Windows 7 Internet Explorer 8 Usability

Windows 7 ships with the new Internet Explorer 8 (IE8). IE8 builds on the foundation of IE7 and this latest release contains many useful enhancements in the areas of usability, privacy, and security.

The first major noticeable improvement in IE8 is usability. Microsoft has taken pains to improve the usability of IE8 by adding the following features:
• Smarter Address bar that lists all the relevant sites you have visited by searching through your History, Favorites, and RSS Feeds

• Enhanced functionality of tabbed browsing by color-coding related tabs

• Support for older websites by displaying them using IE7 through the Compatibility

• A much more usable Find feature to make searching for phrases on the web page easy

• Ability to visually search for items from providers like and

• Web Slices to help users monitor constantly changing web content

• Accelerators, which integrate commonly used functions into the browser so that users can perform common actions with a single mouse-click.

Smart Address Bar
The Address bar in IE8 is now much smarter than its predecessor. In addition to typing websites’ URLs, you can now type in keywords and it will search across your History, Favorites, and RSS Feeds and display all matching sites that you have visited previously.

This feature is very useful for finding pages that you have visited previously but whose
URLs you cannot remember.

Enhanced Tabbed Browsing and Grouping
Prior to IE7, IE users were clamoring for tabbed browsing, which was a feature already available in competing browsers like Firefox and Opera. However, with tabbed browsing in IE7, things soon got out of control. You suddenly had tons of tabs on your browser window, and it was quite a task to manage them.

In IE8, when you create a new tab from an existing tab (for example, by right-clicking a link and selecting Open in New Tab), the new tab (and the existing tab) will be colorcoded to help you visually group them together.

When you right-click one of the tabs, you can close the current selected tab, close the entire tab group, or ungroup the current tab from the current group. When you start a new tab, IE8 will provide several options with which you can open previously closed tabs as well as reopen the last browsing session. The “Reopen closed tabs” option allows you to reopen all the tab pages that you have closed during the current browsing session. The Reopen Last Browsing Session option opens all the page(s) that you opened during your previous browsing session (before you closed your IE window).

Compatibility View
IE8 supports Compatibility View, which allows sites not optimized for IE8 to be displayed the way IE7 would have displayed them. This corrects problems such as misaligned text, images, and text boxes. To force a site to be displayed in IE7 mode, click the Compatibility View button located next to the URL of the site.

You also have the option to maintain a list of sites that need to be displayed in compatibility view. To do so, go to the Command bar and select Tools->Compatibility View Settings. You can now add the URL of sites that you want to view in Compatibility View. Observe that in this window, you have several options for viewing pages in Compatibility View. You can obtain updated lists from Microsoft, disable IE8 to display Intranet sites in Compatibility View, or force all pages to be displayed in Compatibility View.

What does it mean for a site to be unoptimized for IE8? Technically, IE8 is more up-to-date with modern web standards than IE7. However, some older sites that were optimized for IE7 relied on idiosyncrasies in how IE7 interpreted modern web standards. So, although IE8 should be more standards-compliant, there are still some websites that relied on IE-specific workarounds that don’t look quite as good under IE8 as they did under IE7.

When viewing intranet pages, IE8 will automatically render the content using IE7 Standards mode. This is done to ensure maximum compatibility, as many intranet apps are still based on IE7. Hence the Compatibility View button will not be shown for Intranet pages.

Find on Page
One of the most frustrating features in IE7 (as well as previous versions) was the Find feature. Anyone who has used this feature knows that you needed to scroll the page to the top before you could start searching for the things you want. For a long time, IE has been playing catchup with browsers like Safari and Firefox, and finally in IE8, the Find feature that most users are waiting for is finally here.

To find a word or phrase on the page, press Ctrl-F (or go to Edit->Find on this Page...) and type the word or phrase you want to search for. Once the word or phrase is found, you will see the result bar.

All occurrences of the word or phrase are highlighted in yellow and the current word is highlighted in blue. To move to the next or previous occurrence of the phrase, click the Previous or the Next button.

Improved Search
Searching in IE8 has now been improved. Microsoft is partnering with various search providers to provide “visual searches.” For example, you can visually search’s huge library of books from within IE. All you need to do is to add the Amazon Search Suggestion search provider by clicking the option arrow to the right of
the search field, selecting Find More Providers, and adding the search provider. As you type, the search will return the search results visually. You can also switch between the different search providers you have installed by clicking the icons below the search result.

Visual Search Providers
Currently, the following search providers support visual search:
• The New York Times Instant Search
• Wikipedia Visual Search
• Amazon Search Suggestions
• eBay Visual Search
• Bing Search Suggestions
• Freebase Visual Search
• Bidtopia Search Suggestions

One neat trick with IE is that the web address field is also a search box— just type the search string in it and the default search provider configured in IE will perform a search.

Web Slices
IE8 supports a new feature called Web Slices. Basically, Web Slices allows you to automatically monitor changes in the content of some pages without needing to revisit the page. Consider the case of bidding for an item on eBay. If you are currently bidding for an item, you would be very interested in monitoring its bids closely so that you know the latest price. Rather than refreshing the page continuously, IE8 can do that for you and alert you when the content of the page changes. When you go to sites that support Web Slices, you will see the Web Slices icon appear as your mouse moves over sections of the page. The RSS button will also turn into the Web Slices icon. See the two highlighted icons

When you click the Web Slices icon, you will be asked whether you want to view it from the Favorites. Click the Add to Favorites Bar button to add the Web Slices.

You can now view the Web Slice in the Favorites bar. Clicking it will display the portion of the page. When the content of the Web Slice has changed, the item in the Favorites bar will be displayed in bold and its background color will change.

To customize the behavior of Web Slices, go to the Command bar and select Tools->Internet Options. Under the Content tab, click the Settings button in the Feeds and Web Slices. You can now configure the frequency of the updates (ranging from once every 15 minutes to once every week).

Imagine that you are searching for the address of a particular location. Once the address is found, you would most likely copy the address and navigate to Google Maps (or LiveSearch Maps) to check out the map of the location. Wouldn’t it be easier if IE simply provided a link to automatically do just that?

Enter accelerators, a feature in IE8. Accelerators help you quickly accomplish tasks without needing to navigate to other websites. For example, if you want to check the map of a location, highlight the address, click the blue accelerator icon displayed on the screen, and select “Map with Bing” accelerator.

The map of the selected address will now be displayed. Another useful accelerator is the translation service provided by Live Search. You can add more accelerators to IE8 by right-clicking any web page, choosing All Accelerators, and clicking Find More Accelerators.

Source of Information : Oreilly Windows 7 Up and Running

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