A close look at Microsoft’s Internet Explorer

In case you had not noticed, Microsoft unleashed Internet Explorer 8 onto the cyber world this month, which brought with it some good news and bad.

In case you had not noticed, Microsoft unleashed Internet Explorer 8 onto the cyber world this month, which brought with it some good news and bad.

Version 8, which has been awaited for more than a year, came with little fanfare by Microsoft standards.

The downside from a business perspective is many corporate PCs ended up getting the “upgrade” thanks to overzealous employees and many legacy business applications immediately broke because they were not designed to work with it.

That aside, IE8 is not a bad product.

It’s no Firefox, which remains my favourite browser by far.

But it is a step ahead and a step up for Microsoft.

It includes a new feature called Accelerators, which makes it lots easier to copy information from a webpage to another source, like Hotmail, LiveSearch or a word-processing document (not that you’re cheating on your homework or anything.)

If you don’t want to use the feature you don’t have to, the old copy and paste method still works.

Another feature is “InPrivate” browsing, something sure to annoy parents beyond belief, which allows users to browse without leaving traces on the computer where the user has been.

Microsoft defends this by saying a wife may want to buy something online for a husband and would not want him to find traces of the search (snort) but we all know what this is for.

Some other browsers, including Google’s Chrome, offer the same thing.

But keep in mind this is not the same as an anonymous proxy; your computer’s unique IP address will still be logged by the receiving Web sites.

Parents can and still should employ parental control software on any Internet connected computer (and now that it is free there is no excuse, head to k9webprotection.com) but private browsing still is going to raise an uproar if parents understand what is going on.

There are a lot of other smaller features in IE8 that are worth trying. If you have a home computer of recent vintage and use IE7 as your browser there is no real reason not to upgrade. If you hate it you can always uninstall it from the Windows Control Panel using ADD/REMOVE PROGRAMS.

In unscientific tests, I found few websites that didn’t work well with 8; the CNBC site looked funky until I got a plug-in as did the FoxNews website but both worked fine after the reload. My bank’s site didn’t work but they are dinosaurs and are barely out of the ice age anyway.

The site displayed OK but had some overlapping text.

Performance-wise I didn’t notice much difference than IE7 but I confess I am very comfortable with Firefox at home at this point.

At work I use IE6 or IE7 almost all day and the move to IE8 at home really didn’t mean any big changes for me either in performance or having to think how to do anything differently or rethink any menus or toolbars.

Give it a try. Download it from www.microsoft.com if you have a gig or RAM or more you should see fine performance on XP or Vista.

James Derk is owner of CyberDads, a computer repair firm.