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Warning This article was written over six months ago, and may contain outdated information.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