The latest update to Microsoft’s browser was released yesterday, with features like Accelerators and web slices added to improve on the previous version.

I currently use Firefox over Internet Explorer for various reasons, including the fact that it rarely crashes, as well the useful add-ons, so should Mozilla be worried about its users switching to IE8?

Econsultancy on IE8

Loading speed

Microsoft is making a lot of the increased loading speed of its new browser in its publicity, and claims to load more of the top 25 websites faster than both Firefox and Chrome.

IE8 speed comparison

Chrome and Firefox normally beat Internet Explorer 7 when it comes to loading sites up quickly, but Microsoft seems to have narrowed the gap slightly with this latest release.

IE7 was noticeably slower than its rivals, but I tried loading up a few UK newspaper websites on the three browsers at once, and IE8, though slightly slower than Chrome, seemed to match Firefox every time, though this is by no means a definitive test.

New features

IE8 comes with a few new add-ons and features to enhance the browsing experience, and some are useful additions.

The Accelerator add-on helps IE8 users to map locations they come across, find products on eBay, start blog posts, and so on. Highlighting a word on a web page wlll bring up the accelerator menu. In this example, by selecting ‘iPhone’ I can search for the item on eBay:

IE8 Accelerator

The web slices feature allows you to keep up with content on different websites via a link on the browser bar, to save you continually going back to the site in question.

In this example, I can keep up with the top ten stories on Digg without having to visit the site:

IE8 web slices

There is also a new crash recovery function which, like Google Chrome, will not crash the whole browser when one tab crashes, as well as an inPrivate browsing option, similar to Google Chrome’s ‘incognito’ feature.

Conclusion

Thanks to its dominant market position, and the fact that millions of Windows users will automatically receive the new browser through updates, Internet Explorer will remain the most popular on the market. If it had to compete with Firefox etc on an equal footing, it may be a different story. 

It does represent an improvement on IE7, some of the new add-ons are useful, and it is faster, but for users of Firefox, Safari or Chrome, this isn’t enough to make it worthwhile changing back to Internet Explorer.