Microsoft Wednesday said it would ship the next beta of Internet Explorer 8 in August and detailed a number of new features to help ease companies' deployment and management of the browser.
Microsoft said it has improved "slipstreaming" capabilities that will make it easier for IE 8 to be tied to Vista so they can be deployed in tandem. The company also is updating the IE Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) and the IE Administration Kit (IEAK), and said it will use Group Policy settings to aid in application compatibility and add enhancements to help recover faster from crashes. The vendor plans to include all the IE 8 updates in Beta 2 of the software due out in August.
Writing on the company’s IE blog, Jane Maliouta, IE program manager; and James Pratt, IE product manager, said Microsoft has heard loud and clear that users want easier ways to add IE to their operating system images.
Today, the two wrote, it takes roughly two hours to make sure that IE 7 gets deployed as part of the installation of Windows XP. "To slipstream IE8 [with Vista installation] only takes 10 to 15 minute per image," the two wrote. "You’ll also be able to slipstream IE8 cumulative updates so that you are shipping the most up-to-date and secure image."
In terms of applications compatibility, Microsoft is adding new events to ACT that detect and resolve issues between IE 8 and internal applications or Web sites. Group Policy enhancements allow administrators to dial down individual settings that can derail compatibility.
IEAK, which has been available since IE 6, is getting a makeover and new features including support for custom builds of IE 8 for Vista, Windows Server 2008, and such IE 8 features as Activities and Web Slices.