Microsoft shows IE 8 at Mix

General Manager Dean Hachamovitch focuses on the new features of the browser as well as the company's efforts to make it more standards-compliant.

LAS VEGAS--Microsoft offered its first public demonstration of Internet Explorer 8 on Wednesday, a prospect that had general manager Dean Hachamovitch struggling to figure out what to cover.

"I'm so excited that I had to figure out how to focus," he told the crowd. The marketing folks naturally suggested he point to three major advances, but Hatchamovitch disagreed.

"These are developers," he said he told the marketers. "They can count higher than three."

So, instead he said he would talk about eight features: CSS 2.1 support, CSS Certification, performance, start of HTML 5 support, new developer tools, activities, Web slices and one he hasn't named yet.

Microsoft also said that the first beta of the browser, intended for developers, will be available after today's keynote.

One of the new features, WebSlices, allow users to break a Web site into parts and only get updates from the part they want.

In IE 8 users can subscribe to parts of Web page," Hachamovitch said. He showed an example in IE 8 where users can use Web slices to subscribe to a single eBay auction.

Apple has its own Web-clipping subscription method that is part of Mac OS X.

Separately, Microsoft said it was making available a beta version of Silverlight 2, which will move the technology further beyond delivering video and into creating rich Internet applications.

Among the features of Silverlight 2 is what Microsoft calls adaptive streaming: the ability of the client PC to decide how large a streaming file it can handle at any given moment based on its CPU and network resources.

"If the network gets congested it can drop down to a lower bit rate," said Scott Guthrie a vice president in Microsoft's developer division.

With IE8, Hachamovitch discussed Microsoft's commitment to compatibility. He relayed a story of what his kids used to say whenever they had Internet problems.

"They'd ask 'Daddy, did you break the web?'" Hachamovitch said. "Most of the time I could honestly say 'No.'"

In a broader sense though, Hachamovitch said, that others might disagree that Microsoft, had in fact broken the Web. "Web developers might answer the question differently," he said.

Hachamovitch then went on to talk about Microsoft's commitment to interoperability and steps that it has taken. Microsoft announced earlier this week that IE 8 would use its most standards compliant mode by default. The company said it believed that move would assuage developer concerns as well as regulatory and competitive issues.

However, a top Opera executive told CNET yesterday that Microsoft's move addresses only one of several concerns that the browser maker had raised with the European Commission.