In this issue:
Microsoft Releases (Public) Internet Explorer 8 Beta
by Arie Slob
Hello Windows users,
Last Wednesday, at its MIX'08 Web developer conference in Las Vegas Microsoft unveiled a public beta of Internet Explorer 8, the upcoming standards-based Web browser.
While publicly available, the beta is aimed at web developers. But for those of you who can't resist, I suggest you start by reading the Release Notes and have a look at the Internet Explorer 8 Readiness Toolkit.
Dean Hachamovitch, Internet Explorer Team General Manager, presented a list of developer-oriented improvements that were made to IE8 to date. But a more important decision was made earlier: to make the default rendering mode standards-based.
Microsoft has published a features page that lists the new features of IE8 such as:
- Favorites Bar
- Automatic Crash Recovery
- Improved Phishing Filter
Activities allow you (via a right-click contextual menu) to &look up& information within a webpage or &send& web content to a web application. For example, you might be interested in a restaurant and want to find its location. WebSlices allows users to crop a specific area section of a site and bookmark it.
If you decide to try the IE8 beta, you have to know that (like IE7) it will replace IE7. One thing that does make this beta easier though is the addition of a button labeled Emulate IE7. If you have trouble accessing a web site (financial websites are notorious for this), just press the button, and the browser will behave (and be seen as) IE7.
The IE 8 beta will run on both 64-bit and 32-bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows Vista SP1 as well as Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2003 and 2008. You can download a copy of the beta from the Microsoft Web site.
Microsoft to Cut Price of Windows Vista Retail
At the end of February Microsoft announced it intends to cut the price of retail versions of Windows Vista when the OS will start shipping with the Service Pack 1 update (probably around June/July).
In the U.S., Microsoft is cutting prices only on the upgrade versions of the higher-end versions of Vista. The suggested price for Vista Ultimate drops to $219 from $299, while Home Premium falls to $129, from $159.
Other developed markets will also see price cuts, ranging from three percent in some cases to nearly fifty percent in others. In some emerging markets Microsoft is also eliminating the distinction between full and upgrade versions of Home Basic and Home Premium.
Brad Brooks, a corporate vice president for Windows marketing at Microsoft, said in an interview that Microsoft tested lower prices and "was surprised to find that the amount of revenue lost was more than made up for by an increase in the number of PC buyers willing to shell out for an upgrade."
Personally I believe this won't have a lot of affect. In the first place, retail versions of Windows have always amounted to less than 5 percent of all Windows licenses sold, so it's unclear how this change will make much of a difference to consumers or Microsoft. Secondly, users have smartened up over the years, and upgrading Windows is done even less then in the past. Most users will acquire their next Windows with a new PC purchase. And the announced price cuts certainly don't affect the price of the versions of Windows bundled with new PCs.
Microsoft issued a number of updates for Windows Vista & Windows XP in the past weeks:
- KB947506 - Update to resolve an issue where partially installed language packs may cause installation of update packages to fail on a Windows Vista machine.
- KB943198 - Update to improve the Windows USB driver performance on a system running Windows XP.