How Microsoft Enhanced IE8 Smart Address Bar: Performance and Control
Article by George Norman
On 15 Jun 2009
The final and stable version of Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) has been out there and available for download for about three months now, but it is just now that the development team behind the web browser shed some light into what they focused on when working on IE8’s Smart Address bar. According to Microsoft’s IE8 Team, it was the users who pushed the development of IE8 into the right direction; it was user feedback that got the IE8 development team to focus on two key areas, performance and control.

User Experience Program Manager with Internet Explorer, Seth McLaughlin, comments: “During the IE8 beta periods, we unveiled a bunch of exciting new changes to the address bar. Throughout the beta period, we observed how the feature was being used and listened to your feedback. Two major themes developed from this feedback: performance, and control. In Internet Explorer 8, we improved performance and provided greater control over what you see in YOUR address bar. We’d like to personally thank everyone for sharing their thoughts and opinions on the Beta 2 and RC1 releases – your feedback was invaluable for implementing these changes.”

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So what exactly does that mean? In terms of performance, the Smart Address bar has improved its performance by 50% on average and by over 90% in some specific cases. This is due to numerous changes that do not affect the actual behavior of the address bar, and changes that do alter the behavior of the address bar. From the latter category we mention the following:
- Typing a single character into the address bar brings up only web addresses you’ve typed before. Typed addresses are stored in the registry, and accessing the registry is quite a speedy process.
- When you type two or more characters in the address bar, you will be presented with results from previously typed addresses as well as results from history and favorites (which are indexed by Windows Search).

In terms of control, the Smart Address bar in Internet Explorer 8 comes with these enhancements and modifications:
- New settings in the AutoComplete Settings dialog.
- Feeds are turned off by default.
- The option to see more typed addresses in the Smart Address bar. “Turning off one address bar section (ex: feeds) will increase the number of typed addresses from 5 to 12,” explains McLaughlin. “If you decide you really just want typed addresses and turn off all the other sections, you will now see up to 25 typed addresses. Coupled with the change to turn feeds off by default, you will now see up to 12 typed addresses in the default case.”
- The Shift + Enter keyboard shortcut has been modified: it provides suggestions from typed addresses and comes with a noise-free, streamlined UI.
- The TAB behavior has been switched back to works just as it did in IE7 and similar products.

If you would like to get Internet Explorer 8, a download location is available here. Alternative download location here.
But if you are going to download IE8 anyway, you might as well do it from the Browser for the Better web page and help feed the hungry (details here).



Tags: Microsoft, Internet Explorer 8, IE 8, Smart Address bar
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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