Yesterday IE8 went live. I’ve been running it off and on since the first beta came out, but really refrained from saying anything until the final release. I’ve now had a chance to run the final version and compare it to my favorite browser and I’m ready to pronounce my verdict (as if you cared).
Frankly there is a lot to like about IE8. It looks great, runs fast loads pages quickly (faster than Firefox on many popular pages if MS is to be believed) and has a solid security model. But, for me, it still fails to deliver the usability of Firefox. Now my requirements for a browser may be unique to me but I want my browser not to show advertisements, make it easy to post on forums and write web mail by having an inline spell checker, and provide a superior experience with gmail. IE 8, like its predecessors, fails on those counts.
I tried adblocking in IE8 using Adblock Pro and the adblocker built in to IEPro. Both of those programs leaked, something I have never experienced with Adblock Plus in Firefox. Not only was there leakage, but there were several significant false positives with Adblock Pro and IEPro’s adblocker required significant configuration to get it to an acceptable level of performance. Adblock Pro and IEPro also do a poor job (relative to Adblock Plus) of rearranging the sites after removing the ads so that there are no big blank spaces. All in all, for removing ads from web sites, nothing is as seamless and easy as Adblock Plus on Firefox.
While I found a number of plugin spell checkers for IE, the only one I found that did inline spell check was IEPro. That was a major bust because it works on some pages and not on others, something I’ve never experienced with the spell checker built in to Firefox.
Like all of its predecessors IE8 lacks sufficient granularity in the way it looks at certificate security. There is no way that I can find to grant a permanent exception to a mismatched security certificate. Those of us who run our own web servers use the certificate so we can use encrypted communication (ssh and https), not to identify the server. I’m not going to jump through hoops to get a valid certificate just to run ssh. IE needs to let me make a permanent exception for server certificates so I don’t get warnings every time I use Webmin to administer a server.
The bottom line is that IE8 is a solid browser with good fundamental rendering and security that is now highly standards compliant. But that’s not enough to make me want to use it, so I’m sticking with Firefox.