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Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 planned for 2009

Third beta, then release

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The "standards-compatible" next edition of Internet Explorer has been bumped into 2009 by Microsoft.

A third Internet Explorer 8 beta will now be released in the first quarter of next year and be followed by a final release, IE general manager Dean Hachamovitch has blogged.

Hachamovitch did not give a date for that final release but spelt it out more clearly than the usual IT vendor message of "we're taking feedback and won't ship until we're ready."

Bill Veghte, senior vice president for the Windows business group, in July reportedly said IE 8 would be ready by the end of the year. Veghte made the promise in front of Wall Street investors at the company's annual Financial Analysts Meeting (FAM) at its Redmond campus.

"Our plan is to deliver the final product after listening for feedback about critical issues," Hachamovitch said this week.

"We will be very selective about what changes we make between the next update and final release. We will act on the most critical issues. We will be super clear about product changes we make between the update and the final release."

Hachamovitch also stressed the release candidate will be final product - and odd statement, given that's usually the case anyway.

Why so super-cautious? There's more than usual at stake with this Microsoft release. IE 8 will introduce a tag so web sites tuned to older versions of IE can be viewed in this release without breaking. Breakage is a real possibility as IE 8 will update its legacy layout engine to offer “full” CSS 2.1 and “strong” HTML 5.0 support.

The technical community "should expect the final product to behave as this update does," Hachamovitch said.

"We want them to test their sites and services with IE 8, make any changes they feel are necessary for the best possible customer experience using IE8, and report any critical issues (e.g., issues impacting robustness, security, backwards compatibility, or completeness with respect to planned standards work).

"Our plan is to deliver the final product after listening for feedback about critical issues," Hachamovitch said. ®

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