Microsoft unveils IE9 beta

Microsoft has released the beta for its next generation browser, Internet Explorer 9.

Aside from the already announced support for HTML5 and hardware acceleration, Microsoft unveiled a clean new user interface, clever Windows 7 interface, and new security tools.

The user interface has been stripped down to leave sites front and central. “From our point of view, the browser is the stage,” said head of IE Dean Hachamovitch at the launch event in San Francisco. “Sites on the web are the stars of the show.”

From our point of view, the browser is the stage. Sites on the web are the stars of the show

The browser has been integrated with Windows 7 to take advantage of the tools in the operating system.

Hachamovitch noted that 33% of Windows users have pinned something to the taskbar, but only 4% have added anything to the favourites list, and claimed that 40% have used Aero Snap to view windows side by side, but only 9% have had more than eight tabs open at once. “There are huge gaps in usage patterns,” he said.

With that in mind, IE9 users will be able to pin sites directly to the taskbar in Windows 7, so pages can be accessed without opening the browser first.

IE9 also allows websites to create jumplists, so users can go directly to tasks via the site – such as sending an email, accepting a friend invite, or going directly to a news story – without working their way through the site’s interface first. Such sites will also pull in notifications, alerting users to messages directly through the OS.

IE9 Twitter pinned

Another new tool is the One Box, which keeps track of sites visited to make site suggestions as users type, but doesn’t automatically send that data to a search engine, Microsoft noted, taking a dig at rival Google. “The address bar is respectful of privacy,” he said.

As previously announced, IE9 supports hardware acceleration. Its Chakra engine takes advantage of multicore CPUs, while Microsoft is claiming it’s the first to use full HTML 5 hardware acceleration, using the GPU for graphics processing – a goal Chrome and Firefox are both working on.

Microsoft also highlighted HTML5 support, showing off a host of gorgeous websites created by partners. The company claims to have sorted out the back button, so users navigating within a site’s own inbuilt tabs will also be able to use the browser controls without confusing matters – a revelation that won applause from developers in the crowd.


Microsoft said the browser is not just cleaner and faster, but safer. A new download manager tool, SmartScreen filter, looks for malware in files, showing a warning only when necessary rather than popping-up warning windows for all downloads. Files known to be safe will simply be downloaded, saving users from “fatigue” and blindly approving everything.

Hachamovitch said the “application reputation” was a nice way to describe “stranger danger for downloads.” When the system does ask users if they’re sure about a file, “it is very clear and uses human language to explain the risks,” he said.

IE9 also brings an Add-On Performance Adviser, to let users know when add-ons are slowing down the browser. “It makes it very clear what’s going on, and what the user can do,” Hachamovitch said, adding that 75% of all IE crashes are caused by add-ons.

The new version includes tab isolation as well as crash and hang recovery.

The IE9 beta can be downloaded here.

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

Todays Highlights
How to See Google Search History
how to download photos from google photos