First impressions of IE8

Warning This article was written over six months ago, and may contain outdated information.

As just about everyone in the development community must know by now, Microsoft released a first Beta of IE8 today. I’ve been testing it for the last hour or so, and here are some notes I’ve made — the first of which is that this is really more of an Alpha than a Beta; there are a lot of bugs and errant behaviours.

One of the first things I noticed was that the browser comes with a limited set of development tools built in. They’re not well integrated, they’re not very extensive, and they’re not easy to use; but they’re there.

The user interface is obviously still under development, and currently looks almost exactly like IE7. The address bar highlights the domain name, which is a nice touch, and there is a big ‘Emulate IE7’ button, but otherwise no big differences.

Microsoft claim the browser will be completely CSS2.1 compatible on release, so I checked out two of the bigger omissions from IE7: generated content and table displays. Both are now working, which is pretty impressive. Update: CSS Improvements in IE8; outline is new, as is z‑index.

As for CSS3, I’ve written a little about that over at; in a nutshell: not much. Update: Interestingly, these are not listed in the CSS Improvements document; I wonder if there are any other undocumented changes?

For me, the biggest fault is the lack of SVG support. SVG is a mature standard now and well supported by all the other browsers, so for Microsoft not to implement it is a big blow; it effectively smothers the technology. Perhaps it will be included later; I really hope so.

Other observations from Al Billings, The Register (and again); Read/Write Web; more to follow.

1 comment on
“First impressions of IE8”

  1. Just downloaded and installed IE8rc1. I really hate the “Best viewed in …” thing, and thought it was a thing of the past. Alas — may have no choice but to bring it back.

    Or implement a whole IE theme.

    Very dissapointed.