5 problems in Internet Explorer 8

The latest version of Microsoft browser Internet Explorer 8 has received mixed response from users and analysts. The browser which is getting high marks for a host of navigational and security features, is also being criticised for not being fast enough.

As of last Friday, web reports stated that IE8 only accounted for about one and a half per cent of all internet traffic. Here's are some of the gripes users have with the new Microsoft browser.

1. Compatibility issues.
Internet Explorer 8 suffers from compatibility problems with Web standards such as CSS, HTML4 and XHTML, according to the results of The Web Standards Project's Acid Test 3.

The Acid 3 test for compatibility ensures that the browser works well with technologies such as CSS, HTML4 and XHTML. However, the test reveals that IE8 falls far short of scores delivered by other new browser software from Google and Mozilla.

This failure could especially be a huge stumbling block for developers as they rely on these standards to make sure their work can run across many different browsers and on different OSes.

Microsoft had earlier warned that IE8's default support for some new Internet standards may cause problems with their sites. Explorer 8 includes a tool called Compatibility View that lets users view sites built for previous editions of the browser.

2. Still slow.
Microsoft Corp is boasting about the performance speed of the IE8, but the new browser remains the slowest of the top five on the market.

According to JavaScript rendering tests run by Computerworld, the final version of IE8 is only slightly faster than the browser's Release Candidate 1, which Microsoft released in January.

According to the test findings (which appeared in Computerworld) Google Inc's Chrome led all browsers in the SunSpider tests, making it more than four times faster than IE8. Second was Mozilla Corp's Firefox 3.0.7, followed by Apple Inc's Safari 3.2.2 for Windows and Opera Software's Opera 9.63.

Firefox proved to be 59 per cent faster than IE8, while Safari was 47 per cent faster. Opera, the slowest non-Microsoft production browser, was still 38 per cent faster than IE8.

Walt Mossberg, the personal-technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal, criticised IE 8's performance in an All Things Digital post, "Microsoft claims IE 8 is very fast, but in my tests, speed and performance were its worst attributes. Using two computers, one running Windows XP and one running Windows Vista, I timed the loading of a half-dozen popular Web sites, plus two folders containing numerous news and sports sites. I repeated the test in IE 8, and in Firefox, Safari 4, and Chrome. In every case, IE 8 loaded the pages and folders more slowly than most of the other browsers, and in most cases, it came in dead last."

Incidentally, Microsoft said that its own speed tests prove Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) to be faster than both Firefox and Chrome.

3. Hacked!.
IE8 beefs up protection against malware and known phishing scam sites. However, the new browser suffered its first hack just days after its official launch (along with Safari and Firefox browsers).

At a security conference last week in Canada, a hacker exploited a security hole in Microsoft's new Internet Explorer 8 in under two hours, taking control of a Sony laptop running an internal build of Windows 7.

The 25-year-old German researcher won $5,000 and a Sony laptop in the annual contest PWN2OWN that invites hackers to worm their way into popular browsers and operating systems for prize money.

Later, Microsoft confirmed for TippingPoint's Digital Vaccine Laboratories that the IE8 vulnerability was genuine. It is still unknown whether the vulnerability exists only on Windows 7.

4. No final support for Windows 7.
Microsoft is currently not offering the final version of Internet Explorer 8 on Windows 7. For those using Windows 7 Beta will have to stick with IE8 Release Candidate 1 for now.

Microsoft has not confirmed when the final version of IE8 will be available for Windows 7, but it is expected in the next public release for Windows 7.

Also, IE8 can only be downloaded from www.microsoft.com/ie8 or Microsoft's Download Center. Microsoft has not specified when it will push IE8 through the Windows Update service.

According to Microsoft, IE 8 helps web designers prevent "clickjacking," where a Web surfer might think they're clicking on a legitimate button when in fact they're activating an invisible, malicious action.

However, many experts believe that Microsoft's latest technology to protect Internet Explorer users from clickjacking will not fix the problem. According to them, it won't be a panacea cure-all, but it may help. Researches believe that the problem is so vast that Microsoft's approach, which works only when developers add special tags to their pages that prevent their own Web buttons from being misused, may end up giving IE users a false sense of security.

Microsoft released the technology as part of an early test version of its Internet Explorer 8 browser, saying that the company had developed "consumer-ready" protection for an attack.

Clickjacking enables an attacker to force a user click on an invisible link, obviously without his knowledge or consent. Once a user clicks the link unknowingly, the hacker takes over the control.

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