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Pretty much every web developer I know uses Firefox as their browser of choice (apart from a handful of vocal Opera fanboys — you know who you are). Plugins like Firebug, Greasemonkey and the Web Developer Toolbar take a good browser and turn it into an indispensable development tool.

But what about for just browsing? Given the recent inroads Microsoft have made in terms of CSS support, development tools, security and privacy, would you ever consider switching (back) to IE?

Today Microsoft released Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 (download from microsoft.com). While I haven’t had long to play with it, early indications are that Microsoft are making good on their promise to fully support CSS2.1 and pass the Acid2 test (without including non-standard markup) by the time it is out of beta.

The one new feature that seems to be most talked about, however, is the InPrivate browsing mode, which allows users to browse web sites undetected. When InPrivate browsing mode is enabled, the user’s browsing history, temporary Internet files, form data, cookies, usernames and passwords are not recorded.

Of course, this is functionality that has been available via one of a number of Firefox plugins for some time. However it’s interesting that Microsoft have chosen to incorporate it as core functionality (perhaps an attempt to tap into new markets?).

Also interesting is IE8’s InPrivateBlocking mode, which blocks the display of content that a web site pulls in from a third party, thus preventing those third party sites from tracking user browsing behaviour. Given that some of the ads blocked by this feature could theoretically include those served up by their own advertising platform, IE8 could impact negatively on Microsoft’s slice of the lucrative online advertising pie.

How do you think IE8 is shaping up? Based on the beta release, would you consider switching from your current browser to IE8? Let us know in the comments.

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