Microsoft swore it would not allow another huge gap between Internet Explorer releases like what happened between versions 6 and 7 (Vers. 6 was released in 2001 and 7 didn't come out till 2006) and it's on track to keep that promise. The firm posted the second beta version of Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) on Wednesday.
In early June, Bill Gates promised that the company would post IE8 Beta 2 before the end of August.
Whereas the first beta, released in March, focused on the plumbing of the browser – addressing compliance with new Web standards and such – the second beta addresses user interface issues.
"We focused our work around three themes: everyday browsing (the things that real people do all the time), safety (the term most people use for what we've called 'trustworthy' in previous posts), and the platform (the focus of Beta 1, how developers around the world will build the next billion web pages and the next waves of great services)," wrote Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of the Internet Explorer team on the IEBlog.
The much-talked about "porn mode" – a switchable setting where all content, like files, cookies, and HTML code, is not saved to the cache – is a part of IE 8 beta 2, along with a feature familiar to Firefox users.
Like Firefox, IE adds a searchable address bar, so the user can type in the actual URL or words from the site and IE will narrow the search as more letters are entered. This is similar to Firefox 3.0's "Awesome Bar," which Firefox users have disliked from day one.
The search box has been modified, adding suggestions on how to make a more effective search, and offering a list of search providers, something Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) had to do after complaints from Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) over Internet Explorer 7's search engine. IE 8 will even allow for searching Amazon.com and eBay.
There are new security protections, including a feature called the SmartScreen filter, which expands upon the Phishing Filter in Internet Explorer 7. The IEBlog said there are upgraded security feature to protect against things like cross-site scripting attacks, one of the most common forms of Web-based attacks.
Microsoft has set no official release date for Internet Explorer 8.