Internet Explorer 8 (Beta 1) review

Improvements and additions elsewhere are thin on the ground, or simply catch-up copycat features. As mentioned above, the toolbar has had a bit of a makeover, but it’s more a lick of paint than a complete replastering job. It’s been renamed – from Links to Favorites bar. You can now add those WebSlices and also news feeds, which are dynamic dropdown menus, just like Firefox’s Live Bookmarks system.

There’s an improved phishing filter and also ACR – IE8’s new automatic crash-recovery system – which will restore your tabs up after a crash, and it worked well during the few days we’ve spent using it. But it’s hard to get excited about a feature that’s been standard in Firefox ages, and IE still has a way to catch up with Firefox’s sheer polish when it comes to tabs, or other features for that matter.

There’s still nothing like that browser’s restore closed tab feature, and in IE tabs can’t be closed until you switch to them or right click them. IE8 still doesn’t have a download manager like Firefox’s or Opera’s, and the find tool, which has been crying out for attention since Firefox first burst on the scene, has been ignored yet again.

It’s early days yet for IE8, so we’ll hold off from a full-blown verdict just now, but it looks as if Microsoft is going to have to pull something pretty magical out of the hat to those who’ve moved over permanently to Firefox. Its new page-rendering engine is going to have to be something pretty special – we await developments with bated breath.

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