On Wednesday Microsoft announced that the previously expected end of year release of Internet Explorer 8 would be pushed back into 2009. IE8, which entered public beta in March has undergone scrutiny for compatibility issues but was still expected to be ready for a winter 2008 release. The news that this will no longer happen has unleashed further hostility in the community from those who have adopted Firefox.

Microsoft has touted a number of new features with the release of Internet Explorer 8 but the delay has stressed validity. The problem with many of the features, such as deleting browsing history and enhanced crash recovery is that these features have already been incorporated in competitors browser’s for years. Other features such as Web Slices feel gimmicky and not worthy of holding up a project. The most important upgrades are for security and an improved rendering engine, but again, these features have already been done. Why is it taking Microsoft so long to implement them?

The release of Windows 7 is planned for the second half of 2009 and is expected to ship with IE8. Considering the complications that would arise if the operating system shipped with a broken browser it can be expected that a standalone version will ship prior to the launch. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft can get its act together and release a product worthy of the version update by then.

For years Microsoft Internet Explorer has retained the largest market share of browsers despite falling into last place with performance. In recent years this has begun to fall but the majority of computer users still will not seek out a new browser and so Microsoft remains on top. With the eventual release of IE8 one can only hope Microsoft finally earns that place.

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Design and Optimization Department