The first glimpse of IE 9 beta

image - The first glimpse of IE 9 beta

After the long period of wait with 4 releases of Platform Preview in between, Microsoft finally decided to open the door and unlock the beauty of the web by its first beta of IE 9. Unlike the last 2 releases on 7 and 8, this time, it looks promising. Even after 10 minutes of use, I am already impressed, in many aspects. It feels like Microsoft finally has caught up and back in the browser game.

The look

It’s streamlined, simplified in a way that users can truly enjoy the web surfing experience with more vertical space reserved. Comparing to the previous versions, it’s got address bar and tabs unified, even the search is integrated within the address bar together. It’s also got toolbars stripped down, with favorites bar and status bar not enabled by default. So users have the maximized space for web surf. It seems that IE 9 offers the most web surfing real estate among all the browsers.

image1 - The first glimpse of IE 9 beta

However, the unified tab and address bar doesn’t help too much for those who often open many tabs at the same time. For those folks, me included, a separated tab and address bar might be more useful.

The speed

One of the most significant improvement in IE 9 is the performance. For all the benchmark comparison you can find on the internet, IE 9 is placed pretty much all at the top, or near to the top. The only area that IE 9 is slower than the latest Chrome and Opera is the JavaScript engine, which is still a few millisecond behind. But still, IE 9 beats both browsers in overall performance because of its very first and own full hardware acceleration.

image2 - The first glimpse of IE 9 beta

Even on my 3-year-old laptop, the 50 fishes are still able to swimming in the ocean in 46 FPS speed, which is very smooth. You can test more things out over at IE9 Test Drive.

The tabs

Finally, you can tear off the tabs in this version of IE, which makes viewing two tabbed web pages side-by-side nicely by simply just snapping them to both sides of your screen. The New Tab Page is also redesigned and displays the sites you visit most often with color codes.

image3 - The first glimpse of IE 9 beta

However, there is still one thing that is missing in tab. I still can’t close the tabs that are not active because there is no cross mark attached on the tabs that I can easily click. I’d like to see it’s available when the final version releases.

Also, the tab dragging isn’t as smooth as it does in Chrome or Firefox. Dragging a whole size of page surely is more difficult than dragging just a preview of the page.

The standard compliance

It’s the most stand compliance browser in IE history. Not only does it support industry web standards, but it also supports the new standard of CSS3 and HTML5. Even though it doesn’t render my site properly, I believe the effort that goes to make the browser more standard friendly is very noticeable.

The new features

There are many new features introduced in IE 9. And among these new nice features, the most interesting, maybe useful one is the pin-2-taskbar. Yes, with IE 9 in Windows 7, you can pin a webpage to the taskbar, simply by dragging the website icon in the address bar into the taskbar. And you can utilize the Jump list to quick access some of the features embedded in the pinned web page.

image4 - The first glimpse of IE 9 beta

Lately, I found myself spending much more time on Chrome than IE and Firefox but now I will be switching my focus over to IE 9 a lot more. I will be exploring more features and will be covering them a lot in Windows7hacker in the past a couple of weeks.

Overall

I believe IE 9 will be the most significant upgrade since IE 6. While it still dominates in the corporate environment, the new release will be winning back a lot of consumers who have gone part ways with either Firefox or Chrome as well. It’s still in the early stage of beta testing so will have no doubts that the final release will be much better.

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