Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 Test drive

I was reading about the new features of Internet Explorer 8 on Sizlopedia and decided to give it a test drive myself. I haven’t really used IE since the days of Windows 2000, when version 5.5 came out, so it took a while to get used to the new interface even though it debuted in IE 7. And since I am not accustomed to this browser, I will not debate on its features and improvements, nor I will compare it with Firefox or Apple Safari right now as it is at an early stage. Instead the main focus of this article would be the web surfing experience I got from this browser. I tested it on some of the most commonly visited websites and documented my experience on them.

First of all though, I checked out its memory footprint. For some reason, iexplorer.exe creates another instance of iexplorer.exe which draws the main windows form, and it also requires ctfmon.exe to run. The total IE 8 Process tree takes about 76 MB of memory, which is not a big memory footprint for a Web Browser these days. Interestingly, though I had Firefox running at the time I recorded this with the same website open, and it only takes about 58.5 MB.

The Footprint is relatively higher than that of Firefox, or IE 7.

The Footprint is relatively higher than that of Firefox, or IE 7.

Facebook

The new Facebook was recently released for Internet Explorer users this Tuesday and reportedly provided the same level of functionality as provided on the Mozilla-based browsers. When I loaded Facebook, everything looked fine in the new version. There were no drawing glitches and the CSS rendered the same on Internet Explorer as it did on Firefox. Unfortunately, Facebook only looks good on IE. Most of the AJAX on Facebook doesn’t work, including Facebook chat, notifications, translator and wall. I had a very hard time just trying to update my status, a mission I ended up failing.

AJAX Doesn't work for Facebook, disabling most of its functionality.

AJAX Doesn't work on Facebook rendering it almost useless

Yahoo Mail!

The Yahoo! Home page took a bit of time to render, but once it did, I experienced no problems. Flash, and AJAX interweaving looked great and all the features of the page were fully functional. Upon approaching the New Yahoo! Mail, I was greeted with a very much expected browser incompatibility message, which I chose to ignore. As with the parent site, Ymail also took a little longer to load, especially the chat module, but once loaded, it worked as smoothly as it would on any other browser. In fact, in my opinion, it was looking a bit better than Firefox.

The Yahoo! Main Page takes time to load but runs smoothly

The Yahoo! Main Page takes time to load but runs smoothly

You would get this warning when opening Yahoo! Mail

You would get this warning when opening Yahoo! Mail

Despite the warning, Yahoo! Mail works fine

Despite the warning, Yahoo! Mail works fine

Gmail

Gmail had lots of trouble loading, and I had to go through several refresh cycles to get it into a working state. And by that I mean I was able to navigate a bit. Random glitches occurred while GTalk wasn’t responsive at all. The Google Reader was working fine, which suggests that IE mostly has trouble working with AJAX other than ASP.NET Extensions.

Gmail also has some issues

Gmail also has some issues

YouTube

YouTube, quite frankly, was a mess. It loaded in time, looked fine but I couldn’t get anything to work without turning on compatibility mode. The only advantage IE takes on YouTube is that Flash Player 9 Update 4 doesn’t crash here like it does on Mozilla based browsers, meaning that we can actually use the latest Flash Player available from Adobe. Insight was working fine, albeit a little slow, while videos with annotations or captions took a while longer to load.

YouTube has problems rendering on IE 8

YouTube has problems rendering on IE 8

The CSS and AJAX break the page

The CSS and AJAX break the page

Gamespot

Bad news for Gamespot users! The new version of Gamespot, Gamespot Wide doesn’t work on IE 8 without turning on compatibility mode. This means we are stuck with the old version of the site until Microsoft figure out a way to get the AJAX problem fixed. One thing notable here is that the anti-aliasing and effects looked a lot better, most probably due to the fact that IE 8 fully utilizes the ClearType rendering.

Gamespot Beta doesn't fully work either

Gamespot Beta doesn

Wikipedia

Wikipedia never truly supported Internet Explorer, so it wasn’t a surprise to me when most of my Wiki tools and plug-ins broke up. This shouldn’t be a problem to the casual reader though as they only have to see text and images rendered via CSS with minimal JavaScript, though Wikipedia uses Mozilla specifications for CSS to draw most of its components, including borders. As I stated before, JavaScript based plug-ins didn’t work at all rendering the site completely useless if forced to run, and at one point, they even crashed the browser.

Wikipedia appears normal

Wikipedia appears normal

However its CSS isn't fully compatible

However its CSS isn't fully compatible

Plugins also break the site up

Plugins also break the site up

Acid Compatibility

In the end, I decided to put this new browser through the ACID3 compatibility test. The results were horrifying, as the testing engine failed the browser just as it started. I ran it through the test numerous times and got an average test score of 13 (pretty unlucky for Microsoft) which was the lowest score for an ACID3 test I had ever seen. This explains IE’s inability to render AJAX, which is primarily based on JavaScript and Asynchronous callbacks to an XML web service.

Surprisingly Low ACID3 Score

Surprisingly Low ACID3 Score

Conclusion

This brings my test drive of the browser to a screeching stop as it was unable to expose the full functionality of most of my favorite sites. I didn’t take the browser to Flickr or Last.fm yet, but I am not expecting much from this build. In comparison to Internet Explorer 7, this version is only a few steps back so it wont be too much to say that this may just be the most stable iteration of Microsoft browser to date, and hope fully, things would only get better. I encourage you to give it a try too, and share you’re experiences here, as different machine and operating system architectures have dynamic impact on performance.

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7 Responses to “Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 Test drive”

  1. DjFlush Says:

    A very fine and detailed review. Enjoyed it!

  2. UzEE Says:

    Thanks. You inspired me to write this.

  3. oggie Says:

    good review but i should have read this before i downloaded IE 8, how can i change IE 8 to IE 7?

  4. Firefox gets Ubiquity « UzEE’s Journal Says:

    […] set for a tough competitive season. Apple is getting ready to Launch Safari 4, while Microsoft is testing its newest iteration of Internet Explorer. And now Google has also jumped into the competition head on by launching Google Chrome. Needless […]

  5. inregistrare domenii Says:

    IE 8 sucks, i cant see flash in Google Analytics either….

  6. Ton Walter Zermeño Says:

    Thanks. I can confirm that with IE8 beta2 my Wikipedia searches fail to display, and the browser crashes repeatedly. Regards.

  7. http://dream-analysis.org Says:

    I have been browsing online more than three hours today, but I never discovered any fascinating article like yours. It is lovely worth sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all website owners and bloggers made good content material as you did, the net will probably be a lot more useful than ever before.


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