IE 8.0 – First Impressions and Rendering
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.
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.
Gmail – Renders OK, very fast. I couldn’t find any issue with Gmail at all.
Microsoft Exchange 2003 OWA – Works 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.com – Works. 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 Panel – Does 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 Downloads – Sorta 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.
FFXI Auction House – Does 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.
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.
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.