Thursday, May 7, 2009

WINXP - IE8, My Evaluation

I've been running IE8 at home and work since the final (non-beta, non-RC) release appeared in Windows Update. So here is my evaluation at this point.

First, the system specs (home & work): WinXP SP3, 2gb RAM, running IE6

Installed IE8 on both systems.

At first blush, it looks like Microsoft got this upgrade 95% correct.

What I like.....

  • It does have higher security features, but there a small conflict problem (discussed later)

  • It has a Compatibility View (feature), something IE7 sorely needed, that supposedly makes IE8 compatible with older WEB sites, note that you should load Compatibility Updates found in Optional section of Win Updates

  • In includes using WEB Accelerators, many listed in defaults

  • Shrink-to-fit printing, FINALLY!


1) Many have noticed that IE8 takes a long time to load (this is after initial load and configuration, normal run). Microsoft is aware of the problem because there is a KB (Knowledge Base) article on it. It mentions that people running SpyBot Search and Destroy should disable the plug-in.

Of course, SpyBot S&D users (including me) disagree. I'll trust SpyBot S&D over Microsoft any day. The publishers of SpyBot S&D have been specializing in this for as long as Microsoft has been around.

The slowdown is cause by IE8's SmartScreen Filter function. It does the same thing as the Immunize feature in SpyBot S&D. If you want to use SpyBot S&D, then disable SmartScreen Filter in IE8.

2) After installing IE8, Internet Options settings are returned to Default, with the exceptions of your Home Page and any Safe Sites you had before.

In the Security Zones tab, the Microsoft default settings for Security level for this zone has settings that I disagree with. I suggest the following [Custom level] settings for Internet, Local Internet, and Trusted Sites:

In the Miscellaneous section, set the following to Enable

  • Access data sources across domains
    (there are many sites that have links to other domains, example separate billing site for completing orders)

  • Display mixed content
    (the ability to display both secure & unsecured data or links)

  • Navigate windows and frames across different domains
    (again, a feature many sites use now-days)

  • WEB sites in less privileged WEB content zone can navigate into this zone

A special problem/issue:

We use a Fileserver to keep documents shared by others, including pictures. With IE6 I could use a shortcut to the folder on Fileserver2 that contains JPG files, and open them in my Paint Shop Pro 8 with no problem.

After installing IE8, whenever I opened a JPG on Fileserver2, I would get the following dialog:

It took 2 days, but Microsoft Tech Support found the answer.

Internet Options, Security, Trusted sites, [Custom level], under Miscellaneous section
  1. ENABLE Launching applications and unsafe files

  2. Then I had to add Fileserver2 to the Trusted sites list

After that, I could open the JPG files without getting the dialog. Although this was annoying, this is a demonstration of IE8's increased security features.

IE8 Compatibility List

Note that updating of the Compatibility List is done via Windows Update but is Optional. You have to manually select this update from the Optional list (Sidebar).

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