich is the owner and creator of Windows Guides; he spends his time breaking things on his PC so he can write how-to guides to fix the problems he creates.
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