Browsing around

Internet Explorer 8 was released on Thursday but I have to admit that I haven’t touched it. The last beta that I saw (which wasn’t that long ago) still identified itself as being IE7 in the about dialog but there have been a lot of improvements made over previous version. There are new features too: increased performance, “porn mode” private browsing, data accelerators and improved crash recovery (here’s an idea: try and not crash in the first place).

I have an issue with the first sentence of Wired’s First Look review. Internet Explorer is not the most popular web browser in the world. It is simply the most widely used.

Looking at the IE8 page of the Microsoft website doesn’t bode well for Microsoft’s claims of paying attention to standards compliance or maybe this doesn’t apply to all aspects of their work. Of course, there’s also the __VIEWSTATE nonsense that results from coding your pages with .NET and in this case the hidden form field value is a whopping 68KB which is included in any request.

On visiting the page I was prompted to upgrade the Microsoft Silverlight plugin. I first installed this purely for CNN’s Photosynth of Obama’s inauguration two months ago. The Silverlight 2 GDR1 upgrade was released one month ago which just goes to show you just how low the adoption rate has been from the slew of websites I visit.

Silverlight isn’t the only threat to Adobe’s Flash dominance. Emergent technology like HTML5 and CSS3 Chrome experiments that are being supported in modern browsers like Google Chrome and Apple’s Safari are being used with JavaScript to achieve some promising results. Competition is good.

Speaking of Safari, the browser was also in the tech news on Thursday but for the wrong reasons. Safari was the first to fall to a serious vulnerability – albeit with several hours of preparatory work. IE8 and Firefox fell soon afterward. Chrome was the only browser to resist the attentions of the hackers. Interestingly, there was no mention of Opera. Does it really have that insignificant share of the browser market that nobody wants to try and exploit it?

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