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Internet Explorer 8: What it means for your online software business website

This month Microsoft released its new Internet Explorer 8 Web browser. The latest version has been redeveloped from the ground up and includes a large number of new features and enhancements.

In this article, we look at what opportunities and advantages the new Internet Explorer 8 brings to you as a Web author.

Web Slices

Internet Explorer's new Web Slices feature lets users see the information they want to access regularly without leaving the page they are on.

As a Web author, you can mark parts of your webpages as Web Slices. Web users can then easily monitor the information.

Web Slices appear in the Favorites bar of Web users. Updated sites are identified in bold. From there, Web users can see a rich Web Slice visualisation of the content with easy access back to the source webpage.

Integrating Web Slices support into your webpages can help significantly increase how often people return to your site, resulting in your site becoming more popular.

Accelerators

The new 'Accelerators' feature gives Web users easy access to the online services they like the most from any page they visit. This provides Web developers with an easy way to extend their online service's reach. Accelerators also allow users to browse faster by eliminating most of the clicks required to access desired content.

Enhanced compatibility for older sites

A problem faced by Web authors in the past has been to make websites compatible with older Web browsers while at the same time adding new website enhancements as technology improves.

Some websites that are designed for older browsers may not display correctly in Internet Explorer 8, which by default renders content in the most standards-compliant way possible.

Thanks to a new 'Compatibility View' feature in Internet Explorer 8, however, there is now an easy way to fix display problems such as out-of-place menus, images and text. By simply clicking a 'Compatibility View' button, users can see webpages as they were designed to be viewed.

Attracting return visitors from the address bar

When users type information into the address bar, Internet Explorer 8 now provides suggested results from both the History and Favorites lists while preventing duplicate results. This feature is beneficial to you as a Web author because it means that there is an increased probability that people who have visited your site in the past will return again in the future.

Searching your webpages

When users search for content within your webpages, Internet Explorer 8 now returns information about how often the text being search for appears on the page and also highlights all instances of it. This makes it easier for users to determine how relevant your webpage is for their requirement and improves the Web browsing experience for people visiting your site because it is easier for them to locate the information that they are looking for.

CSS, HTML, and Document Object Model (DOM) improvements

The CSS 2.1 style sheet standard is now fully supported and many cross-browser inconsistencies have been addressed.

Advancements have been incorporated for future standards including HTML 5.

Microsoft also says that developers will experience significant performance gains in asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) design patterns.

Advanced features for Web authors

If you develop websites with advanced features, you will appreciate a number of enhancements included with Internet Explorer 8.

For example, if you develop AJAX applications, you can now update the browser back and forward navigation stack and Address Bar from within your AJAX application.

Other more advanced features include Cross-Document Messaging (XDM) which provides a highly secure method for allowing different documents to communicate with each other given mutual consent; Cross-Domain Requests (XDR) to more securely request public resources from another domain's server; and per-site and per-user ActiveX support to provide greater control over how developers want their ActiveX controls to run and install.

Internet Explorer 8 also includes a more standards-compatible layout engine that allows you to build a single standards-based website for multiple browsers. Internet Explorer 8 enables Web developers to ask for the Windows Internet Explorer 7 layout engine by inserting a simple meta tag into their code or by adding a single HTTP header on their servers.

Getting the latest version

The latest version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 is available in 25 languages and can be downloaded from http://www.microsoft.com/ie8 .

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