First thoughts about IE8 - it is much faster than IE7! (As IE8 and IE7 don't work together - IE8 installs over IE7, this is more subjective than a quantitative measurement)
Once you hide all the toolbars, IE8's new interface is just as clean as Chrome's. (Though I like how Chrome doesn't have a Title Bar - that much saved real-estate).
Chrome also doesn't have a permanent status bar. It uses a temporary status bar that appears whenever Chrome needs to show updates - otherwise it remains hidden.
After making sure that IE8 had all add-ons disabled, I loaded the following page into both browsers: http://news.google.com/nwshp?hl=en&tab=wn and then waited a minute for the 2 browsers to settle. And I was surprised by the results. I was expecting Chrome to have a much smaller foot-print. But take a look at my Task Manager snap-shot:
IE8 is using 51,408K of memory and its virtual memory footprint is 38,700K. On the other hand Chrome is using 47,292K of memory and has a virtual memory footprint of 31,752K. Very close to each other. (What I did see was that after about a minute - Chrome was still using the CPU - regularly hitting 13% CPU usage. Whereas IE8 had settled completely and did not show up as using any of the CPU - cpu usage 0%).
Another thing that surprised me was that both IE8 and Chrome spawned 2 processes - even though I had only a single page open in both of them. With Chrome, this behavior is understandable, because it sand-boxes each browser tab. Which means that I can shut down the second process of Chrome using the task manager and Chrome will still be alive and standing. This is an awesome feature in Chrome that is not available in any other browser. (Many times I would have one of my browser tabs misbehave and bring down my entire browser's session and has caused me heart aches many a time).
Chrome's Aw, Snap! page, shown when I shut down the second Chrome process which I assumed to be the process supporting my current browsing tab. If I were instead to shut down the first process - then the entire Chrome browser is taken down. But I doubt that would ever happen in the real world, where a browsing session within a tab is able to affect the entire browser. (There is no good way to determine which is the parent browser process for either IE8 or Chrome. You will know when you kill it using the task manager - because the entire browser will go down).
Screen shot below - Chrome - the 3rd tab was killed and it shows the Aw, Snap! icon, all others remain unchanged and preserve their session.
Now here is another surprising thing that I did not know about IE8. It seems to support sandboxing of some format too. If you have multiple tabs open - with each one pointing to a different page and if you shut one of the browsing processes, IE8 doesn't completely shutdown. Instead only the affected tab dies. All other tabs preserve their session as though nothing happened.
And in case the entire browser session goes down - when you load up IE8 again - it asks you if you want it to load your previous session and allows you to bring up all the tabs that you were previously browsing. (Notice in the above screen shot that even though I have 4 tabs open - there are only 3 IE processes - weird - I would have thought there should have been one for each tab, plus one for the master process).
Chrome too has this feature: (where if the entire browser dies, the next time you load it up - it asks you if you would like to restore all open browser tabs from the previous session).
Conclusion: Both IE8 and Chrome support sand-boxing. Chrome seems to do it just a little bit better. But the feature exists in both browsers and you can browse the Internet feeling more secure that a rouge web-page wont crash your work that you might be doing in another tab.
IE8 and Chrome look and feel about the same.
Chrome might be just a tad bit faster in loading some pages.
Chrome saves real estate by getting rid of the title bar and doesnt have a permanent status bar. (This I like, very much!)
IE8 and Chrome have almost the same memory footprint.
Both browsers support sand-boxing of tabs and one tab's crash doesnt bring down all the other tabs.
hmmm.... not much different there..... !