Forget about Internet Explorer 7. The wait is finally over. Microsoft has wrapped up the final version of Internet Explorer 8 and made the bits available for download. That's right, the gold bits of Internet Explorer 8 are now up for grabs, as the links for the RTW (release to web) variant of the browser went live just ahead of the deadline announced initially, namely noon EDT on March 19. At the time of this article, Microsoft had yet to announce the official launch of Internet Explorer 8 RTW via its official channels.
“With the Internet Explorer 8 platform, Microsoft creates opportunities for Web sites to engage customers in new ways and drive not only more traffic, but also more value in the online experience,” said Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of the Internet Explorer team at Microsoft.
UPDATE: The official download links for IE8 gold are now up and running. Internet Explorer 8 is designed to integrate with Windows XP (including SP2 and SP3), Windows Vista RTM and SP1 as well as Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2003. The first wave of IE7's successor will be served in the following languages today: Arabic, Chinese (Traditional, Simplified and Hong Kong), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal), Polish, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. Microsoft has not disclosed its plans for additional releases of Internet Explorer 8.
Earlier today reports emerged indicating that the final build number of Internet Explorer 8 was 8.00.6001.18702. This is indeed correct as the screenshots included with this article prove. Moreover, the full version number of IE8 RTW is 8.00.6001.18702 (longhorn_ie8_rtm (wmbla) .090308-0339.
In a first phase, Microsoft will make IE8 RTW exclusively available for download. Moving forward, the Redmond company will offer the browser through Windows Update. The last phase in the IE8 delivery process involves serving the browser through Automatic Updates. In the final wave, all IE6 and IE7 users running an IE8-supported platform with AU enabled will have Internet Explorer 8 automatically downloaded and installed on their machines.
Internet Explorer 8 RTW is not available for Windows 7, as the next iteration of the Windows client and server operating systems comes with its own flavor of the browser.
Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) RTW is available for download here (for 32-bit and 64-bit flavors of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008).