What’s New in Internet Explorer 8?

by Helium Hung, Joe Lee

Microsoft had shipped the final version of Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) and it has made available for installation during windows update. The new browser has better tab handling, a niftier search bar, a more useful address bar, and new tools that deliver information directly from other Web pages and services. It has also been tweaked for security, new anti-malware protection, and better ways to protect your privacy.

However, some educational institutions have pointed out that IE8 is incompatible with Blackboard (our eLearning application) and Sungard’s Banner (with which most of our administrative applications have been developed). While most of Blackboard’s compatible issues, but not Banner’s, can be solved by using IE8’s ‘Compatible View” (see IE8 new features below), thus it is necessary to wait for Sungard to solve Banner’s incompatibilities before IE8 can be adopted institution-wide. Coupled with the fact that offices, support units and application developers also need more time to prepare for IE8 support, the Computing Services Centre (CSC) therefore has applied a temporary policy to prevent IE8 from downloading automatically to computers joined to the University’s CityUMD domain (including Staff LAN and Student LAN PCs). If necessary, skillful users can still visit Microsoft’s downloading website to obtain IE8 directly. If users have accidentally installed IE8 and encountered difficulties in rendering web pages, they may seek assistance from our Help Desk for removal guidelines or activating the Compatibility View. The CSC will periodically review the readiness of CityU’s support of IE8 in campus. For now, users are recommended to work with IE7 to avoid problems mentioned above.

IE8 New Features






  • Accelerators allow you to perform a list of functions when selecting some text or link in a web page without leaving the web page. You can add more or remove any of the present accelerators to make the browsing experience better.
    o Blog with Windows live
    o E-mail with Windows live
    o Map with Live search
    o Translate with Live search
    o Search with Google, Bing, Yahoo etc.


  • Web Slices allow you to keep up with frequently updated sites directly from the new Favorites Bar. For example, if you want to watch eBay bidding price you can get information from the Web Slice without having to visit the eBay website.
  • If a Web Slice is available on a page, a green Web Slice icon will appear in the Command Bar. Click on this icon to easily subscribe and add the Web Slice to the Favorites Bar in order to keep track of that “slice” of the web. When its content changes, the Web Slice turns bold. Click the Web Slice, and it will preview the updated content or you can click on the preview to go directly to the site that hosts the slice.


  • Compatibility View allows you to display websites that were designed for older browsers. If you’re looking at a page and the text or images aren’t lined up right, just use the new Compatibility View button next to the Refresh button on the Address Bar.


  • SmartScreen filter is a set of technologies designed to help protect users from evolving web and social engineering threats. If the SmartScreen filter detects a malicious website, IE8 will block the entire site and notify the user about it.
  • InPrivate Browsing in IE8 helps prevent the user’s browsing history, temporary Internet files, form data, cookies and usernames/passwords from being retained by the browser, leaving no evidence of the user’s browsing or search history, when checking e-mail at an Internet cafe or shopping for a gift on a family PC.

IE8 Improved Features





  • Smart address bar suggests URLs while you are typing characters in the address bar when you forgot some website URL you previously opened. The address bar searches through almost everything like bookmarks, history and RSS feeds etc. to suggest URLs that you have opened before.


  • Enhanced tabbed browsing in IE8 introduces Tab Groups. When you open a new tab from an existing page, the new one opens directly to the right of the originating one, and both tabs are given the same color. When you close a tab that's part of a group, another tab from the same group is displayed, enabling you to remain within the context of the current group.


  • Find on page feature matches every alphabet you are typing to get things done faster while typing in the keyword you are finding.
  • Visual search suggestions provides you a small thumbnail beside the suggestion that can make your search easy and better with the search engine you wish.
  • Automatic crash recovery will recover and reload all the tabs opened in the same situation when the browser crashed.

IE8 Important Change

Microsoft recently published a set of Interoperability Principles (see References). Thinking about IE8’s behavior with these principles in mind, interpreting web content in the most standards compliant way possible is the best thing to do. Now, IE8 will show pages requesting “Standards” mode in IE8’s Standards mode.

Some Web sites may not be displayed correctly or work correctly in IE8. This problem does not occur in earlier versions of Internet Explorer, and the affected Web sites continue to be displayed correctly and to work correctly in Internet Explorer 7.

For example, you may experience any of the following symptoms in IE8:

  • Menus, images, or text are in the wrong positions on some Web sites.
  • Some Web site features do not work.
  • You receive script error messages on some Web sites.
  • Internet Explorer stops working or crashes on some Web sites.

IE8 has a Compatibility View that's designed to essentially trick a site into believing that you're running IE7. Developers who want IE8 to show their pages using “IE7 Standards mode” will need to request that explicitly. There are two mechanisms for using the compatibility mode switch.

  • Option 1: Place the following HTML tag into the top of the HEAD element of your Web page:
    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=EmulateIE7"/>
    NOTE: For the META compatibility mode switch to take effect, it must come before all other tags in the HEAD element except TITLE and other META tags.
  • Option 2: If you control your Web server, you can opt in an entire directory or folder to a layout mode without having to modify every page. Instead, you may use the HTTP header equivalent of the META element opt-in by configuring your server to send the following header:
    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=EmulateIE7"/>

How to test if your web site is IE8 ready?

Test your website to make sure it is IE8 ready:

  1. Open your website in IE8. If you do not have IE8, you may obtain it from the Microsoft’s website.
  2. Enable the Compatibility View if pages look different from how they did in IE7 or do not work the same way.
  3. If Compatibility View makes your pages render as in IE7, then modify your site to use Compatibility View by default to get your site working immediately.
  4. If your site does not render or function properly in Compatibility View, contact your web developer to identify the issue.

How to prepare your web site for IE8 ready? The MUST.

For web developers, you MUST follow the developer checklist and prepare your web-site ready for IE8. Microsoft has provided tools to help test and modify applications to run on IE8: