Microsoft has released beta 1 for Internet Explorer 8. This release is not intended for public release, but is for web developers and designers who want to check out the new features. This can also be used to plan migration of your site to support IE8.
Windows Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 for Developers is available now in two versions: a stand-alone version for Windows® XP Service Pack 2, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, and Windows Server® 2003; and an enhanced version built to take advantage of the Windows Vista® platform. Support for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 is also planned once it reaches final release in early 2008.
Internet Explorer 8 gives more importance to standards compliance and interoperability. Now backward compatibility is taking a back seat. This means that if your site is not standards compliant, it may not render correctly in IE8!! It is possible to switch IE8 to IE7 mode, but it is not on by default.
IE8 aims for full compliance to CSS 2.1 standards and will be working towards HTML 5 standard. IE8 currently passes Acid2 test in default mode.
Major new features in IE8
Activities – These are a set of contextual services provided by browser on any Webpage. Using the context menu, user can send or receive information from external websites. For example, if you want to add a page to Digg, you can just right click and select "Add to Digg" option. Cool, eh?
Webslices – Portions of a webpage can be marked as Web slices. It is possible for the browser user to subscribe to content inside a slice. Once subscribed it will appear on favorites bar. Whenever content in that slice change, you can preview it without leaving the current page you are viewing! Many popular sites such as Facebook and Ebay has already started using Webslices!
Domain highlighting in address bar – IE8 will highlight the owning domain of the web page you are viewing. This in future should bring down the incidents of phishing by fake sites.