RC1 of Internet Explorer 8 Available

Microsoft on Monday announced that the Release Candidate 1 version of Internet Explorer 8 is now publicly available. The browser was previously released in beta form.

The Release Candidate version signifies "a call to action to the technical community" that "IE8 is effectively complete and done," according to Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Microsoft's Internet Explorer team, in an interview. He added that "developers should expect the final IE product to behave like the release candidate."

Microsoft provided few details about what changed with RC1. According to its team blog, the latest version of the browser includes some general performance improvements, plus added security to avoid clickjacking attempts.

An Internet Explorer Administration Kit is now available for download, according to the team blog, although the page link was still listing it as compatible with just the beta version at press time. Microsoft describes the kit as a management tool to help with overall browser customization.

Microsoft has been promoting standards compliance with IE8, particularly with regard to how cascading style sheets (CSS) and Web pages work with IE8, according to James Pratt, Microsoft's senior product manager for Internet Explorer.

"It's primarily the standards process by the W3C and…we focused a lot around [the] CSS 2.1 specification," he said. "One of things we tried to do there is drive that to a place where all browsers can say they are or are not compliant with CSS 2.1."

Developers can use IE8's compatibility view button to assess how their pages will look in the browser and add code to display pages in an older format, if necessary.

Pratt said that users can expect to see speed improvements in the RC1 version compared with IE8 Beta 2. The Internet Explorer team looked at real-world browser use in making their improvements. The team avoided making decisions on what to improve based solely on individual benchmarks, such as JavaScript performance, which turned out to be not so important for end users.

"We found that IE8 was spending about 20 percent of its time on JavaScript," Pratt said, "so 80 percent of the time was spent doing other things."

The RC1 version of IE8 is compatible with Windows Vista, Windows XP and Windows Server releases. It's not currently compatible with Microsoft's Windows 7 Beta operating system, which comes with its own version of IE8.

Testers using the beta versions of IE8 don't have to worry about uninstalling them first as the RC1 will install and remove those versions. Microsoft's Internet Explorer team lists some installation tips here. Internet Explorer RC1 can be downloaded now at Microsoft's IE page.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.