IE 8 Rears Its (somewhat less) Ugly Head

In the it’s-almost-here department, Internet Explorer, Microsoft’s ubiquitous crashware slug of a browser, is getting read to push out a new release. And despite my uncharitable description, I’m pretty hyped about it.

Its been a little over two years since 7 was released (October 2006), and Microsoft extended the beta period for 8, which has made it a bit late. But the good news is we’re probably only getting one release candidate before it goes gold.

So how does this brand new piece of Microsoft technology fair against its competitors? (Stats mostly from

Acid 3 Test (perfect = 100)
  • IE 8 RC 1: 20 (lost a point since the last beta)
  • Firefox 3.0.5: 96
  • Chrome: 100
Sunspider Javascript Performance (lower is better)
  • E8 RC1: 10311.8ms
  • Opera 9.63: 8647.0ms
  • Firefox 3.1 b2: 2257ms
  • Chrome 1.2: 2134.0ms
Memory Usage (lower is better)
  • IE8 RC1: 130,004MB
  • Opera: 107,528MB
  • Firefox: 106,560MB
  • Chrome: 93,620MB
Er.....not very well. I think the best thing you can say about IE 8 RC1 is it's an improvement over IE 7. Compared to the modern class of browsers - Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, etc. - IE still lags well behind. It does offer a few interesting new features like web slices, but nothing that would raise an eyebrow.

If you’ve been holding off on a release candidate to give IE 8 a spin, the wait is over. You can download IE 8 RC 1 here. Just remember, it’s Microsoft Internet Explorer: it will eat your previous IE install and getting it off of your machine will likely involve your hard drive, a tiny magnet, and a fair amount of swearing.

So why am I hyped up about this release? Simple: it drives another stake in the heart of IE 6.

A web developer is to IE 6 as Ahab is to Moby-Dick. Even though IE 7 has been out for over two years, a lot of people haven’t upgraded yet (many corporations don’t push out IE 6 because they bought or developed applications specifically tailored to IE 6’s horribleness). With IE 6 becoming two major releases out of date, however, I feel pretty comfortable having a popup message on my sites telling people to upgrade their browser or get unpredictable results (as Google has already done).

The day we don’t have to include IE 6 hacks is the day web developer productivity jumps 10% across the globe. So, here’s to you IE 8, you glorious crashware slug of a browser! If I can’t wave a magic wand and drop a different browser on everyone’s desktop, having you go gold is the next best thing.