Although Microsoft had been saying as late as the summer that it expected to release version 8 of Internet Explorer by the end of the year, it looks like we will have to wait until 2009 to see it.
In a blog post on the IEBlog site, Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Internet Explorer, gave an update on the status of IE8, noting that Microsoft has been listening to feedback from users and is working to complete the technology.
Microsoft released IE8 beta 2 in August and, according to Hachamovitch, "will release one more public update of IE8 in the first quarter of 2009, and then follow that up with the final release. Our next public release of IE (typically called a 'release candidate') indicates the end of the beta period. We want the technical community of people and organizations interested in Web browsers to take this update as a strong signal that IE8 is effectively complete and done. They should expect the final product to behave as this update does. We want them to test their sites and services with IE8, make any changes they feel are necessary for the best possible customer experience using IE8, and report any critical issues (e.g., issues impacting robustness, security, backwards compatibility, or completeness with respect to planned standards work). Our plan is to deliver the final product after listening for feedback about critical issues."
However, Hachamovitch said Microsoft will be selective about any changes made to the IE code. "We will be very selective about what changes we make between the next update and final release," he said. "We will act on the most critical issues. We will be super clear about product changes we make between the update and the final release."
Indeed, the IE team takes feedback from its developer and user community very seriously. Said Hachamovitch:
""Since the release of Beta 2, the team has been absorbed in the data we get from real people about the product. We have combed through instrumentation of over 20 million IE sessions and hundreds of hours of usability lab sessions. Together with IE MVPs, we have scrutinized thousands of threads from user forums and examined the issues that people are raising (not to mention all the times users opt to "Report a Webpage Problem..."). We have also spent hundreds of hours listening and answering questions in meetings with partners and other important organizations. We simply could not deliver IE8 the way our customers and developers want us to without all this information." "