Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate 1 (IE8 RC1): New Features, New Problems
Article by George Norman
On 28 Jan 2009
Just as rumored, Microsoft has made IE 8 RC1 available for download as of this week, and the browser boasts some impressing new features such as enhanced security, new add-ons, and private browsing; there are also some new problems, like the fact that the brand new clickjacking protection feature is not all its cracked up to be, and the fact that installing IE8 RC1 can go awry on Windows XP Service Pack 3.

“We're excited to make the IE8 Release Candidate available today for public download today in 25 languages for Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Windows Server customers. The technical community should expect the final IE8 release to behave as the Release Candidate does. The IE8 product is effectively complete and done,” says General Manager for Internet Explorer, Dean Hachamovitch.


According to Microsoft, there are three things that you should expect from this release of IE8: you can expect IE8 RC1 to provide an enhanced level of online browsing security, you can expect it to be more reliable, compatible and more performance oriented, and you can expect the IE development team not to add any more features or significantly modify the browser with IE8 Final. Here is a quick list of IE8 RC1 features: tabbed browsing and tab isolation (if one tab crashes it will not crash the browser altogether), use the search engine of your choice, clickjacking protection, InPrivate Browsing, InPrivate Filtering, SmartScreen phishing filter, Compatibility mode which lets you view a web page just as you would in IE7, WebSlices lets you track specific items on a web page, accelerators (the new add-ons), Smart Address Bar, and increased browsing speed.

If you have already put the Beta versions of IE8 to the test, and if you have Automatic Updates turned on, then the browser will upgrade automatically – all you have to do is agree with the update notification, you no longer have to manually uninstall previous IE8 versions from your machine. If you are running Windows XP Service Pack 3, there is one situation that could prove to be troublesome. If you have installed IE 8 Beta and later on you installed XP SP3, you will be able to upgrade to IE8 RC1, just that you will never be able to uninstall SP3 and IE8. To prevent this situation from occurring, you should first uninstall SP3, uninstall IE8 Beta, re-install SP3 and then install IE8 RC1.

From a security and performance point of view, it must be stated that IE 8 RC1 is faster and safer than the Betas and than IE7. The catch is that the much talked about clickjacking feature, which Senior Product Manager with IE, James Pratt described as a means for a hacker to track what info the user accesses while visiting a certain web page, is not exactly efficient. Robert Hansen, CEO of the SecTheory said that Microsoft is taking a step in the right direction by addressing the problem of clickjacking, but IE8 RC1 does not completely address the issue, it is just “a vaguely mitigating factor for the very few people who use IE8”. The second catch is that IE8 RC 1 is indeed faster than IE7 and IE8 Beta, but it falls short compared to Mozilla Firefox 3.1 Beta , Opera 10 Alpha, and Google Chrome 2.0.

If you would like to get Internet Explorer Release Candidate 1, a download location is available here.

Tags: Microsoft, Internet Explorer, IE 8 RC1
About the author: George Norman
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