Internet Explorer 9 Beta, Ready To Knock Your Socks Off

It’s Wednesday morning 15 September and I am on the Microsoft IE9 Beta site, waiting patiently for it to change and show me the link to download the IE9 Beta.

Web browsing is probably the most active thing done on today’s PC. With so many people connected and browsing you want to have the best experience possible. Web browsers give you that experience.

Microsoft Internet Explorer is by far the most widely used internet browser in use today. But it has lost ground to it’s competitors since 2004. Mainly Firefox and Chrome. But with the release of IE8 and now IE9 Microsoft look to regain their previous glory.

Microsoft says there are five major new features:

  • HTML 5 support
  • Reduced Interface
  • More Performance
  • App Tabs for the Taskbar
  • Aero Snap
  • Better Plug in support

HTML 5 support

IE8 supports only 27% of HTML5 features, while IE9 is believed to reach 81%. In comparison to Microsoft Intern Explorers competitors, Firefox 4 is expected to be at 96%, Chrome 7 at 96% and Opera 10.7 at 77%. Still a ways off, but we hope for more.

Reduced Interface

Google Chrome seems to have set the standard with reduced interface. Many believe that a reduced interface translates into more performance. Well a perceived performance, that is. A cleaner more slick looking browser.

More Performance

One of the biggest issues with previous versions of Internet explorer was its performance. Microsoft is set to change that. IE9 will utilize DirectX hardware acceleration to improve graphic and AJAX rendering. It will push more work towards the GPU. Also they will be making good use of multi-core processors by putting some computing onto different processors. Like JIT compiling of JavaScript on a second core. This means faster execution as the browse now has multi-cores to work with.

Microsoft’s JavaScript rendering engine has also undergone some significant changes. The Chakra JavaScript engine is said to have a rendering benchmark of less than 400ms. That’s faster than Mozilla which sits at about 475ms.

App tabs for the taskbar

Microsoft will reanimate the website-as-app concept, allow users to pick a “pin” from the URL bar of any given site, and drag it to the task bar. Mozilla and Google let you convert regular tabs into App Tabs via the context menu. Whether this will catch on, we are yet to find out. Chrome tried it, but it never quite took the bull by the horns on that one.

Aero snap

Aero snap is a new feature. It is similar to the tab functionality. It will enable the user to drag two tabs to opposite sides of the browser windows, show two pages next to each other in the same window. This is a nice feature, especially if you have a big screen and a lot of screen real estate is wasted with fixed-width web sites. I see this working well as many websites sit at a 1024 resolution but the average screen resolution is way more than that.

Improved plug-in support

One of the biggest drawing cards for Firefox is it’s huge plug-in market. Thousands of users writing useful, and sometimes useless plug-ins. But the choice is yours. Like a particular plug-in app, download and install. There are literally thousands of useful plug-ins out there for Firefox. Something to meet everyone’s needs. Microsoft want to cash in on this market. Not for financial gain but for market share. I see that this might lure the once loyal IE users back, and even poach some Firefox users.

Update:

Microsoft will live stream its IE9 beta conference from its inaugural Beauty of the Web event tonight, and is promising some exciting glimpses into what its browser can do. With the world waiting in anticipation for the next release of IE, Microsoft has already shown that it is hugely enthusiastic about IE9. The conference to unveil the beta will be at 10:30am Pacific Daylight Time – that’s 8:30 pmCAT – and will be webcast at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/internetexplorer/

Conclusion

It sure looks pretty. Set to take the internet by storm. But what do you think? Is it about time that Microsoft have a real competing browser and that people would want to use it because they choose to not because it’s the default browser with their operating system?

Robert Bravery is a professional programmer, Web site Developer and professional blogger for Integral Web Solutions.