First Look: Internet Explorer 8 beta

This beta release of Microsoft's browser sports some cool new features -- but it's still very beta

WebSlices

Even though IE8 looks a lot like IE7 at first glance, it sports a variety of new features. Primary among them is WebSlices, which are something like RSS feeds on steroids. As with an RSS feed, you subscribe to changing content that you find on a Web page. But WebSlices are graphically richer and interactive. In addition, they will alert you when content in a specific portion of a Web page changes -- for example, a stock price, or the current high price on an auction.

When you subscribe to a WebSlice, it appears on the Favorites Bar. Whenever the content of the Web page changes, the title of its WebSlice turns bold. Click the WebSlice, and the WebSlice drops down, complete with content. You can click through to go to the Web page that houses the slice, or simply view it in the drop-down.

This is a nifty feature, but only useful if Web developers place WebSlices on their pages. At the moment, there aren't many WebSlices out there. So it's hard to know whether this will become a truly useful feature, or instead will join the long list of good ideas that have had a quick exit to the graveyard.

It appears to be quite easy to define a WebSlice on a Web page, so it shouldn't take much effort for developers to create them. For example, here's the HTML code for creating a WebSlice of an eBay auction:

<div class="hslice" id="1"> <p class="entry-title">Game System - $66.00</p> <div class="entry-content"> <img src="game.jpg"> <p>End time: <abbr class="endtime" title="2008-02-28T12:00:00-05:00"> 6 hours</abbr></p> </div> <a rel="feedurl" href="www.ebay.com/game.xml">Subscribe to Feed</a> <p>This item updates every <span class="ttl">15</span> minutes.</p> </p> </div>

Not that bad, at all.

New Favorites bar

The Links bar has not only been folded into the Favorites bar; it has been given a few new features. For example, you can put WebSlices and RSS feeds here as well as links. According to Microsoft, you can also include links to documents on your hard disk. I'm not a big fan of the new Favorites bar; it's in the same location as the old Links bar, taking away too much real estate and offering not many new features. I'd prefer there be some other place to put WebSlices. Where? That's something for Microsoft to figure out...

Activities

This feature gives extra power to the Internet Explorer right-click menu. Hover your mouse over an item or highlight it, right-click, and a list of actions appears. These include viewing the highlighted term in a map, translating it, defining it, and so on.

Depending on the choice you make, you may see a preview screen of your action right on the Web page, such as displaying a small map. You can then click through to the larger map.

Think of Activities as small, low-powered mashups that deliver information to you from another Web site, or interact with another Web site or service. Again, the key here will be how many sites provide Activities. There's already a sizable group of Activities providers, including not only Microsoft, but Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, and Yahoo!

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Preston Gralla

Preston Gralla

Computerworld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?