Microsoft Ships IE 8 Beta

Microsoft ships a beta of Internet Explorer 8 with browser interoperability in mind.

LAS VEGAS-Microsoft showed the first public beta of its Internet Explorer 8 browser at its MIX show here on March 5, and announced that the technology is available for download by developers.

Internet Explorer 8 is the next version of Microsoft's popular browser, and in Beta 1 it delivers significantly improved standards support and developer platform investments with enhanced user experiences, according to Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of Microsoft's .Net Developer Division.

Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of the Internet Explorer team at Microsoft, said IE 8 Beta 1 delivers increased interoperability, offers developers better predictability when designing sites, and will feature full support for CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) 2.1 when released to manufacturing.

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 includes integrated developer tools for quickly debugging HTML, CSS and scripts in a visual environment. Moreover, two new features, Activities and WebSlices, are intended to enable developers to reach beyond the page and introduce new ways for users to stay connected to the content and services of their choice. Developers can download IE 8 Beta 1 here.

"Our goal is to deliver complete, full CSS 2.1 support in the final IE 8 product," Hachamovitch said.

To provide improved standards support and in an attempt to make developers' jobs easier, Hachamovitch said, Microsoft has contributed more than 700 test cases to the World Wide Web Consortium's CSS working group, "because we think a comprehensive certification test suite for CSS is important for true interoperability and we support the W3C's effort to deliver such a suite."

Microsoft has delivered better scripting performance in IE 8, has started delivering support for HTML5 and has delivered "the first installment of great, built-in developer tools" for the IE 8 browser, Hachamovitch said.

In addition, "We've delivered a better way for Web services to integrate into the user's workflow" with the Activities feature, Hachamovitch said. For example, a user can select text on a Web page and map it, blog it, look for it or just act on it without having to copy it, open a new tab, navigate to another site and paste, Hachamovitch said.

Microsoft also announced at MIX the beta of Silverlight 2. Click here to read more.

"We made the OpenService Format specification available under the Microsoft Open Specification Promise and the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license. ... We've delivered a better way for Web services to enable their users to keep an eye on interesting parts of a Web page within the browser with WebSlices," Hachamovitch said.

With WebSlices, developers can make parts of their pages "subscribable ... with just a little mark-up, and users can easily subscribe and keep an eye on information-like their social network, an auction or a sports score-within the browser, even when users are not at the developer's site. We've made the WebSlice Format specification available under the Microsoft Open Specification Promise and are dedicating copyright in the specification to the public domain using the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication," he said.

In addition, Hachamovitch quipped that IE 8 has fixed the "back button" as it relates to AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML.)

"One theme I hope developers notice here is interoperability," Hachamovitch said. "The team understands how big an impact differences between browsers-and previous versions of IE in particular-have had on developers in terms of wasted time, frustration and, in some cases, limiting the experience that they deliver to users.

"We want to deliver a big step forward in real-world interoperability for developers with IE 8, and standards are at the core of our approach."