IE 8 will be secure, not sexy

Microsoft released the second beta of Internet Explorer 8 last week, and although a lot of its new features aren't exactly new to other browsers, the increased feature list does suggest that Redmond hasn't given up on the browser market just yet

Tags: BrowserDesktopsMicrosoft Corporation
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By  Mark Sutton Published  August 31, 2008

Microsoft released the second beta of Internet Explorer 8 last week, and although a lot of its new features aren't exactly new to other browsers, the increased feature list does suggest that Redmond hasn't given up on the browser market just yet.

The beta 2 includes some more tab features - including colour coded tabs and sorting of tabs to make using them easier - and also the ability to use the address bar to search (just like in Firefox) but most interestingly is the wealth of added security features that are included.

While having a feature in a beta doesn't always mean its going to end up in the finished product, so far IE 8 has a strong enough set of security features that could steal ground against some of its competitors. Included in the beta is SmartScreen filter, to protect against malware, data execution prevention, cross-site scripting filter, to prevent unauthorised code being run without the users knowledge, and settings to enable ActiveX to be configured just for those users and pages that are desired.

IE 8 also comes with 'InPrivate' browsing, a browser mode that will open a separate window that won't record URLs, passwords or cookies. Some commentators have branded InPrivate browsing as just a tool for surfing 'adult' sites, but its likely to prove useful for accessing online banking or similar sites where you don't want data being recorded on the PC.

The new feature set is probably not going to be a massive draw to get Firefox fans to switch to Microsoft, but these features do represent a serious focus on security, which could win Microsoft some supporters, or at least not lose it any ground.

For corporate IT departments, the familiarity of Internet Explorer but with added security will mean less inclination to look elsewhere for a more secure browser, and for the millions of less tech savvy users that use Internet Explorer by default, any improvement to their security can only be a good thing.

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