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Internet Explorer 8 Review

I installed Internet Explorer 8 today. I need it to test the websites at work. I couldn't care less if my personal sites render properly in IE at this point, but I must accommodate people at work.

I should mention right off the bat that given the way Microsoft takes a dump all over web standards and the hours and hours of grief as a web developer trying to get sites to look proper in IE6, unless IE8 crapped gold nuggets every time I clicked a link I don't think I'd like it.


I wasn't disappointed. IE8 is hate-worthy. A steaming pile of offal. First there was the joy of trying to install it.

Why does installing a web browser require checking my computer for "malicious software"? Why can't I opt out of this? In any case I didn't have to worry about it, because the first time I tried the install, it bombed before it got that far, and demanded that I go to the Windows Update site and install some patch for IE7 before I could continue. Note: I don't have IE7 on my computer. This is a work machine that I kept IE6 on for testing our company websites. This blew my mind.

So I tried to download this patch for IE7, but I couldn't, because I had to get Windows Genuine disAdvantage first. Rage filled me at this point to the point of overflowing. If it was my home computer I'd have stopped right there. But I need this garbage for work, so I held my nose and did it.

Of course the patch required a reboot. Reboot #1.

Now I was able to continue with the install. A slow, plodding download; I think it took 5-10 minutes to do its thing, but it's hard to tell. There was no progress bar to show me how far along it was, nothing to tell me the elapsed time, no indication how large the files were that were being fetched. There is something resembling a progress bar, but it doesn't actually show you much in the way of "progress". Instead a little green thing bounces around like the car from Knight Rider. How much cocaine do you need to imbibe to invent a GUI like this?

Of course IE8 itself required a reboot. Reboot #2.

Why? Installing Firefox and Opera don't require reboots. They download as self-contained .exe installer files. I run them and software appears. This is 2009, for the love of God. Maybe in 20 more years Microsoft will finally manage to re-invent emerge or apt.

The IE8 install, including patching and reboots, took me 45 minutes. If I had to do this on more than one machine, I'd probably jump out the window. How much time have you sucked out of my life, Microsoft? To compare, I decided to install Opera. Opera took less than one minute to download AND install and didn't require a reboot.


When you first open it up, it sends you through a wizard and asks you if you want to enable a bunch of crap. I said no to everything. What the hell is an "Accelerator"? I assumed it was something that tried to make web pages load faster, like the download accelerator scams you used to get popups for all the time in 2001. So I said no.

Turns out "Accelerators" are plugins. Why didn't they call them Plugins? Did some marketroid decide "plugin" wasn't EXTREME enough, so decided to make up their own word? Why do I have to relearn the English language every time someone releases new software? Not Invented Here syndrome?

Windows tried to default me to Live Search, but I give it credit for being upfront in allowing me to turn that crap off and use Google. (No doubt thanks to US anti-trust court proceedings.) 473 wizard dialogs later I had a browser.

The next thing I noticed is more lame attempts to push more Microsoft services at me. In the URL bar every time you type anything, you see this:

Awesome. Is there any way to remove this spamvertisement other than installing Windows Search? If I planned to use IE8, which I don't, I imagine I'd inevitably click that by accident, which is probably the whole idea.

IE8 also added a bunch of useless garbage to my bookmarks toolbar which I insta-deleted. Or tried to. My favorite feature of IE8 by far is this one:

Apparently deleting things from the bookmarks toolbar is just too much for a modern 4-core CPU to handle. Congrats Microsoft. Hang, crash, boom.

There is no menu in IE8 by default. No wait, there is a menu. It's just in the wrong place (lower right side of the top browser area), and instead of readable text it's mostly unlabeled buttons with tiny arrows next to it.

It's like a traditional menu and a fun mystery novel combined! What is in the dropdown next to the house? I'm sure it's a fun surprise.

And actually you can get the old menu to appear too, if you press Alt. Insanity. But it doesn't appear at the top, it appears under the URL bar. One of the few arguably good things about Windows is that programs have consistent GUI parts and work the same way: they have a menu at the top, it's always in the same one place, there's a File and an Edit, and it's predictable. Thanks Microsoft for getting even that wrong.

When I highlight text on a web page, a little blue thing appears that I think I'm supposed to click on. The icon is a bunch of lines and squiggles and an arrow or something. There's no indication what that thing actually does. I clicked it out of curiosity and get a menu full of a bunch of random options like "Search for this". I think this is where ACCELERATORS are supposed to pop up, or something, who cares?

Fonts in IE8 look fuzzy. As a bonus, after installing IE8, fonts in a bunch of other programs (Outlook) are fuzzy now too. Hurrah! IE8, like its predecessors, apparently extends its tendrils into every nook and cranny of your system, corrupting and perverting as it goes. Maybe that's why it needed to reboot my computer twice to install it.

IE8 comes with a Firebug ripoff, which is better than View Source invoking Notepad, but took a full 2 minutes to load when I tried to open it the first time.

IE8 does render my blog properly, which is good. IE7 does too, I think, I only tested it once. I'm not losing sleep over it. Thank you Firefox and Opera: if you didn't exist and put the pressure on, we'd all still be using IE6 and I'd still be writing all my web pages twice to make sure they work in Internet Excrementplorer. As much as I detest IE, if people migrate to IE8 from the shard of utmost evil that is IE6, I'll be happy.

March 20, 2009 @ 5:35 PM PDT
Cateogory: Rants


Quoth numerodix on March 20, 2009 @ 7:46 PM PDT

Thanks for the review, Brian. I'll be honest, it's not like I ever gave it enough thought to be curious. But if I ever did, now I know.

Btw your captcha is like the least annoying captcha of all time. Thanks for thinking of me ;)

Quoth Richard on March 21, 2009 @ 12:56 AM PDT

The next time try They offer an application sandbox which enables to you use browsers like IE8 without installing them on your system.

Quoth Bleys on March 21, 2009 @ 2:11 AM PDT

Reviews like this make me glad that there are things in this world that you really, really hate. It was extremely entertaining. By the way, I'm posting this from my now 100% perfectly functional Ubuntu install, with working bootloader, that runs WoW better than it ran under Windows, so I couldn't install IE8 if I wanted to.

I used to use IE simply for gmail, because I have two accounts and don't want to sign in and out of them all of the time, but Konqueror works fine for the gmail address I seldom use until they finally come up with a Linux port for Chrome.

It's almost kind of freaky that I'm the one using Linux right now, and you're posting about Windows. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?

Quoth Bleys on March 21, 2009 @ 2:18 AM PDT

p.s. I didn't post the above to gloat.

Well, not just to gloat.

Quoth Brian on March 21, 2009 @ 3:21 AM PDT

@numerodix: I wasn't curious either, but work demands it. I'm glad the captcha isn't too bad. It's working so far too. 1550 spams blocked this week. Thanks to the stupidity of bots.

@Richard: Thanks for the link. That product appears to cost money. I don't know that my company would invest in it. Virtual machines would be another option. Both options probably would take way longer than the 45 minutes that I spent installing it the default way.

@Bleys: 'bout time. Also you're allowed to post about Windoze on a Linux blog as long as you say only bad things.

You can also use Opera if you need two browsers, but Konq is pretty good nowadays. The Linux port of Chrome seems to be taking a long time. But you can already install Chromium on Ubuntu easily. See here.

Quoth Heatlesssun on March 22, 2009 @ 5:58 AM PDT

Useless review. All you had to say is that you don't like and it would have been 10 time more accurate and concise than this harangue.

Quoth Brian on March 22, 2009 @ 6:10 AM PDT

I like that word, "harangue". I'm going to start using it more often.

Anonymous Cow
Quoth Anonymous Cow on March 23, 2009 @ 3:38 AM PDT

I admit because I code all day long I have carpal tunnel, and because I have carpal tunnel I had just a little to much wine to easy the pain. But it made your review was fucking funny. Thx.

Quoth Fred on March 25, 2009 @ 7:54 AM PDT

Brian, thanks for a good laugh, most entertaining! :-)

Quoth Tyler on March 26, 2009 @ 4:32 AM PDT

Thanks for the review. You ever figure out how to clear up the issue with fonts in Outlook looking fuzzy? I'm having the same problem now.

Quoth Gus on March 26, 2009 @ 5:11 AM PDT

Nice review. I agree with all your points. As usual, the average user has no clue about good/bad design/function. If IE8 needs to reboot twice and modify the whole system to install, that's obviously how it has to be. It's Microsoft, and it's looks nice, so it has to be good, right? I think you should post this on IE blog, because that's a forum the IE developers read.

Quoth Brian on March 26, 2009 @ 5:21 AM PDT

@Tyler nope, my fonts are still ruined.

@Gus I very much doubt MS cares what I or any other user has to say. Enough people have complained enough about these things over the past decade or two that I'm sure they're aware.

Quoth grays on April 13, 2009 @ 7:14 AM PDT

"...shard of utmost evil that is IE6". I like this. This expresses so many feelings I have about IE6 in one simple statement. On a really bad day, though, I would consider replacing "shard" with "shart". Oh, and nice review by the way.

Quoth Luma on April 29, 2009 @ 6:38 PM PDT

I totally agree with you, this application sucks. I also have a modern 4 core cpu, and a good performance PC, and yet IE 8 hangs and crashes frequently.

Chrome is better, or should I say not as bad.


Juan Ortuno
Quoth Juan Ortuno on November 29, 2009 @ 11:11 AM PST

Very fun, interesting and entertaining blog! I stumbled upon it by searching Google for AD700 vs Grado sr80 review; great review - thanks! I'll add your page to my favs and check it out often.

By the way - I agree with you down to the last bit on everything you mention regarding IE8. I work in IT, and I'm always around computers, so I feel your pain.

Again - thanks for such a great blog!

Quoth Vanessa on December 16, 2009 @ 7:07 AM PST

Yeah... we feel your pain!

One of our developers even wrote a song called "IE is being mean to me" and you can find the video here: or

Hope you like it.

Quoth neodsa on June 16, 2010 @ 4:39 AM PDT

IE8 is an absolute dissaster.It made my machine using vista unusable.I was barely able to get it back to its factory settings using pacard bell repair program.After I had put it back to its factory settings it worked fine , right up to the point where I uploaded the 71 microsoft updates which had in them the upgrade to IE8 , then the whole thing went haywire again.Being naive enough to trust microsoft I went through this lengthy process twice more not suspecting internet explorer was the problem.Then a friend told me he was having problems with his machine and he supected IE8 was the cause.So this final time when I took my poor machine back to year zero the fist thing I did was to disable windows udate regardless of all the frightening red warnings, then put all the security settings (from a reputable company) to max ,download fire fox with yahoo and Im happy to say its working superbly with the earlier edition of internet explorer.What have I to say to microsoft , you are clever people who get paid a lot , I dont expect you to send me a bag of crap!!!!!!