cnet review of a week trying IE8

I’ve just been reading Steven Shankland’s review of his week using Internet Explorer 8 as his default browser. I haven’t tried it yet, so I am in no position to offer an opinion of my own. That said, there are a couple of things which stood out when I read the review.

“The sluggishness problem got worse as my Lenovo dual-core laptop’s 3GB memory was taxed by running the 10 or 12 programs I need to do my job. Most days, I shut down my Windows XP work machine once a day without thinking much about it. But during IE 8 week, I found myself craving a fresh start by mid-afternoon. IE 8 didn’t bear the load as gracefully as rivals, especially as the tabs piled up. “

A dual-core machine with 3Gb of memory…? Shut it down once a day…? Mid-afternoon re-start…? Whatever the relationship may be between running 10 or 12 programs and IE, and sluggish performance, I suspect that a lot of Linux users will be raising a quizzical eyebrow at that paragraph. For example, I run Ubuntu on a 2.6GHz Pentium 4 with 1Gb of memory. Before Ubuntu, the same machine ran Java Desktop System. I frequently use the ‘multiple desktop’ feature so that I can have email on one desktop, browser on another, OpenOffice on a third, and so on – though I freely admit I rarely have more than half a dozen applications active at any one time.

However, performance is not an issue, and I have long since forgotten what it’s like to have to reboot a machine part way through the day just to get it to run faster again.

Quite possibly what the cnet review uncovers is a set of parameters for which IE8 was not designed or optimised… but all the front-end gloss in the world is not much use if it’s too slow, or if you have to structure your working day around the need to jump-start it from time to time. I had a 1974 Mini like that once (except without the front-end gloss).