Yesterday, the IE team posted a comment about what's next for IE8. I didn't get much out of this except for the fact that the next set of bits will be available in early 2009 and will include all the major enhancements, which includes feature adds and performance tweaks -- and let's hope they're significant because IE8b2 is slower than IE7 for me. It sounds like this next release will be a release candidate (RC), but that statement was very non-commital, so it may end up being beta 3. Either way, it sounds like this next one will be the last pre-release before the final version. There's still no word on when that will be, but with speculation that Windows 7 will be out in late 2009, it would make a lot of sense to see it just a little earlier than that release, so it's bundled with the new OS.
I won't confirm or deny anything about what I've heard about the Windows 7 release, but IE8 has most definitely slipped past internal deadlines. I know the team has thought about IE9, but as we drive past one milestone after another for IE8, there's no telling when that'll happen -- not that I don't have a guess I can't say I'm surprised, tho. The timelines I saw for IE8 and 9 were very ambitious; especially, when you consider how long it took IE7 to come to market. Of course, that comes more from neglect than anything. I should say that those timelines were very rough and only touched on some high level things to look forward to. What's surprised me with IE8 so far is that it's missing one of the things I could swear I heard about over a year ago. Maybe it was pushed back -- although, I didn't see it in the IE9 slide deck -- or maybe I'm just crazy. Either way, I hope it sees the light of day, because it sounded extremely exciting from a productivity standpoint.