A Sneak Peek at Microsoft IE9

By Cindy Waxer September 15, 2010

Microsoft is encouraging consumers to test drive the beta version of Internet Explorer 9, the latest incarnation of its popular browser software. Although not a full Web browser, the test version, which Microsoft refers to as ‘the Internet Explorer Platform Preview,’ is meant to give Web developers an early look at the Web platform technology coming in the next release of Internet Explorer. To date, Microsoft has provided several technical previews of the underlying engine without talking in detail about how the browser would look.

Forget about daily browsing. According to Microsoft, the point of providing the public access to the platform preview is to let Web developers track the software’s progress and start planning if and how they want to support new HTML5 capabilities in the future.

One feature that has consumers talking is IE9’s Google Chrome-like interface. “IE9 has a clean new design,” Dean Hachamovitch, corporate vice president for Internet Explorer, said at a recent Microsoft launch event. “It puts the focus on the site, not the browser.”

But Microsoft is hoping that the similarities with Google will end there. For example, IE9 uses the PC’s graphics processing unit to render graphics, including images, animations, movie clips and other visuals, and make them appear or play faster by offloading some of the work from the CPU to the GPU.

In addition, in a review, ZDNet blogger Ed Bott reports that “the most interesting innovation in IE9, and the one that has made the greatest impact on me as I’ve tested IE9 over the past two weeks, is a new feature called pinned shortcuts, which allows you to treat a favorite website as if it were an application.” Users can pin individual websites to the taskbar at the bottom of the screen, as well as tailor a menu of options for each program.

Cool quotient aside, it’s important to remember that Microsoft IE9 is still in beta, and that kinks such as compatibility issues have yet to be ironed out. In the meantime though, Microsoft seems bent on giving Google a run for its browser dollars.

Edited by Erin Harrison

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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