Microsoft Corp released the Internet Explorer (IE) 9, saying that it would work at faster speeds, deliver better graphics and be less obtrusive to users. If you want to download Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 Beta, then check out below.
“People go to the Web for site, not the browser,” said Dean Hachamovitch, general manager for IE, at a press event in San Francisco. “Today Web sites are boxed in, the box is the browser.”
Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 Beta Review: If you’re anything like us, as soon as you get a new PC there’s a laundry list of things you do: uninstall every piece of crapware, change the desktop wallpaper, and fire up Internet Explorer 8 to download a new browser like Firefox or Chrome. Without fail, we’ve repeated that last step on every Windows laptop we’ve reviewed in the last year. Why is it that we almost instantly replace IE with another option? There are lots of reasons, but to name a few… the browser usually comes plastered with toolbars, which makes it painfully slow to load even just a simple news site. And even when those are uninstalled it feels sluggish in comparison to Firefox and Chrome. Also, it’s just not as attractive or intuitive as the others. Oh, and then there are the smaller items, like the fact that it lacks a download manager or uses more RAM than the competition.
That’s no short list of complaints, but you can’t say Microsoft hasn’t been listening. It’s been saying for months that Internet Explorer 9 — which is now available for download as a public beta — will mend all those issues and then some. A lot of the improvements come in speed — Redmond’s been talking about hardware acceleration since November of last year — but there are some other interesting features such as “Pinned Sites” and “One Box” that Microsoft’s been less vocal about. So, does IE9 live up to the hype and will it finally give us a preloaded browser that’s fast enough to run with the others? Should you run along and download it right now? We’ve spent the last week using it as our primary browser on a number of different laptops to find out. We’ll meet again in our full review after the break.
Design and user interface: “Unlocking the beauty of the Web.” That’s Microsoft’s new tag line for Internet Explorer 9, and while it’s marketing jargon at its best, we understand what Redmond’s getting at. The company’s finally realized that, you know, web surfers want to see more web — i.e., less browser and ugly toolbars. And as you can tell from the screenshot above it’s done quite a bit of cleaning up with a new minimalist design that truly focuses on the content. Actually, Microsoft claims with the new design more of a web page can be seen than in Firefox and we were able to confirm that – even if it’s only by a few centimeters. It appears that Chrome actually allows you to see a bit more of a page, but honestly the difference in space really seems insignificant to us.
Most of the layout changes should be pretty obvious: the menu bar has been removed and the navigation controls / address bar are now at the forefront. We don’t need to tell you that it looks a lot like Chrome – our guess is that Google’s not exactly flattered by that since we’re actually feeling the look of IE9 more than the cartoony aesthetic of Chrome, but we realize that’s a personal preference. The compatibility view, refresh and stop buttons have been just latched on to the address bar and there are dedicated favorite and tools buttons on the far right side.
There are some other neat aesthetic additions worth mentioning. Our favorite is the changing color of the backwards and forwards button to match the rest of the site. For instance, when you launch Gmail, it takes a few seconds for the buttons to turn to red. With its glass frame and translucent windows, IE9 really matches the look of Windows 7, and we really see nothing wrong with that.
New features: Microsoft may have tidied up a lot, but IE9 is actually stuffed up with new features. There are a number of new options that make surfing easier, and a few that help integrate browsing better into Windows 7 or, dare we say, Vista (the browser isn’t going to be compatible with XP, as that guy’s headed to the grave). Below are a few of the new features and our impressions of each of them.
* Pinned Sites — This isn’t one of the most obvious new features of IE9, but it may just be our favorite. If you’re anything like us, you keep the same web applications open all day – Gmail, Pandora, Twitter, and Facebook – but mistakenly close them when they are lumped together with a bunch of other sites. IE9 lets you separate out those sites and lock them right to the Windows Taskbar. You drag a site to the bar, and when pinned it pulls the favicon so it looks like it’s actually a separate program. Some sites will also support jump lists, which is the list of shortcuts that appears when you left right click the icons. For instance, we pinned Twitter to our Taskbar and could jump straight to our Direct Mentions, Mentions, etc. We’re hoping more sites build in this functionality — it’s really a neat trick.
* One Box – The address bar in IE9 still doubles as a search field, but it now has more capabilities. The default search engine is obviously Bing, but you can install Google, Wikipedia, Amazon, Facebook and lots of others through the Add-On page. We’re actually becoming bigger fans of Bing by the day, and keeping it as the default search engine has its advantages: typing in terms like “Weather NYC” brought up the temperature and conditions inline, and typing a name like “Hillary Clinton” an image of our lovely Secretary of State. The bar also displays history results.
* Tab functionality – Tabs aren’t new to Internet Explorer, but Microsoft’s added a few new tricks. They’re really easy to snap out of place now, and even if you’re doing something like playing a video in YouTube, detaching it doesn’t lose your place as content is continuously rendered. Like Chrome, there’s now the ability to just shut down one tab when a website starts to hang.Instead of having to shut down the entire browser, you can go into the task manager and just kill that particular tab. The new tab page shows frequently visited sites along with a meter of how actively you visit them. Shocker: Engadget is our most visited site.
* Download manager – Can we get a loud “finally” on this one!? Yes, IE9 adds a real download manager that lets you see what you’ve recently downloaded as well as see the progress of a current download. Our program downloads appeared in the manager, but oddly a picture download didn’t. It also has a SmartScreen Filter, as it’s been dubbed, that alerts you to security issues. Alerts appear within the browser window now rather than as a pop-up. [full ie9 beta full review read here]