FAQ: Meet Microsoft's new Internet Explorer

All you need to know on the latest beta release of Internet Explorer 8.

How fast is IE8 Beta 2?

According to some quick JavaScript benchmark tests, not fast at all.

Here are the numbers from SunSpider, the benchmarks built by WebKit, the open-source project responsible for the browsing engine used by both Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome. (Note: IE8 Beta 2 won't run either Google's V8 benchmarks or Mozilla's Dromaeo suite without interrupting the tests with one or more error messages noting that "A script on this page is causing Internet Explorer to run slowly.")

In SunSpider, smaller numbers are better.

The bottom line: Chrome is more than three times faster than IE8 Beta 2, and Firefox is over twice as fast.

I've heard IE8 wants more memory than other browsers. What's the story?

That talk is true, according to Craig Barth, the chief technology officer at Devil Mountain Software, a Florida develop that markets a Windows performance test utility to enterprises.

Barth ran IE8 Beta 2 and rivals IE7 and Firefox 3.0 through a 10-site test, loading each site into a separate tab, then loading links from those sites into additional tabs before tallying up the memory hit.

IE8 Beta 2 grabbed 380MB on the 2GB-equipped Windows Vista test machine, while IE7 snatched only 250MB and Firefox 3.0.1, the most-recent version of the open-source browser, took just 159MB.

"IE8 is epically porcine," said Barth last week in an interview. " Microsoft has gone to epic levels of bloat."

Later in the week, Barth reran the 10-site test to include Google's Chrome, but reached the same conclusion: IE8 Beta 2 consumed more memory than Chrome, IE7 or Firefox.

(See Google's Chrome vs. IE8)

How do I get rid of IE8?

You can boot IE8 Beta 2 off the PC using the usual Windows uninstall process. In Windows XP, for example, choose "Settings/Control Panel" from the Start menu, then launch "Add or Remove Programs." Check the "Show updates" box at the top, scroll until you locate "Windows Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2," then click on the "Remove" button. The process is similar in Vista. Windows reverts to IE7, with any previously-added security updates still in place.

Where do I go for IE8 support?

Microsoft's set up free phone support for IE8 Beta 2. Staffed from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. PDT Monday through Friday, and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. PDT on weekends, the toll-free line is available only to North American customers and will handle questions about installation, set-up and usage, according to Microsoft's support site. Also available: An FAQ and a user-to-user newsgroup.

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Gregg Keizer

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