First, a few words about the following screenshot. To be perfectly clear, this is not an original image. The window and its contents (address bar, tab, window title, page content) have been heavily recomposited to better fit in a smaller image size as well as to obscure any traces where this might have come from. I did not take the screenshot nor do I have access to the beta (so no emails please but do send bribes regardless). Having said that, I can easily vouch for its authenticity.
It appears Internet Explorer 8 doesn’t stray far from the new hybrid menu/toolbar interface of Internet Explore 7, not in Beta 1 at least. Contrary to the ribbon-interface speculation, I think after the rather drastic transition from IE6 to IE7, a more consistent user interface is a good thing as users won’t waste any time relearning how to use a browser.
From top to bottom, the address bar now boasts a new UI trick being able to highlight just the domain in the URL. It’s a very insignificant change but its something that you wish you had thought of. It’s a smart thing to do because it dramatically decreases the risk from domain phishing attacks – where it convinces you to click on “paypal.com” actually taking you to “paypal.com.maliciouswebsite.com”.
The search box now sports the ability to display an icon for the search provider you have currently selected. Currently in IE7, it only displays the name of the search provider in italics which unfortunately means as soon as you type something, it removes any indication of which search you’re using unless you manually click the drop-down button. Glad that’s fixed.
The bookmarks menu makes a much welcomed return above the tabs having endured a year of seclusion inside the side-pane. You can now bookmark links to always appear on this menu bar and I might add is no longer separated by an ugly black line, as well as access to all your other bookmarks accessible from the “Favorites” button.
Last but not least, the whole toolbar has received a very subtle color change. Those who were a fan of #C5DEFA will now have to face up to #C1D5ED. Tough love.