IE8 focused on how people really use the web. Consumers want a browser that makes the tasks they do every day faster and easier. The activities people spend their time on define real-world performance: navigating to websites, working with tabs, searching, keeping track of changing information (like traffic or an auction), and using the information from one site with another (as in getting a map).
Everyone wants a trustworthy browser that keeps them in control and protects their safety. Developers want great developer tools, great interoperability, and a powerful platform that enables them to innovate. For some people, accessibility is crucial; for some organizations, policy, administration, and deployment are essential.
BBC News have their take on it and talk about whether or not IE8 has the goods to win back the hearts of many users who felt the need to switch to an alternative such as Firefox in the past.
If you'd like to give it a shot, you can find it for download here.