Microsoft's updated browser, Internet Explorer 8.0, promises an assortment of new features designed to help make web browsing with IE safer, easier, and more compatible with internet standards.

We looked at the first release candidate of the new browser, Internet Explorer 8.0 Release Candidate 1 (RC1). On the surface, IE 8 seems to be a lot like IE 7, but Microsoft has made a number of changes under the hood. You may have seen some of these new features already, however, in IE's no-longer-upstart competitor, Mozilla Firefox 3.0.

Internet Explorer 8.0: tabbed browsing

If you accidentally close a browser window in IE 8, you can opt to restore it when you reopen the program (just as you can in Firefox). Internet Explorer 8.0 will use color coding to group related tabs together. If you open a link from in a new tab, for example, it will open adjacent to the original tab, and the tabs themselves will have a matching colour. You can move tabs from one group to another, but if you have three unrelated pages open, you cannot create a group out of them.

Perhaps the most novel addition in IE 8 is what Microsoft calls tab isolation. The feature is designed to prevent a buggy website from causing the entire web browsing program to crash. Instead, only the Internet Explorer 8.0 tab displaying the problematic page will close, so you can continue browsing.

Of course, IE 8 RC1 retains some of the features introduced in the first beta, including WebSlices and accelerators.