Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Internet Explorer 8 privacy features

Hmm... haven't posted on Microsoft stuff for some time. IE 8 is currently in development and recently the team announced an interesting feature regarding user privacy. This is THE single feature in IE which I so longed for, and I'm glad it's here.

Remember how Apple's Safari web browser has a "private browsing" feature which keeps online activities private (e.g. not saving history), and how Firefox has a "delete private data" option which rids the browser of stored data? I use these features frequently. Soon, IE 8 will finally include a similar feature, or rather, a similar set of features.

InPrivate browsing (what a nice name for private browsing) is a mode which lets you control whether or not IE saves your browsing history, cookies, and other data. Delete browsing history simply deletes traces of your browsing activities. InPrivate Blocking informs you about content that is in a position to observe your browsing history, and allows you to block it, while InPrivate Subscriptions allow you to control the list of sites which InPrivate Blocking blocks or allows.

I think such privacy features, though not new, are very useful in certain situations. For example, for public computers in school where leaving your digital footprint behind for another user to view may be unwanted, or when you use your friend's computer. Yet there are times when you're just casually surfing and don't require the browser to keep traces of your activities. This is also good when you want to clear your browser of all tracking cookies or clean up the history list... at least it can be done in a single click which is more convenient. I'm looking forward to IE 8, and let's hope Microsoft implements this properly.