Internet Explorer 8 has been in cooking stage since 2007, but end users and developers have gotten the first taste of the next iteration of the browser as of March 5, 2008, the opening day of Microsoft's Internet-centric MIX08 conference. A developer-centered release, Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 is focused on web standards compliance and comes with a consistent under-the-hood evolution, while the end user features were postponed for later versions. Microsoft is currently working on the next development of the browser, Beta 2, planned for the summer of this year, and has revealed that inconstancies in IE8 Beta 1 will be dealt with. Case in point: the problems with HTML and DOM.
Travis Leithead, Program Manager IE8 Object Model, has a list with all the HTML/DOM standards compliance changes implemented in IE8 Beta 1. "With the release of IE8 Beta 1, I'm pleased to be able to talk about the first round of improved standards compliance and bug fixes in IE's HTML and DOM support for the new IE8 standards mode. For IE8, I have really focused on the HTML and DOM Core standards and concentrated on building a solid cross-browser compatible foundation (...). This effort to fix some of the cracks in IE's foundation has been a long time in coming, and I believe it's a critical and necessary first step before adding on additional standards support. For IE8 Beta1, we looked at many community-provided bug reports and found that the top pain-points were related to IE's attribute handling."
According to Leithead, attribute-handling essentially became a leitmotif for the issues that were addressed while building Internet Explorer 8. At the same time, the first beta of IE8 does by no means include fixes to all the bugs reported to Microsoft. As a direct consequence, the Redmond company will continue to perfect the browser moving ahead to Beta 2. In this regard, IE8 Beta 2 will deliver all the DOM functionality, as well as resolves for issues in Beta 1.
Of course that the development of Internet Explorer 8 will not be limited to HTML and DOM. Microsoft will continually tweak the browser, and a comprehensive evolution should be visible with Beta 2. Currently expected to drop this summer, IE8 Beta 2 will deliver features designed to appeal to the end users rather than just web content developers and designers.
Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) Beta 1 is available for download here.