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Friday, March 20, 2009

First look at IE8

I have expressed my dissatisfaction with IE7 on this blogs for several occasions and offering my conclusion why IE7's uptake fails to materialize and yielding market shares to Firefox.

There are two issues I am really interested in IE8 and they are:
1) I failed to understand Microsoft's irrational pursue of demanding WGA validation during the installation of IE7. Even more distasteful was Microsoft allowed IE7, not an insignificant amount of bytes, to be downloaded without WGA validation then failing the installation on WGA validation failure. This was mean and wasting bandwidth. So I am interested to see if Microsoft wanting to continue this irrational pursue of WGA validation in IE8 that would only further erode its market shares.

2) I want to see if I can still use IE8 in an LUA arrangement as an Windows Explorer with Admin privilege. IE7 can't. This to me is probably less important than say the item 1). If IE8 can be installed without WGA bothering, I will overlook the short comings of this issue because I can almost invoke every control panel applets or MSC files from administrator's console.

It is delightful to see Microsoft has learned a lesson from the IE7 irrational pursue of WGA validation and there is no bothering of WGA validation in IE - downloads or installation. Well done Microsoft.

This is the right thing to do if Microsoft is genuinely keen on protecting users from the evils of the Internets. Besides you can't buy IE even if you want to pay. Let's hope that Microsoft will begin to push this down to Windows users via the Windows Updates.

Actually I tell a small lie. If you are running XP SP2 and that you have not installed the KB932823 update, the IE8 installation insists on you having this update installed. This update is only available to those meeting the WGA validation requirement. In short, IE8 is not fully so generous as Firefox. However, that requirement can easily by-passed. Once that update is installed, IE8 is happy to install it on XP-SP2.

Those with SP3 need not worry and IE8 is very generous in that regard.

It will remain to be seen whether this direction will arrest the erosion of IE market shares by other browsers such as Firefox, Opera and Safari. With the demand for KB932823 meeting WGA validation as mentioned above, I have doubt that IE8 can arrest the erosion.

However, IE8 behaves much like its older sibling and fails to work as a Windows Explorer with administrative privilege, a feature of IE6. As said, I can put up with this mild inconvenience as I can invoke all but a few control panel applets from administrator's console. What I will miss most is the UI to change the ACLs. Fortunately, complex operations requiring the UI support are rare and the use of CACLS command is adequate for most of the usage.

Hence the lack of WGA bothering is more than compensation for the failure to act as a Windows Explorer.

Will I jump back to IE8? Not too sure yet. This is not a matter of performance but more on my fondness for the vast collections of Add-in offered by Firefox. It is like a kid deserting a well-stocked lolly shop - not willingly and likely without dragging kicking and screaming.

I did venture into the IE8 Add-in gallery but it looks very poorly stocked. May be over time, this will change and let's hope so.

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