Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 9 browser with pared-down features and improved speed and performance

Yesterday saw the official beta launch of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 browser.

Microsoft claimed that the ' improvements to Internet Explorer are as much about what you don't see as what you do see'. Changes include: a new streamlined design with print and zoom accessed by clicking the tools button; pinned sites to allow favourite websites to be accessed from the taskbar; a download manager that keeps a running list of the files you download from the internet and notifies you when a file could be malicious; and the ability to search within the address bar.

The browser uses the same engine as its Security Essentials free anti-virus technology to check for suspicious websites and downloads, while the ability to block pages on a site-by-site basis further protects users.

With many features similar to those included in the Google Chrome browser, many features are not security-focused. However, the previously mentioned scanning ability in the download manager and an add-on performance advisor 'tells you if an add-on is slowing down your browser performance, and then allow you to disable or remove it'.

Microsoft said: “Internet Explorer 9 has a streamlined design, fewer dialog boxes to click through, more intuitive navigation and many new features that speed up your web browsing experience. Features like hardware acceleration, deliver an all-round faster browsing experience. With Internet Explorer 9, websites perform and feel more like the programs you use every day on your PC.”

Writing on the Security Garden blog, Corrine said: “The most important note regarding compatibility is that IE9 is not compatible with Windows XP SP3. The first thing I noticed with the installation is the change in the look and feel.  Where was my beloved favourites bar? If you find some changes difficult to adjust to - like the hidden favourites, command or status bar, it is easy to show one or all, a simple right-click in the space to the right of the new tab button provides the option to add the old stand-by, as well as the option to move the stop and refresh buttons.

“Although I have only had IE9 installed for a couple of hours, I already appreciate the increased web page viewing area of IE9 over previous versions of Internet Explorer.  I particularly like the combined search and address bar (One Bar).  Another feature of IE9 that Windows 7 users will appreciate is the Windows 7 integration, including snap, jump lists and more.”

Reviewing the beta for the Guardian, Kate Bevan claimed that it feels faster, with the browser focused on standards and compliance, which makes sites built in HTML5 a pleasure to use.

Bevan said: “As more websites build content that takes advantage of IE9, the benefits of it will become clearer. For now, this is a good beta: it's stable, clean and fast and integrates well with the operating system. It could mean that downloading a new browser is no longer the first thing you do with a new computer."

Software developer Joe Hewitt said on Twitter that 'IE9 is going to throw more dirt on Flash's grave than Apple could shovel. How long before IE6/7/8 are gone and we can have fun with HTML5?' Another user tweeted: “IE9 UI looks like Metro crashed into Chrome on its way to a Firefox costume party.”

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