IE8 was officially released on March 19th, 2009. Marking a great day for people begging for the deprecation of IE6. As of the 5th of April, IE8 was up to 3+% and based on IE8’s speed, standard support, and security, I’m hoping this trend continues upward, displacing IE6 which is showing ~22%. (Source: gs.statcounter.com)
IE8 has added numerous new security features. Some of which are more functional than others. IE8 has instituted two new filters; the cross-site scripting filter, and the smart screen filter (successor to the anti-phishing filter). The cross-site scripting (XSS) filter, sure to cause developer pains, blocks XSS requests from executing and pops up a notification that an attack has been blocked. I’m still waiting to see how this plays out for people using CDN’s like Akamai to host their static content. I haven’t noticed any problems on my sites as of yet. The Smart Screen filter warns you if there is one website impersonating another. This has become a popular attack method of sites for capturing private data or getting on to your machine so its nice to see Microsoft addressing this. Included in this is domain name highlighting, a feature sure to be missed by the average consumer. In terms of Security, IE8 also offers the InPrivate browsing feature (Porn Mode), that doesn’t log your history or cache anything.
In terms of Speed from personal experience the IE8 rendering has been quite good. Microsoft posted some speed comparisons (http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2009/03/microsofts-own-speed-tests-show-ie-beating-chrome-firefox.ars) that show some excellent times. If anyone has seen speed comparisons to IE6 I would love to see them.
IE8 now passes the Acid 2 test completely. The Acid 2 test is a test page written to help browser manufacturers ensure support for proper web standards in their products. This makes me and many other web developers very happy, especially if they can get a better than 3.4% market penetration with IE8. Sadly IE8 doesn’t pass the next level of standards; the Acid 3 test, which tests for numerous items including DOM Traversal, DOM Events, CSS 3 Selectors, SVG, and ECMA Script. To Microsoft’s credit though, FF3 is only scoring a 71/100. Opera 10 and Safari 4 are the only ones showing promise of passing that currently.
So what we are left with is a highly secure, fast browser, which is out of Beta (unlike Gmail). So here is where I plead: Please, Please, Please if you are an IT person reading this, get your people off of IE6, the browser is now 8 years old, susceptible to all types of attacks and incredibly slow at rendering pages. Any costs associated with making an upgrade to the newest version of IE are trumped by the costs of trying to deal with and support the nightmarish flood of junk that IE6 brings with it. And if you are still concerned, don’t forget, IE8 has a compatibility mode. There are no excuses anymore to keep your people on IE6. I have a dream that IE6 will be below 3% by the end of the year.