IE 8.0 – First Impressions and Rendering

March 7, 2008

Unfortunately, I’m at home nursing the flu rather than living it up in Vegas at MIX08 so I’ve had to experience the fun vicariously through the thousands of blog posts, twitters, and videos of nearly every second of the event.

A big kick off revolved around the first Beta release of Internet Explorer 8.  Being adventuerous and well, not having anything else to do, I downloaded the x64 Vista version and have been hitting various web sites that I frequent to see how things look.

The IE Interface

Overall, IE 8 currently looks a LOT like IE7.  In fact, it takes a bit of hunting to find any differences what-so-ever.

The new “Favorites Bar” (or was that old) seems to be built to hold the new WebSlices, which I haven’t quite grasped yet (I don’t use eBay, sorry).

The Phishing Filter has been renamed the “Safety Filter”, which was immediately turned off.  I’m assuming Phishing was too difficult to explain (which is OK).  The concept is cool, I’m just not sure I want Microsoft being the “safe site” police.

Beyond that, I haven’t seen any other “changes”.  Let’s hope the real excitement is in the rendering.

Rendering

The tout of IE8 is it’s successful passing of Acid2, a standards-based rendering assessment.  Sadly, this is just in time for Acid3, which it not only doesn’t pass (nothing passes right now), but it does worse than most other “current” browsers only scoring a 17/100.

So, what about real sites?

Here are a few of the more common sites I visit and the results:

iGoogle – Renders OK, albeit VERY slowly.  Accuweather.com and del.icio.us web parts require mousing over the empty boxes to display their contents.  There is also a bunch of odd spacing at the top of the Gmail web part.

GmailRenders OK, very fast.  I couldn’t find any issue with Gmail at all.

Microsoft Exchange 2003 OWAWorks great, very fast. 

Microsoft SharePoint 2003 (SPS)Works very well.  Renders extremely fast from page to page.  Mouse overs, context menus, etc. seem to work even better than in IE7.  Hah.

Microsoft SharePoint 2007 (MOSS) Works.  Still requires “accepting” the “Name ActiveX Control”, which is REALLY annoying, but the site renders just fine.  Also renders a bit slow, but that’s just MOSS2007.😦

Weather.comWorks. A few positioning snafus, but everything is functional.  See image below.

Linkshell Fourms (built on VBulletin 3.6.8) – Works great.  The PHP-based forums work like a champ for my FFXI linkshell.  Thankfully!

Virtual Server 2005 R2’s Control PanelDoes not work.  Unfortunately, none of the menus work.  You cannot create/update/add anything or view the status of a running VM.  I can bounce back to IE7 emulation mode and it works OK.

MSDN Subscriber DownloadsSorta works.  I’m assuming the new version of this site will resolve these issues.  So far, the site “works”, but renders a bit funny when you move the frame bars around.

IE8 - FFXIAH

FFXI Auction HouseDoes not work.  The side navigation bar is covered up and inaccessible.  Without that, it’s almost impossible to browse through the site (searching for EVERYTHING gets a bit tedious). See image to the right.

Twitter.com – Sorta sometimes works.  The functionality of the site is there, but the background and themes to the site are a bit haywire.  And updates aren’t being processed without a logout/login.  Ehh, odd.

WordPress – Does not work.  For some reason, the wp-admin console simply blanks the page out.  There’s a brief flash of it rendering, and then poof, just white.  I can View Source and see the code, refresh and see the flash, but haven’t been able to fix this one without dropping back to IE7 mode.

My Blog (Freshy Theme)Sorta works. Well, this blog doesn’t render right either.  The Search bar at the top right of the screen is covered up and missing the [Search] button.  The right-hand bar no longer trails to the end of the page, but stops at the end of the content (assuming the height:100% failure), The main body footer is now the footer to the right-hand bar.  There are a few other z-index issues here and there, but those can be fixed (I’m assuming).

My Photo Site Does not work.  Hmm, sucks.  Unfortunately, the menus doesn’t work.  Well, let me reword that, they work, but if you try to move from the Parent Menu to a Child Menu item, the menu disappears.  I’m assuming it’s a spacing issue for the mouse overs, but I’m not sure.  Ugh.

Random sites – I noticed most sites that I authenticated to, the hash out for the password turned up as an invalid character.  See below.

Things I Wish It Had

NoScript.  I really like FireFox’s NoScript plug in—especially with all the shakeup and paranoia regarding compromised accounts in FFXI.  I wish IE had something similar built directly into the browser.

Built-in support for social bookmarking.  Does anyone use Favorites or Bookmarks anymore?  I totally rely on del.icio.us and would LOVE to see better support for that in IE8.  I don’t want an annoying button that was put out by Yahoo, I want to open an Explorer Panel (like my Favorites) and see the heirarchy of my tags.

Conclusions

Well, for Beta 1, it’s not half bad.  It starts up instantly, looks clean, and appears to integrate into Windows Vista just fine.  If a few of the odd rendering snafus can be addressed (either by releasing WHY it doesn’t work or tweaks to the rendering engine in IE), I look forward to the next release.

  1. March 8, 2008 at 12:43 am

    Nice overview, thanks.
    Regarding your comment: “….I want to open an Explorer Panel (like my Favorites) and see the heirarchy of my tags….”. Look at the second screenshot:

    http://blog.simpy.com/blojsom/blog/news/2007/10/16/4887F1AD3AE3BEF217CB180DDECC6661.html

    It’s for FF and it’s for Simpy, but it’s exactly what you said you wanted.

  2. March 8, 2008 at 1:08 am

    @Otis-

    Yeah, that’s very cool and close to what I’m looking for. I’m also inspired by:

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3615

    This is the actual FF plugin for del.icio.us and works exactly like how I’d hope something in IE worked.

  3. March 8, 2008 at 4:48 am

    Nice overview indeed!
    I tried Internet Explorer 8 myself and found an issue with Gmail. When I want to remove a mail, IE8 crashes. IE8 just restarts and the tab restores…

    Oww well, it’s still beta🙂

  4. March 8, 2008 at 9:41 am

    @Thomas-

    That’s REALLY odd. I just tried it (opened up an email, clicked Delete) and it removed it just fine. I’ll dink around a bit more and see if I can reproduce your error. Did you ever submit it to Connect?

  5. March 9, 2008 at 7:38 am

    I just checked Connect and there was somebody else with the same problem. In his case, the “Delete”-button did nothing…

    So I added a comment with my problem…
    I also checked Google Agenda and this also didn’t work as expected. Especially the AJAX parts…

  6. Roel
    August 28, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    Tried the beta, but I can’t login anymore to my OWA @ Home running Exchange 2003. The tab crashes and recovers and crashes and recovers and …

  7. August 29, 2008 at 9:06 am

    @Roel-

    Beta 1 or the new Beta 2?

    I live by OWA and haven’t had a single problem.

  8. Roel
    August 29, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Beta2

    I can remember when IE7 came out there was an Exchange2003-hotfix so that OWA would work in IE7. I searched @ Microsoft for something similar regarding IE8, but can’t find anything. I’m running (sorry, runned … ) IE8 Beta2 on Windows Vista Business SP1 fully patched with Microsoft Update. I tried my OWA from work also and that DID work with IE8! But I thought @ work it was running E2K7 and @ home it’s E2K3.

  9. Roel
    August 31, 2008 at 3:22 am

    On my SBS2003 Forms Based Authentication was enabled with compression setting to High.

    – When I disable FBA, iisreset, login, it works!
    – When I enable FBA, Compression None, iisreset, login, it works!
    – When I enable FBA, Compression Low, iisreset, login, it works!
    – When I enable FBA, Compression High, iisreset, login, it doesn’t work!

    So why the High-setting is causing the trouble, I really don’t have a clue.

    Hope this helps other people troubleshootig this problem🙂

  10. JB
    March 17, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    How did you get IE8 to work with OWA? I’m having difficulty? Thanks.

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