Gates promises IE8 Beta 2 in August

Microsoft's chairman calls the upcoming browser a 'big milestone for us'

Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates today narrowed the release window for the second beta version of Internet Explorer 8 to sometime in August.

During a keynote address at the Tech-Ed conference in Orlando this morning, Gates said that IE8 Beta 2 would ship that month, with 20 different language-specific versions available within a month after that.

Last week, the IE development team announced that the next beta of IE would be released in the third quarter of the year, which could be anywhere from July 1 to Sept. 30. The developers also told site administrators and Web designers to prep for the beta by adding a compatibility tag that would let IE8 users view their sites using the Microsoft-centric rendering standards of the older IE7.

Not doing so, warned the IE group, might "break" sites for users running IE8.

IE8 was released in Beta 1 nearly three months ago, but until today, Microsoft had not specified a target date for a second preview version. In March, Microsoft said that the new browser would default to a standards-compliant rendering of Web content -- a step that site developers had urged on the company -- rather than a mode that stresses compatibility with IE7.

Calling IE8 a "big milestone for us" that the company is putting "renewed effort" into, Gates spent little actual time discussing the browser during his keynote. He did, however, tout two of the new browser's features: Activities and Web Slices.

Both features, which Microsoft trumpeted when it first rolled out Beta 1, will be developer-created, not user-created. Activities, a small-scale mash-up tool, lets developers designate selected keywords for one-button use in other online services, such as an eBay auction search. Web Slices, on the other hand, resemble the Web Clip feature introduced in Apple Inc.'s Safari with Mac OS X 10.5; they let users subscribe to small content chunks within a site.

According to the most recent browser share data from metrics firm Net Applications, IE accounted for 73.8% of all browsers used last month. IE8, however, held just a 0.03% share, less than one-twentieth the 0.63% share owned by Firefox 3.0, the Mozilla Corp. browser that also has yet to be released in final form.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon