175 days after Internet Explorer Beta 1 was released, the new Beta 2 is out and ‘ready for everyone’ as opposed to just developers. While there are some solid improvements (e.g., implementations of Firefox’s ”Awesome Bar”, and Ubiquity like “Accelerators") it yet again misses the mark on standards compliance. The same trouble with Generated Content I reported from Beta 1 is actually worse in Beta 2, causing the tab to completely crash when you mouse over the thumbnail images. I can only assume IE8 hates CSS Generated Content. It first fails to generate it, and then it crashes the tab completely. Try it yourself by hovering your mouse over the thumbnails on this page (or any other thumbnails on this site).
On the plus side, the ’stolen features’ are implemented better here than in Firefox 3. The IE8 “Awesome Bar” groups relative to result type, which is much nicer to scan with your eyes (personally I’d use the space better by having the results in columns rather than rows - many people have excess horizontal space, so lets use it hey?). Also, while Ubiquity concentrates on a natural language interface (select an address, then type “map” to see a Google map of the address) IE8’s Accelerator behaviour is even better, requiring nothing more than highlighting the address - up pops a list of options, one of which is to map it in Google Maps. Spot on.
While the new toys are great, the IE team still need to get the basics right. Having a tab crash when all it’s doing is using valid standards complient CSS2.1 is a big problem.