Saturday, April 7, 2007

Internet Explorer 8 and the semantic web

With IE7 slowly gaining back some of the lost market share from Firefox, Microsoft is already working on Internet Explorer 8. And because of the threat from the rapidly evolving, open-source Firefox, IE8 is going to be one of the most radical updates to the browser.

The keyword for IE8 at this point seems to be "semantics", focusing on the context rather than simply the content. When you go to a website, IE8 scans and analyzes the content of the page to find out what the page is about, and then looks for additional information, whether it be ratings for a movie or the download link for a software. The retrieved information can be viewed in the sidebar, a new tab, or a pop-up window. It is also extensible so, although by default when you go to a page about a movie, you get information from IMDB only, with third party add-ons, you can can add that movie in your NetFlix cue, buy it from Amazon or eBay, or simply download it using BitTorrent.

The UI is also undergoing significant changes, becoming somewhat a hybrid of the tradition browser UI and the Office Ribbon. When visiting certain websites the UI morphs to display new buttons and options. For example when you visit MSN Soapbox, a button that allows you to upload videos, appears on the toolbar.

IE8 also improves the RSS Reader, and finally adds a download manager that can continue downloads across multiple sessions. Support for CardSpace and microformats also contribute towards making Internet Explorer 8 a true competition to Firefox.