Update: The download links are now live on Microsoft website, so you can grab Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 for Windows Vista, Server 2008, Server 2003 SP2, or XP SP2.

Update #2: It appears to be that the Microsoft installer doesn't like the (supposedly unreleased) Service Pack 1 for Vista as it refuses to install in that platform. One of our readers has also suggested it won't want to install on XP SP3 either. We assume there are ways to circumvent this, just don't be alarmed if you get an error message.

In preparation for the impending launch of Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1, Microsoft has set up a website detailing some of the improvements, changes and new features users can expect to see in the next version of its web browser including two new technologies dubbed WebSlices and Activities.

Activities give users ready access to third-party online services from any page they visit through a right-click contextual menu, allowing them to easily do things like retrieving an address map, submitting a story to Digg, sharing a page on Facebook, and so on. As for WebSlices, this new feature will enable users to crop a specific area on a website and bookmark it for future reference.

Other new features coming in IE8 Beta 1 include a new favorites bar, an improved phishing filter, and a new automatic crash recovery feature which brings back your tabs in case of a browser crash. The beta is widely expected to launch at this year's Mix 08 which begins today. In fact, a download page is already up - though the links are not working as of this writing.