So far all that we’ve known about Internet Explorer 8 was that they finally decided to push for web standards, and for that I’m extremely grateful. Microsoft has, however, posted an IE 8 Readiness Toolkit likely in preparation for MIX08 which starts today and runs until March 7th. In the toolkit they have download links (which we’ve posted at the end of this article) as well as a feature guide.

UPDATE: The downloads are now available.

We’ve taken the liberty of outlining all of the features below, but you won’t be able to get your hands on the browser quite yet. While the links to the IE8 Beta 1 downloads are available they have yet to be activated… you’ll get an error page if you try to download it at this time. Be patient though because I would expect them to be available shortly.

Okay, lets move on to the good stuff…

–Internet Explorer 8 Features–

As part of the readiness toolkit Microsoft has assembled a new features page which outlines what appears to be the big new things in Internet Explorer 8. I have to admit that some of them are actually really nice additions.

  • Activities – Activities typically involve two types of scenarios: “look up” information within a webpage or “send” web content to a web application. For example, a user is interested in a restaurant and wants to see the location of it. This is the form of a “look up” Activity where the user selects the address and views an in-place view of the map using his favorite map service. [Learn how to develop Activities]
    ie8 activities
  • WebSlices – WebSlices is a new feature for websites to connect to their users by subscribing to content directly within a webpage. WebSlices behave just like feeds where clients can subscribe to get updates and notify the user of changes. These sound a lot like Firefox’s Microsummaries, except IE’s are way better in my opinion. [Learn how to develop WebSlices]
    ie8 webslices
  • Favorites Bar – The Links bar has undergone a complete makeover for Internet Explorer 8. It has been renamed the Favorites bar to enable users to associate this bar as a place to put and easily access all their favorite web content such as links, feeds, WebSlices and even Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.
    ie8 favorites bar
  • Automatic Crash Recovery – Automatic Crash Recovery (ACR) is a feature of Windows Internet Explorer 8 that can help to prevent the loss of work and productivity in the unlikely event of the browser crashing or hanging. The ACR feature takes advantage of the Loosely-Coupled Internet Explorer feature to provide new crash recovery capabilities, such as tab recovery, which will minimize interruptions to users’ browsing sessions.
    ie8 recovered tabs
  • Improved Phishing Filter – The Safety Filter continues to block known Phishing sites and now blocks sites known to contain malicious software that could harm users’ computer or steal their information. Beyond this improved protection, the Safety Filter operates more quickly than ever before to ensure that users can browse both safely and quickly.
    ie8 safety filter


–Download Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 (IE8 Beta 1)–

Here are the links you need to download Internet Explorer 8:

[via ActiveWin]
Thanks a ton to Oliver for the tip!