First Look: Internet Explorer 8 beta

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

Easier-to-identify domains

IE8 introduces some smaller features that may not be earthshaking, but that can be useful. For example, some URLs are so long and complex that it can be tough to immediately decipher which domain you're currently visiting. In IE8's address bar, only the domain (for example, ) is black; everything else is gray. That way, you can see immediately where you are.

New safety filter

Microsoft is touting a new Safety Filter in IE8 which it claims is an improvement over IE7's Phishing Filter. The Safety Filter, according to the company, protects not only against phishing attacks, but against malware as well.

For example, this new Safety Filter issues a warning when you visit a Web site with malicious software. Since I wasn't able to test this feature at this time, we'll have to take Microsoft's word on this for now.

Crash recovery

Internet Explorer 8 can now do what Firefox has been able to do for a very long time -- recover from crashes, and then restore the session or tab that crashed. So after IE8 crashes, or an individual tab crashes, you'll have the option of restoring it.

Beware of crashes

Speaking of crashes -- IE8 is beta, and a beta designed for developers, so if you decide to try it be aware that it's not stable.

Each time I clicked on the Favorites icon to open up the Favorites sidebar, IE crashed. The first time I did this, the effect was so serious that IE8 then crashed every time I tried to open it, even after rebooting. I used System Restore to revert my system to its pre-IE8 state, but IE7 would no longer work -- when I launched it, IE7 would open, and then simply vanish. No error message, no asking whether I want to send an error report -- it simply disappeared.

(Note: Rather than using System Restore, it would have been a better idea for me to use the Add or Remove Programs Control Panel applet; that most likely would have been safer.)

I re-installed IE8, and found that it worked again -- sort of. It crashed every time I clicked on the Favorites icon, or tried to open the sidebar for any other reason. I could restart it each time, and it would work fine -- until I tried to open the sidebar again.

My system is not unique; other users report similar behavior. In a blog about the problem, two people said they had comparable issues. One person's IE crashed every time he opened the sidebar, the other had problems when he tried to organize his Favorites.

The bottom line

Should you download IE8 yet? Unless you're a Web developer, or someone who simply has to have the latest version, you'd be better off waiting. It's still unstable -- as illustrated by the way IE8 crashed every time I tried to use the Favorites sidebar feature. In addition, the browser's most intriguing new features --- Activities and WebSlices --- aren't particularly useful at this point, because there simply isn't enough related content.

As the beta progresses through its cycles, though, I'll have more reviews, to let you know when it's safe to give it a whirl.

Join the newsletter!


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

Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


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


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

Lolita Wang


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

Jack Jeffries


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


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?