Microsoft played around with colors when it comes down to Internet Explorer 8. Although the graphical user interface of the current iteration of the browser evolved only subtly compared to IE7, IE8 features new tabbed navigation eye candy. In accordance with the Grouped Tabs capabilities of IE8, related items are now bound visually by the same color. “The idea behind tab grouping is that tabs originating from the same source are grouped together,” explained Helen Drislane, a program manager on the IE team.
Drislane revealed that the user navigation models evaluated by Microsoft indicated that end users would in fact benefit from visual indicators pointing to the tabs which originated from the same source. The Redmond giant went for colors as the indicators of grouped tabs but also for Tab Groups numerical indicators for users with screen readers.
“Now with visual indicators on my tabs, I can quickly identify the groups of tabs that are related to different tasks,” Drislane added. “If you accidentally close a tab within a group, using the new 'Reopen Closed Tab' option in the menu will not only restore that recently closed tab, but will also restore that tab into the right group. Also, when you have completed a task, tab grouping now makes it easier to close everything related to that task by allowing a one click 'Close this Tab Group' option in the tab context menu.”
Grouped Tabs also allow for advanced navigation capabilities, as end users cannot only Ungroup a Tab, but also close entire Tab Groups, an option which streamlines the workflow. But also “in addition to the right-click context menu options, users can drag and drop tabs. Although the main appeal of this feature is that it works seamlessly in the background (there is no work on the user’s side to get this enhanced tab functionality), there are a couple of us who like to over-organize,” Drislane explained.
Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) Beta 2 is available for download here.