Sadly for Microsoft, many of the newer features that are included with the latest build of IE8 are already found in many of the other browsers today. Looking at it on a more positive side though, these features will finally make their way to users that have faithfully stuck by Internet Explorer (if they upgrade, of course). Before we begin though, we like to point out that upgrading and installation can be somewhat of a hassle, as you'll have to do multiple reboots to get the the new browser installed. The other browsers we installed (Opera, Firefox 3, Chrome) didn't require us to reboot and were ready for use straight after installation.
But we digress, let's proceed onwards with a list of "new" and truly new features that the Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 build brings to the table for its users...
- Smart Address Bar and Visual Search
The Smart Address Bar will auto-complete URL entries for users based on previous surfing history and their bookmarks. This feature is already seen in Opera, Firefox 3 and Google Chrome. Unlike Chrome (which sends your keystroke data to a Google service) IE 8's version works similarly to Opera and Firefox 3, though it also features the ability to search your feeds. The search box also now does Visual Search (depending on where and what you're searching, and will display pictures if available).
- Enhanced Find on Page
Instead of popping up and blocking your view of the browser, the new Find button is found as a browser button that pops up whenever you activate the hot key. Again, there's nothing really "new" here so to speak. This feature is already present on the other browsers. It also now does highlighting and displaying number of hits.
- New Enhanced Tab Page
This is somewhat of an improvement, and IE has made it so you can easily browse previously closed tabbed pages, InPrivate browsing, or the Accelerator feature. IE gets props for this, it's definitely one up the current competition, though Chrome's new tab page does have its own unique charm.
Tab browsing too has gotten some love, as parent and child tabs now share a color for users to easily associate the pages. This idea is definitely a marked improvement over current implementations of the tabbed browsing system found on other browsers.
- Reopen Last Browsing Session
It did take them a while, but this feature finally makes its way to IE8, though it's already available on the other browsers in the market.
- Web Slices
Like pizza, IE 8 allows you to select content from web pages and put it in as a bookmark on the browser, though this requires the web page to support the function (we understand that Microsoft will be working with content providers to enable this function in time for their launch).
One of the more interesting things to spawn from the developers at the IE8 team is this new function which is basically an enhanced version of copy and paste. Highlighting a line of text and right clicking allows you to search the phrase through Microsoft applications like Windows Live Spaces, Encarta, Live Maps, Translate, or Email it. It's also possible for developers to add their own Accelerators into the browser, allowing for a much more diverse selection of choices, so you don't have to use the Microsoft defaults if you prefer.
Similar to Safari's Private Browsing mode and Google's Incognito mode, IE8's version functions the same way and leaves no trace of its presence when you're done surfing with it. Officially known as InPrivate, the function has also been called less respectable names (which we'll leave you to find out).