Hello to all, search crawlers, people, robots, and organisms reading this review!
Many of you know that I’ve done some work reviewing and testing software and products. These were hosted on Eurpod.com, which shamefully hasn’t been updated for around a year now, due mainly to the fact that I can’t edit the visual layout of the page and would have to constantly ask my cousin to do this for me, a task I do not enjoy indulging in. For this reason, Eurpod.com itself hasn’t been updated. With the recent shutdown of my host, the pages are on my cousin’s server, and that’s exactly why all subdomains have been deactivated (Subdomains are sites like http://books.eurpod.com, http://translate.google.com… In other words, they have something.website.com as their address).
Alas, I never abandened my beta testing dreams, nor did I stop writing articles. Lot of these were never posted online or given to anyone. As time passes, I will upload these
as notes here on Facebook, and various forums.
Today, I wish to reveal some of the latest Microsoft Internet Explorer developments. I am subscribed with Microsoft Connect, having been invited to test
Microsoft Windows Home Server a year ago by Kevin Beares. Although my Home Server testing project turned out more like a disaster rather than an accomplishment,
it nevertheless made me become aware of some of Microsoft’s projects. Connect participants do not receive much beta or exclusive content from Microsoft,
but rather we have direct ways of submitting feedback to the company.
Recently, connect has made me aware of a new program Microsoft set up, dubbed “internet explorer beta feedback”.
I signed up, and although at the time did not download the latest beta of Internet Explorer 8, I have read up on some of it’s features so I know what to
Internet explorer 8:
Microsoft is known for losing. They have been competing for many years with other companies, such as Mozilla and to a degree, Apple. Mainly, the downfall
of Microsoft began after they delayed Windows Longhorn, ur Vista, for over 2 years of time. No, 3! This gave chance for Apple to climb up the hill so to
say, and release Lepoard. Not only this ; It gave an oppertunity for Mozilla to regain ground and outwit what was back then, Internet Explorer 6. So, Microsoft today isn’t the company we knew yesterday.
Internet explorer is well-known for defeating Netscape, which back in the mid-90s was the leading web-browsing organization. Internet Explorer began to
slack off with Ie5, released in 2000, with not many major new functions. IE6 followed this same pattern, and that’s when the company began considering
shutting down the IE Team altogether. It’s tough living a market without putting in new features. IE7 was meant to be a sort of “Strike-back'” on the
market, but even with that release, Mozilla was ahead of MS a few steps.
Now, I do not hate Microsoft , they’re a great company. I’ve seen some of the changes over the years, and as I write this I feel that the popularity of Microsoft
is slightly being drawn back. Again, mainly to crude mistakes such as mentioned before.
IE8 is meant to be a revolutionary release, in a sense. Complaints from customers lead Microsoft to enforce several changes. (By the way, I bet you’ll be
seeing lot of the “We listen to our customers!” type talk from Microsoft because of this).
Here is a quick rundown of the various new things those dear and enriched customers have reported. Later on, we’ll take a look at the glitchy accessiblity
existing in IE8, and how all of us can help ease the transition AT companies will make after or hopefully before the final version roles around.
New GUI: The Interface Speculation
Many have reported complaints that the User Interface that currently lies in IE7 is too tall, and large. Not only this, people dislike the way toolbar buttons
are layed out, and the fact that you can’t really change the appearance of Internet Explorer. Now, as a Visually Impaired user of the product, I of course
do not care for all that, and would rather prefer using something that’s sccreen-reader accessible. In no doubt the new UI that Microsoft is cooking up
will cause us problems.
Thank god they abandoned the plan for using the new Office Ribbon style layout! It sucks with accessibility!
Web slices: Thousand Miles better Than feeding!
Microsoft is taking upon creating a new and unique way of bringing content to your computer. Developers can specifically assign a section of a website as
“a Web slice”. Once this is detected by the browser, you can subscribe to the slice, and the contents of it will automatically be updated on the go. Great
isn’t it? Facebook is supposed to offer such a slice with your friend’s update, though I haven’t had much luck installing the slice on this laptop.
Activities: Be interactive! Share! Develop! Translate! Transfer!
Another new way of interacting with websites, this new and amazing feature will no doubt enlighten everyone’s life. Activities are very interesting little
How it works:
You subscribe to an activity, by clicking a link on a webpage. Of course, you’re asked to do so. Once this is complete, you can select a text on a webpage
and directly interact with it. For example, if you were to select and highlite this line, you can right click it with your mouse and bring up a menu Visually, a small tag appears and pops out at you. Activities let you do such things as translate the text, publish it on a blog, or share
ot on various sites — yes, even Facebook!
Safety filter: The Phishing Catch is Now for Safety!!!
Remember the phishing filter dialog you got when you used Internet explorer for one of the first times? If you want to turn it on, or leave it off? And
if you opened a site that looks like a fish, you would be notified how unsafe it may be?
Well, it’s back, with a little revamp! The Safety Filter is more intuetive than the Phishing one, and I do give Microsoft major credit for designing this.
Not only does the Safety Filter check websites on the go and if they are safe, but also lets you manually enter a website to check. The option is well
under the tools menu, and you simply click the “Check This website” option, where you can be directly told if it’s safe to visit and ccontinue browsing
it. You also have a direct way to report the website you’re currently on as unsafe.
Internet Explorer 8 brings up something you see when first starting Windows Media Player. This is perhaps the first feature you’ll notice when you run the
8 release: You are presented with a nice, graphically amazing and hot looking dialog, where you have to choose between express set up, or custom. Know the drill…
For now, at least in the beta, you can emulate IE7 directly by clicking a button in the tool-bar, called Emulate IE7. This lets you view the webpage exactly
how it would look in Internet Explorer 7.
Accessibility: I see the Jaws clamping!
Not surprisingly, IE8 does have glitches from the start. Although JAWS and other screen readers recognize and load the proper Internet Explorer Scripts, you doo see several
Activities work just fine:
Once you’ve selected the text, my recommendation is to right click with your mouse, or if you are using JAWS, root the JAWS-cursor to the RPC-cursor. Then
you can right click and with the arrows, select a desired activity. A new window will open allowing you to listen to the webpage. It would, however, stilll
be nice if we could use a keyboard shortcut and not have to toy around with the mouse.
I am quite unsure on the accessibility of slices, but it looks as though conflicts will come out of this one. To access a slice, you have to click something
between the command and favorites toolbar. This is quite inconvient. It means that you have to use the mouse again.
Paragraphs: What happened! Oh!
Another problem which I just noticed here whilest writing this note and filling in forms with other sites is that when creating a new paragraph, and jumping
back to the end of your typing with the CTRL+End key, You are jumped back to some other line of your paragraph. This can be frustrating. If you go back
to the top of your work and start arrowing down, you’ll notice that JAWS will not read on after the first paragraph. You can press your arrows as many
times, but it will not advance to the next paragraph. Right now, I don’t know any work around to the issue, but it might be a reason for me to switch
back to Ie7, knowing that I write a lot and like to create paragraphs when switching between topics. Like now.
Conclusions and Final thoughts
Well. We’re still on beta 1, mainly orientated towards a developer community. This beta was released a while back, and I expect a beta 2 release soon. Beta 2 will be released more towards the consumer.
My main goal, however, with testing IE8 through is to submit problems we as the blind community might have and hopefully avoid another unsupported IE. I am not so concerned with Serotek and GW-micro, but the atitude Freedom Scientific has displayed regarding their accessibility schemes is quite ridiculous.
Not only this, but I hope that this review, which many probably have stopped reading by now due to it’s size, has enlightened some to what’s coming in IE8. I expect other major functionality to be added in future Beta releases, or else I wouldn’t call this release Internet Explorer 8. 7.5, maybe.