IE 8 Pulled Out of the Fire
I've been getting mail from dozens of IE 8 beta and release candidate users and the reports aren't good. The pre-release software was flakier than French pastry. So I asked you all to report how well the finished product
performs. Somehow, Microsoft pulled off a massive turnaround. This puppy is fast, stable and compatible.
This probably isn't enough to sway Firefox and Chrome fans, but for IE shops it looks like a nice step forward. With IE 8 looking solid and Windows 7 on the way, Microsoft is looking at a major desktop redemption. Tell me where I'm wrong at firstname.lastname@example.org.
'Vista Compatible' Ruled a Loose Term
PC buyers upset that Vista either didn't function or barely worked on new low-end machines have failed for the second time to get any kind of recompense. The first wallop of bad news is when the class-action status of a suit claiming damages because Vista wasn't as compatible as the logos said was tossed out.
Now, I'm no fan of most class-action actions because each plaintiff usually pockets pennies while the lawyers walk away with millions. But in this case, a class action is the only option. If each plaintiff only suffered tens or hundreds of dollars in damages, it's hard to pay for a lawyer good enough to take on Microsoft.
Even without class-action status, the suit dragged on -- only to encounter another setback when the same judge, Marsha Pechman (likely an XP user) denied a proposed summary judgment that would've declared the proposed Vista requirements deceptive.
The ever-weakening lawsuit continues, but with this judge's attitude Microsoft may as well pop the champagne corks now!
Mimosa Not Just for Breakfast Anymore
Mimosa Systems made its name in Exchange archiving. Now the California-based company is setting its sights on SharePoint, a tool that's creating its own growing third-party market.
Mimosa NearPoint for Office SharePoint Server doesn't just archive SharePoint documents, Mimosa executives argue, but does so in a way that saves on storage and energy costs. That's because an optical archive uses less power than a hard drive that whirrs more than a hippy at a Phish concert. Users of NearPoint for Exchange can use the same management console, so in a sense the SharePoint is just an add-on to what you've already got.
Are you using SharePoint? If so, how? And are you using any third-party tools? Experiences welcome at email@example.com.
Your Turn: IT Gone Good
Two-and-a-half years ago, I wrote a story about IT abusing its power -- blackmailing executives, spying, stealing and sexually harassing.
I'd love to do the opposite, to show where IT uses its power for good. Do you volunteer and use your skills for good? Does your organization itself do good and have IT systems to support those efforts? If so, tell me your tale at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Turn: Green IT
Do you care about green technology? Is there pressure to save energy? Have you pushed any green initiatives, such as virtualization? Are there ways to use Microsoft software more efficiently and has Microsoft told you about them?
Help me spread the green word by writing email@example.com.
Mailbag: Cheers (and Some Jeers) for IE 8
As Doug mentioned, most of you who tried the final version of IE 8 were pretty pleased. Here's what some of you said about it:
I loaded IE 8 on my PC at work. No compatibility problems so far. It's pretty peppy, and I love the "Accelerator" feature (e.g., highlight a word and launch a Google search in a new tab). Another nice organizational feature is coloring related (spawned) tabs.
I also loaded IE 8 64-bit at home on my dual-core Vista 64. Very quick Web action!
Since the release of IE 8, I have done additional testing at work and home and I have found the released version to be quite good. I have noticed a speed improvement -- not by leaps and bounds but something noticeable. I have not had a single crash or freeze. I have tested many sites and tried to focus on some of the problem sites. However, all is well. Overall, I'm quite happy with IE 8.
For the past few months, I've been using Windows 7 (build 7000) for my primary workstation, with IE 8 as my primary browser. Under XP, I used Firefox because of speed and security; I avoided IE 7 except for those sites that didn't render properly in Firefox.
On my Windows 7 install, I haven't even installed Firefox. For one site that I've had problems with, I use a portable version of Firefox. This may also say something for the unbundling proponents.
I downloaded IE 8 last Friday. My primary driver was that some change on my system had introduced a bug into IE 7 about a week before, so I was hoping that IE 8 would resolve it. IE 8 reported that one of the HP add-ons was incompatible, so I disabled that. It's running fine with no problems.
The concepts in IE 8 are great. Accelerators are a great way to get things done quickly. Group tabs are cool. I haven't noticed a huge difference in speed of presentation of pages -- maybe a slight edge but the real issue is speed of Internet connection and that varies quite a bit. Web Slices will take time to come of age but the concept is good. The SmartScreen Filter is probably helpful for casual users. No stability issues. For me, IE 8 is a mature version of IE 7 and group tabs are a sensible development. Glad to have it and I expect that a rich set of accelerators and Web Slices in due course will be a great improvement. I'm also glad that my IE 7 bug is gone.
I got the final release yesterday night on Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1, updated using a very slow Acer 5103WLi Laptop connected to a Wi-Fi network at 2Mbps. The effect was immediate: IE 8 transformed my machine into a FERRARI! Thank you, Microsoft!
I moved from the beta to the final version yesterday. Even in beta, I did not find any issues and IE 8 is and will be my default browser. The installation and automatic removal of the previous version was very smooth.
After countless problems with both beta versions, the version released Wednesday hasn't crashed one single time. I am amazed at the difference in speed and reliability this has over the beta. I think the biggest problem was that add-ons on IE 7 didn't work in IE 8. Best way to use this new IE 8 is to uninstall all add-ons before you download, and wham! It runs like a jewel. I even changed my default back from Mozilla to IE 8, if you can believe that.
I downloaded twice yesterday, once for Vista Ultimate and once for XP Pro. The downloads were very fast on my slow DSL. IE 8 installed well on both machines and works well on both machines.
I had a little trouble with adding favorites. I looked for the old icon and didn't notice the text line in the favorites drop-down. I accidentally wound up at the Windows Live Favorites, an idea that is pretty cool but I'll look into it in greater detail later. I always seem to choose search terms for Help that don't help me much but after a few tries I found out how simple it now is to add a favorite...to the local list. So far, IE 8 is great. No problems. I am happy.
But a couple of readers report that there's still some work to be done on IE 8:
This "improvement" isn't. I lose a significant amount of time trying to close stalled windows that didn't load properly and the app crashes far too often. If one gets too close to an ad, the ad opens and takes precedence over where you are legitimately trying to go.
I tried to go back to 7 but short of F-disk, I couldn't get there. Will MS ever learn?
I tried IE 8 again and the same issue that prevented me before is still active. Our fundraising software, GiftWorks, depends on all the little MS pieces working together and IE 8 breaks those little pieces. Perhaps in time they will patch the software so that I can try again but at the moment the fundraising trumps my trials of other stuff. Good luck with that review.
Adobe Flash Player still will not install on IE 8.
I installed IE 8 at home last Thursday and soon found Web sites it would not connect to (for example, http://www.richersounds.co.uk and http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002).
I have downloaded the RC and that worked great. Yesterday, I downloaded the final version...huh. It keeps logging in and logging out continuously. What a pain! Logs me in and out every three seconds.
Irritated by a non-story that made headlines last week about Microsoft definitely not buying The New York Times, Doug asked readers how they feel about the news media. Here are your responses:
In the interest of being fair to real journalists, I think what they do in terms of exposing government flaws cannot be accomplished by the average citizen. My local newspaper does some pieces yearly that keep the public informed in a way that your average blogger or paparazzi-style journalist can't touch. For instance, they publish all the local government employees' top money earners -- county, cities, the local air base. You might be surprised to know that our county administrator makes twice as much as the president of the United States. What blogger or paparazzi could dig up that kind of information? Another of their more valuable exercises is to expose the extent to which government agencies comply with the Freedom of Information Act. Many local agencies have taken taken steps to improve their ability to provide the public with public records.
Apologist? I don't think I am. Journalists are humans and have their faults. But I think we are going to lose a valuable service when all the print journalists aren't in business anymore.
Personally, I think the news media is whatever the consumers choose to make it. If enough people give their attention to biased, sensationalist, inaccurate or just poor reporting, then the advertisers will take note and they will give the people all they want. It is the consumer's responsibility to find a journalistic source that is credible.
My other thought is that a lot of this has come about because of 24-hour news shows. You have to fill the space with something and the more viewers, the better.
Because of all the "spin," I believe very little of what media alleges. Only after confirmed by other reports (not by the name publisher) will I begin to pay attention.
I generally find your thoughts to be cogent and responsible. However, in last Friday's newsletter, you wrote: "I defend the press often. When readers complain of spelling errors, I point out just how many words the average editor processes per day."
Isn't this akin to saying that coding errors by programmers should be overlooked due to the number of lines of code written? Or that errors in manufacturing or assembly should be forgiven when you consider the number of products produced? If writing is your craft, I find little excuse for spelling or grammatical errors. (And let's not even start on the questions of clarity, style or accuracy.)
Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.