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Here Comes IE8 RTM!!

One of my best sources for leaked info from Microsoft continues to be Malaysian-based site TechARP. Today’s blog is based on some recent reportage from them about the upcoming Internet Explorer 8 release. The latest date for release to manufacturing (RTM) is March, 2009, most likely sometime in the latter half of that month (details are expected on March 5, though it’s not yet clear if those details will be available only for internal consumption at Microsoft, or in the form of a more public announcement; interestingly TechARP promises to keep us posted either way).

Here’s what IE8 is supposed to deliver, as compared to previous versions:

  • Improved performance and reliability that TechARP reports as “extensive”
  • Enhanced and expanded visual search suggestions that not only govern general search, but also searches related to shopping, social networking, news and portal sites, sports, and other information categories.
  • “Enhanced user experience, greater user privacy, and security enhancements.” This sound like straight-from-MS verbiage that could mean a lot and deliver very little. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

When MS does release IE8 to manufacturing, OEMs can then use it as a supplement at their option for subsequent Vista and XP installs. Thus, it could start showing up as a pre-installed Windows feature shortly thereafter. So far, no dates for public release via Windows Update are available, but that will be just a matter of time once RTM is set. For most major Windows components, this usually occurs within 60-90 days of RTM so we should expect widespread availability of IE8 in May or June of this year.

Interested admins should probably be even more interested in downloading the latest beta (2) version after reading this news. That download is still available on the Windows Internet Explorer 8 Home page. It’s still necessary to uninstall IE 7 on any test machines before installing IE8 on those machines; presumably this stricture will also apply to production machines once IE8 goes into public release. Time to get ready!

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