For the longest time, it seemed as though Microsoft was just going to sit back and let Firefox crush it. Perhaps overconfident in Firefox's inability to be controlled through Group Policy on the enterprise level, Microsoft didn't think the Mozilla browser to be much competition. Boy, was it wrong. Google's Chrome (still in beta) is also getting some good buzz on the individual user front. But the Redmond giant has taken some serious steps to ensure it doesn't surrender more of market share in the Browser Wars.
For one thing, Microsoft has been focusing intently on compatibility with Web standards -- I know, not a traditional Microsoft tactic, but a wise one on the company's part. In addition to simply passing the independent Web Standards Project group's Acid2 test, Microsoft's goal with IE 8 is to fully support the World Wide Web Consortium's CSS 2.1. For developers, this means Web sites developed to comply with standards will be compatible across multiple browsers, including IE.
But what about the enterprise world? Well, that world may encompass a variety of different user types from those who sit at a desk all day long to those on the go. From the traveling user (one who may be using IE on shared or public computers), there is a new InPrivate Browsing mode. Suppose you sit down at an Internet cafe and need to perform a variety of private tasks (such as logging in to your online e-mail or OWA to your company e-mail): You use InPrivate Browsing mode, and your data from that session will not be saved.
As for in-house protection, IE has come a long way in terms of protecting people from security risks. In fact, when working in conjunction with Windows Vista, IE is even more secure than Firefox and Chrome because the OS itself is assisting in the protection process. Data Execution Prevention (DEP) is on by default with IE 8, and when working with Vista SP1, it can prevent damage to your systems from viruses and other malicious code because it prevents the code from writing to executable memory space.