Archive for the ‘Internet Explorer’ Category

Tuesday, March 16th 2010

Internet Explorer 9 on the way

It looks like Internet Explorer 9 will have quite a few nice new features for web designers and developers!

Microsoft are demonstrating some of the new browser’s capabilities here. They include rounded borders, CSS3 Selectors, JavaScript speed to match Firefox 3.6 and many more things.

I must say I’m quite impressed, although I haven’t actually downloaded and installed the preview yet.

Screen Shot of Internet Explorer 9 demo site

But why can’t they just call the test version IE9 preview or something logical. Internet Explorer Platform Preview??

Monday, December 14th 2009

Firefox 3.5 most used browser this week

This week, Firefox will most likely become the most used web browser version in the world, according to Statcounter.

Browser market share graph from Statcounter

According to Net Applications though, Firefox 3.5 has a while to go before being king.

I wish Google would share their browser data. They did, way back, didn’t they?

Monday, November 9th 2009

Firefox 5 years today

Today, the 9th November, is Firefox’s 5th birthday. Firefox 1.0 was released the 9th November 2004.

Firefox 5 years birthday cake.

Photo by Christopher Blizzard.

I didn’t start blogging until December 2004 so I have no historical blog post to link to.

Back in 2004 I’d already been using Firefox since version 0.6, released in May 2003. And I’d been a fan of the Mozilla Suite for roughly 2 ½ years. (Mozilla 1.0 was released 5th June 2002.) And before that I was happily using Netscape 6 since its release in November 2000.

In 2005 I wrote a long version of how I became such a huge Firefox fan. Towards the end, thinking about the future, I wrote:

Imagine being a web developer in 2009, with almost 93% of the browser market being CSS3 compliant.

Hah, that’s a laugh. It turns out things don’t move quite that fast. Still, we’re basically rid of the IE6 plague and IE7 is heading in the same direction – down.

Here’s to another 5 years of Firefox gaining market share! In 2014 it should have at least 50 percent. IE will be a minority player.

Tonight I’m meeting Mozilla Sweden, i.e. David Tenser and Patrick Finch at the Bishop’s Arms for a … beer? Naw, a coke maybe. 🙂

Edit: Mozilla’s Asa Dotzler has a good blog post up.

Wednesday, October 14th 2009 drops support for IE6

Another of the main Swedish news sites, Dagens Nyheter, is dropping support for IE6. This isn’t a day too early. Back in February, Aftonbladet did the same thing.

Visitors using IE6 are shown a pretty box at the top of the page, suggesting the visitor upgrades to IE8 or installs Firefox, Chrome or Safari. As usual, poor Opera are left out of the fun.

Opera is still among the supported browsers though:

  • Internet Explorer 7
  • Internet Explorer 8
  • Firefox 3 and up
  • Safari 4 and up
  • Google Chrome
  • Opera

We should do something similar at Heard my boss thinking aloud about perhaps suggesting Firefox, but then I believe IE6 is already as low as one or two percent!

Tuesday, September 29th 2009

The Big Problem with Google Chrome Frame

Google recently announced Chrome Frame, a plug-in for Internet Explorer which lets web sites use the rendering engine from Google Chrome instead of IE’s default rendering engine, Trident.

Before I understood how this was meant to work, i thought Wow! Google are going to rid the web of Internet Explorer! My happiness soon came to a screeching halt though.

If we ignore all the difficulties of making Chrome’s rendering engine (Webkit) play nicely with the Internet Explorer interface, there is one fundamental problem that stops Chrome Frame from becoming the web saviour that everyone was hoping for.

The problem that Chrome Frame aims to fix – the large user base of Internet Explorer coupled with its stone-age rendering engine – exists mainly due to lack of knowledge.

People who keep using Internet Explorer do so largely because they don’t know about the alternatives, or what a huge problem IE is for web developers.

The number of IE users who have made a conscious decision to stick with IE, but still are knowledgeable enough to understand the benefits of a modern rendering engine, can probably be counted on a few thousand left hands.

So, along comes Chrome Frame. But, the essential factor knowledge is just as lacking now as it has been before. Chrome Frame still requires IE users to knowingly install it, which I really can’t see happening.

Google Wave Logo

However, Google may have another card up their sleve. A card known by the name Google Wave.

Google Wave is, drasticly simplified, a replacement for e-mail. It is an online tool for communication and sharing. Now this sounds like something we’ve all heard a million times before. It isn’t.

Anyway, Google have given up on trying to get Wave working properly in Internet Explorer. Wave relies heavily on modern standards, and IE is just too far behind. Instead, Google Wave will ask IE users to install the plug-in Chrome Frame. Or another browser.

If Google Wave catches on properly it may well give IE users a healthy nudge in the direction of better browsers and/or Chrome Frame. And having seen the demo of Wave, I think it may very well become the next big thing.

However, having followed the browser market for ten years or so, I’ve seen how slowly it shifts. I doubt Chrome Frame and/or Wave will introduce any dramatic changes.

Thursday, September 24th 2009

One Year in Europe

This, my friends, is development:

Graph showing browser market share in Europe over the last twelve months, from September 2008 to September 2009.

Graph showing browser market share in Europe over the last twelve months, from September 2008 to September 2009.

In one year …

  • Internet Explorer 7 has gone from 37.6% to 20.3%.
  • Internet Explorer 6 has more than halved, from 18.4% to 8.4%.
  • Internet Explorer has lost a total of 10 percent market share to more modern browsers.
  • Half of all Firefox users have upgraded to the latest version, 3.5*. At 20.7% – three months after release – it is already the most used browser version in Europe, and looks likely to reign supreme until 3.6 is released in a few months.
  • Firefox 2 has decreased from 9.4% to 1.6%.
  • All in all, somewhere around 60% of Internet users in Europe have moved to a newer browser.

*) This chart beautifully illustrates the efficiency of Firefox’s automatic update system compared to that of Internet Explorer (Windows Update). Firefox 3.5 has got further in three months than IE8 has in 6!! It wouldn’t surprise me if the Firefox 3.5 update is the fastest ever in the history of software, measured in number of users per time.

If we take a step back and look at the global numbers, things aren’t quite as rosy. But everything is still moving in the right direction:

Graph showing browser market share world wide over the last twelve months, from September 2008 to September 2009.

Graph showing browser market share world wide over the last twelve months, from September 2008 to September 2009.

  • Internet Explorer (6+7+8) has gone from 67.2% to 58.4%.
  • Firefox has gone from 25.8% to 31.3%.
  • Internet Explorer 7 peaked at 41.9% in December and has since lost 17 percentage points, mainly to IE8.
  • Internet Explorer 6 has lost a heap of users, down from 28.0% to 17.1%.
  • During the last year, more than 50% of Internet users have upgraded their browsers.

Obviously, all these numbers are all according to Statcounter only. NetApplications numbers tend to show Firefox at slightly numbers. The trends are essentially the same, and the Statcounter graph tool is so much nicer to use.

Thursday, May 14th 2009

The Need for Speed

At the end of March, we launched a new version of our website at Eskilstuna-Kuriren, We replaced our ancient content manger with a new, modern, flexible system known as Polopoly. Polopoly is developed in Sweden and used by many of the large Swedish news sites.

The launch went smoothly, but soon we started getting e-mail upon e-mail from users about speed problems. After a while it turned out that many Internet Explorer users were having huge problems both loading the page and scrolling the page.

Apparently, when loading the website in Internet Explorer it can sometimes make the whole computer slow down to a halt, forcing a hard reboot. If you manage to load the page, it can scroll painfully slowly.

Obviously, this mainly shows that the site hasn’t been properly tested. A huge majority of our visitors use Internet Explorer. Or at least they used to. Perhaps the percentage has gone down now, from people simply giving up on us. It truly amazes me how the developers still haven’t properly managed to sort out the performance issues. They have supposedly been working on this from day one, which is almost two months back now.

While I still haven’t actually heard a precise technical explanation of what the problem is, this experience shows in a very tangible way how big a difference there is between Internet Explorer and the more modern browsers when it comes to speed. Whether it is the scripting engine or the rendering engine or something else that is causing the problems for Internet Explorer users I don’t know.

What I do know is that we simply haven’t had a single complaint about performance from Firefox or Safari users.

Here’s to hoping that the site admins get the issues sorted as soon as possible and that all browsers will be able to display our news site without the user suffering serious illnesses from frustration.

Thursday, May 7th 2009

IE8 Sorted

After finishing my slight redesign here I found that IE8 made a complete mess of it. Turned out of course that I had forgotten to change the doctype into something other than XHTML Strict, which IE still doesn’t understand.

I went with the nice, simple HTML 5 doctype, which seems to be the best option:

<!DOCTYPE html>

That was all that was necessary and now, miraculously, my blog looks … decent in IE8! Looks like it has finally understood my max-width rules as well! Amazing stuff.

Monday, March 30th 2009

Beta Browser Battle 2: Page-load times

This is part two of my comparison of the latest browsers. (Part one is here.) This time I compared page-loading times, just as Betanews recently did.

The browsers I’m comparing are …

  • Firefox 3.1 beta 3
  • Safari 4 beta
  • Internet Explorer 8
  • Opera 10 alpha
  • Chrome 2 beta

I compared the browsers on five different sites / web pages:


Let’s just get straight to the results. I’ll go through my methods later.

Graph showing page-load times for Firefox 3.1 beta 3, Safari 4 beta, Internet Explorer 8, Opera 10 alpha and Chrome 2 beta

In the graph above, the average page-load times for all five web pages have been added together, as have the 95% confidence intervals. All in all, this graph is based on 500 page loads.

Chrome and Firefox are tied for first place – their confidence intervals overlap. Safari and Internet Explorer are tied for third, and Opera is fifth.


For each combination of browser and web site I did a total of 20 page-loads. I measured one web page at a time, working my way through the five browsers.

Since network traffic and page weight can vary over time, I did them in two sets of ten measurements. First I did ten measurements with the browsers in one order: A, B, C, D and E. Then I did ten measurements in the opposite order, starting with browser E. I also rotated the five browsers between A, B, C, D and E for the five different web pages.

Before timing the page-loads, I shift+reloaded (or the equivalent ctrl+reload in IE) the web page ten times to saturate any network cache and to get the browser warmed up. I did this for each browser, before each set of ten measurements. (Ten reloads might sound excessive, but I started off doing only three, which turned out to be too little to reach the shortest load times.)

Between each page-load I cleared all browser data (cookies, cache, etc.). Except for Facebook, where I kept cookies and secure sessions to be able to time the Facebook home page when logged in.

To time the page-loads I used this Javascript page-load timer. As the Microsoft white-paper on testing browsers says, this could introduce an observer effect. But I think we can assume that the Javascript that is being executed is pretty simple and shouldn’t affect the times noticeably.

This test showed that Google Chrome 2 beta is not 100% stable. It hung twice (in 100 page loads) and produced load times of over 30 seconds. I decided to remove these values and replace them with new ones.

Results in detail

In these graphs, each bar shows the average of 20 page-loads. The error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.

Chart or graph showing page-load times for Firefox 3.1 beta 3, Safari 4 beta, Internet Explorer 8, Opera 10 alpha and Chrome 2 beta on

For, Firefox and Chrome are tied for first. Safari and Internet Explorer are tied for third. Opera is last.

Chart or graph showing page-load times for Firefox 3.1 beta 3, Safari 4 beta, Internet Explorer 8, Opera 10 alpha and Chrome 2 beta on the Facebook home page.

The Facebook home page loads fastest in Firefox and Chrome, whose confidence intervals only just overlap. The other three browsers are significantly separated.

Perhaps it is the fairly Javascript-heavy nature of Facebook that makes it load so slowly in IE8?

Chart or graph showing page-load times for Firefox 3.1 beta 3, Safari 4 beta, Internet Explorer 8, Opera 10 alpha and Chrome 2 beta on Chrome and Internet Explorer are tied for first. Firefox and Safari are tied for third. Opera is last, again.

Chart or graph showing page-load times for Firefox 3.1 beta 3, Safari 4 beta, Internet Explorer 8, Opera 10 alpha and Chrome 2 beta on a Wikipedia article.

I decided to test the browsers on a long Wikipedia article with lots of images. I looked up Munich, which turned out to be a good candidate.

Chrome and Firefox are tied for first place. Safari is third, Opera fourth and IE fifth.

Chart or graph showing page-load times for Firefox 3.1 beta 3, Safari 4 beta, Internet Explorer 8, Opera 10 alpha and Chrome 2 beta on

Finally, Chrome, IE and Firefox are all tied for first place. Safari is tied with Firefox but slower than Chrome and IE. Opera is last.


Chrome sucks web pages off the Internet like an Electrolux. So does Firefox. In this test I haven’t managed to separate them significantly. As we all can see, Chrome has a lower average sum than Firefox, and perhaps with more data it would be possible to separate them statistically.

Opera is the slowest of the lot, which surprises me. Opera was also slowest in the start-up test. Perhaps though we should cut it some slack – it’s labelled alpha after all. Performance might improve when it reaches beta and final status. Opera also has a turbo feature in the works, but that is kind of cheating since it will lower image quality by tougher compression.

Obviously, this test could be made better in mainly two ways. I could test on more web sites, and I could do more page loads for each web site. But this test was, all in all, 500 timed page-loads and 500 non-timed page-loads. It took me more than a day to complete.

It’s also worth noting that this test is pretty much consistent with Betanews’ page load test, where Chrome 2 beta wins and Firefox 3.1 beta 3 is second.

This test was done with clean browser cache. I’m considering doing the same test but without clearing cache and cookies for each page load. After all, that’s how most page loads are done in the real world. A user who visits any of these five sites will most likely have been there many, many times before. I just need to figure out a good set-up for such a test.

Wednesday, March 25th 2009

Beta Browser Battle: Start-up Times

A few days ago I compared the four different releases of Firefox for start-up time (cold and warm) and page loading time. It got quite a lot of attention so today I decided to compare the five latest preview releases from the big five:

  • Firefox 3.1 beta 3
  • Safari 4 beta
  • Internet Explorer 8 (since there is no IE9 beta)
  • Opera 10 alpha
  • Chrome 2 beta

This time I did things a little more scientifically, following Justin’s suggestion in the comments. I made a batch file for each browser to print the exact time, then launch the browser, opening a page with a script showing the exact time again. The time difference equals the launching time.

It should be noted that this method requires me to opt out of Chrome’s default “new tab” page, with suggested sites. If this affects the results in any real way is unknown, but personally I doubt it. The new tab page in Chrome loads very quickly.

Cold start-ups (directly after booting your computer) are the ones that can feel like an eternity some times. For that reason I think it is more important to have a fast cold start-up than a relatively speaking fast warm one (which generally are about 5-10 times faster anyway). So let’s start with cold start-ups.

I did ten measurements for each browser. A fairly big sample size which gives tiny 99% confidence intervals, which are visible in the graph below.

Graph showing cold start-up times for Firefox 3.1 beta 3, Chrome 2 beta, Safari 4 beta, Opera 10 alpha and Internet Explorer 8.

IE8 is the winner here (2.40 secs), slightly faster than Chrome (2.66 secs). All browsers are, with a 99% probability, significantly different (none are tied). However, this comparison was done on my Windows (XP) computer so IE8 has an unfair advantage – who knows how large part of Internet Explorer is pre-loaded with the operating system? That makes Chrome’s performance all the more impressive.

Safari is marginally faster than Firefox (4.98 vs 5.19 secs). Surprisingly, Opera (7.14 secs) is roughly two seconds slower than Firefox and Safari. I actually thought it would be at least as fast.

Now let’s have a look at warm start-up times. I launched the browsers four times before starting the timing. Then I did 15 measurements for each browser.

Graph showing warm start-up times for Firefox 3.1 beta 3, Chrome 2 beta, Safari 4 beta, Opera 10 alpha and Internet Explorer 8.

Here, Chrome is in a league of its own with an average of 0.247 secs. Firefox and Opera are tied. They took on average 0.530 and 0.531 secs respectively, and their confidence intervals overlap. IE8 averaged 0.575 seconds and Safari came in last with 0.617 seconds.


Chrome impresses the most, even if IE8 launches slightly faster after reboot. Firefox and Safari are pretty similar, while Opera clearly is the slowest for cold start-ups.

These results really explain (and justify) Chrome’s good reputation for speed.

I’m curious if the differences are as large when it comes to page-loading. I’m planning on doing such a comparison too, I just need to work out a good solid method. So stay tuned if you like this kind of stuff.

Monday, March 23rd 2009

Firefox 3 Is Overtaking IE7 in Europe

Firefox 3 is quickly becoming the most popular browser in Europe. At the moment StatCounter shows it to be just a about half a percentage point below Internet Explorer 7.

Graph showing Firefox 3 and IE7 usage in Europe

Above is a graph showing what has happened since July 2008. Within one or a couple of weeks now, Firefox 3 should have passed IE7. This can be compared to North America where IE7 still has roughly twice as many users as Firefox 3. (Let’s not talk about Asia, where IE6 still is king.)

Friday, March 20th 2009

Microsoft (Isn’t) Lying About IE8 CSS 2.1 Compliance

Microsoft boldly claims

We believe that IE8 has the first complete implementation of CSS 2.1 in the industry and it is fully compliant with the current CSS 2.1 test suite.

Jason Upton

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t the following CSS 2.1 tests look very much like fails in IE8 (and Firefox btw):

CSS 2.1 test suite test

CSS 2.1 test suite test

CSS 2.1 test suite test

CSS 2.1 test suite test

As I said, if I have misunderstood something, like for instance if the above tests aren’t considered part of the CSS 2.1 test suite, or if they for some reason should be ignored, do correct me. But if not, it seems like Microsoft are somewhat exaggerating IE8’s capabilities in the CSS 2.1 area.

Edit: Removed a few of the tests which turned out to be fails because I had ClearType activated.

Edit 2: Arron Eicholz of Microsoft has explained to me that the above fails are due to faulty tests. That would explain why Firefox also fails them.

Saturday, March 7th 2009

Safari and Chrome are JavaScript Speedfreaks

I decided to have a go at comparing JavaScript execution speed in some upcoming browsers. Actually, that’s just almost true. The version of Chrome that I tested was 1.0 which obviously is a final release. There is no newer alpha or beta release from them at the moment. (As far as I can see.)

The tested browsers are (all on Windows XP):

  • Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate 1
  • Firefox 3.1 beta 2 (which will become 3.5)
  • Safari 4 beta
  • Opera 10 alpha
  • Chrome

I tested the browsers with two different benchmark suites. Google’s V8 and Apple’s SunSpider.

So, lets get straight to the results:

Graph showing results for pre-release versions of Opera, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Chrome for the Google V8 JavaScript Benchmark.

As you can see, I have normalized all the results for both tests so that the winner of each test gets exactly 100. This is to make a comparison possible between the two benchmarks.

I ran all benchmarks three times in each browser to get more reliable averages.

Graph showing results for pre-release versions of Opera, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Chrome for the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark.

Safari and Chrome are as tied as can be. They both get a total score of 193. Opera and Internet Explorer are both a lot slower than the two winners, with 38 and 24 respectively.

The interesting thing is that Firefox does so well with SunSpider (93), and so poorly with V8 (12). What is the big difference between these benchmarks? Not that I’d understand it if someone explained it to me …

Obviously there’s still room for improvement to Firefox’s JavaScript engine (currently known as TraceMonkey).

Wednesday, March 4th 2009

Statcounter releases global statistics

Statcounter have just launched a tool for graphing their global web traffic statistics.

Statcounter Global Screenshot

The interesting thing is that it puts Firefox at around 28 percent right now, while NetApplications measures Firefox to be roughly 21 percent.

I’m guessing that Statcounter to a greater extent is used by individuals on blogs and smaller websites than NetApplications measured sites. The personal sites get more visitors using their home computers where they to a higher degree use Firefox (than at work).

Statcounter says Internet Explorer has a mere 63 percent, which equals 2.25 IE users per Firefox user. Pretty cool how much has changed since 2004.

Slowly but surely.

Friday, February 20th 2009

Good stuff

Aftonbladet, the largest online news site in Sweden, is reminding IE6 users to upgrade to something better:

Screenshot of IE6 warning note.

This couldn’t have happened too soon. Apparently, this is a campaign that started in Norway.

Monday, February 16th 2009


Microsoft have done it again.

Did anyone really think they had turned good?

Thursday, January 29th 2009

A few thoughts on IE8 RC 1

I have just downloaded and installed the upgrade from Internet Explorer 8 beta 2 to release candidate 1.

Internet Explorer 8 logo

The installation required restarting the computer twice. The second time Windows didn’t get further than the welcome screen, so I had to restart a third time.

Some thoughts about IE8 RC 1 then:

  • It definitely feels faster than beta 2. It seems load quite a bit faster and new tabs open faster too. My installation of Firefox doesn’t start up as quickly (which might have something to do with the 14 extensions + 1 theme I use), but it opens tabs much faster. Instantly even.
  • The IE team claim full compatibility with CSS 2.1. That’s great news and a huge leap forward for the IE rendering engine. Web designers will still miss some of the CSS 3 goodies that Firefox and Safari have put out recently though. Rounded borders and transparent colours come to mind.
  • Internet Explorer 8 has quite a few new features that I covered in my review of beta 2. But not much seems to have happened in the way of features for RC 1.
  • JavaScript performance seems to have improved quite a bit from beta 2. Firefox 3.1 beta 2 runs the Sunspider benchmark more than four times as quickly though.

To sum up: Nice improvements made by the IE team, but it’s a shame for web designers that we still won’t be able to use rounded borders and semi-transparent colours.

Thursday, October 2nd 2008, Try Sticking to the Facts

I read this article over at (Google translation) I was so annoyed by the factual errors and speculation I felt I had to write something.

The article tries to give the current standings in the browser wars. But like many other articles on it is full of holes and guesswork.

Here’s what got me annoyed (translated from Swedish):

There are studies that, although financed by Microsoft, show that Firefox is more often subject so security issues than Internet Explorer because Firefox is released in new versions more often.

First – basic rules of journalism. If a study is paid for by a player in the game then it most likely gives a skewed view of reality. (If Internet Explorer really were safer, Microsoft wouldn’t have to pay someone to come to that conclusion.)

Second – basic rules of software development. That argument is so obviously flawed and backwards I can’t see how anyone could possibly buy it let alone publish it.

… since Google now has a browser of their own they aren’t investing as much in Mozilla when it comes to browsers.

Umm, didn’t Google just renew their deal with Mozilla? This time for three years instead of two.

The biggest advantage for Internet Explorer 8 is its market share, which is at around 75 percent.

Let me say umm again. IE7 and IE6 currently have roughly 35 percent each. If IE8 is going to be deployed or downloaded as slowly as IE7 then it will take many years before it has 75 percent market share.

On a side note: Microsoft really should push their new browsers harder via auto-update systems for the benefit of the web.

Apple’s web browser Safari is usually said to be the third largest, but it isn’t really in the same competition as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.

That is mainly because Apple isn’t doing as much to create solutions for running applications in the web browser as the competitors.

Wassatagain? Safari 4 will let the user create icons in the operating system as shortcuts for web apps. Are they saying Internet Explorer is doing this too? That would be news to me. (Although I’m not really a big fan of this feature myself, it feels like a step back.)

And what about the Acid3 test? Safari 4 will pass it with flying colours, before any other browser. That’s a big deal for app developers if I’ve understood things correctly.

Furthermore, the Javascript engine in IE8 is embarrassingly slow compared to the competition.

Mozilla’s representatives also claim that the finished version of Tracemonkey, the company’s Javascript platform, will blow Google out of the water.

Another typically journalistic exaggeration. Mozilla may have said Tracemonkey will be faster, but they have never said that it will be that much faster. They will still be in the same league.

All in all, a pretty typical article from IDG.

Tuesday, September 16th 2008

IE8 and max-width

Internet Explorer 8 beta 2 is behaving pretty strange when it comes to max-width. (And min-width?) It seems to cope with it sometimes, and sometimes not.

It passes the Acid2 test (which tests both min/max width/height). It also seems to cope perfectly well with this test page.

So why doesn’t it cope with the max-width rule I have in the CSS of this blog? I haven’t managed to work it out anyway. IE8 b2 doesn’t obey my rule that says paragraphs should be a maximum of 30 em units wide.

I have tried debugging the behaviour by changing various factors in the stylesheets but nothing seems to help. If anyone happens to know about this bug, please leave a comment.

Edit: I finally found the reason for max-width not working. This blog used the XHTML strict doctype which IE8 doesn’t understand. Now I have changed it for the HTML 5 doctype and it works beautifully.

Thursday, August 28th 2008

Quick Review of IE8 beta 2

IE8 about dialog

I just downloaded IE8 beta 2 and gave it a quick spin. Here are my first impressions, starting with the good:

  • The new tab grouping & colouring feature is nice. Hopefully someone will make a Firefox extension to replicate this behaviour. (I can’t seem to find one today.)
  • The private browsing feature is great. Firefox 3 should have had this by default. (At least two Firefox extensions exist that do this.)
  • The Accelerators feature is good and exists as a Firefox extension: Context Search.

Then a few good things where IE8 has caught up with the competition:

  • It passes the Acid2 test and now renders the web in a much more standards compliant way.
  • It has a Find bar and not a Find window that constantly gets in the user’s way.
  • It restores crashed sessions.
  • It lets you restore closed tabs.
  • It has an improved Fullscreen mode, à la Firefox 3.

The bad is that my main reasons to avoid Internet Explorer are still there:

  • Opening a new tab still feels as slow as beating an elephant to death with a USB stick. The funny thing is that the IE team mock Mozilla et al for working with improvements on the millisecond scale, while they themselves still have improvements to make on the whole second scale.
  • The menu-buttons to the right are slow as well.
  • I still can’t rearrange the toolbars and buttons as I would like to. Which equals a step back to Netscape 6.
  • Ctrl+L still brings up the stupid open dialog instead of just focusing the location bar.

It remains to be seen if they can improve the tab-opening performance enough for the final release. I’m guessing they won’t. (Enough in this case would be as fast as Firefox 3, which on my 3200+ AMD opens tabs instantly.)