Thursday, February 10, 2011
Windows Internet Explorer 9 makes Web sites look and perform as if they were native to Microsoft Windows. Internet Explorer 9 lets you tap into the power of your whole PC so your Web sites shine. Taking full advantage of your PC's hardware through Windows, IE9 lets you enjoy graphically rich and immersive experiences that are as fast and responsive as native applications installed on your PC.
With a new, streamlined user experience, you can focus on the Web sites you love with a clean look that integrates seamlessly with Windows 7. A robust set of built-in security, privacy, and reliability technologies keep you safer and your browsing experience uninterrupted. For Web developers, support for HTML5 and modern standards architected to take advantage of the graphics processing unit (GPU) means that the same markup not only works across the Web, but runs faster and delivers a richer experience through Windows and Internet Explorer 9.
What's new in this version:
- Streamlined design
- Pinned Sites
- Download Manager
- Enhanced tabs
- New Tab page
- Search in the address bar
- Notification Bar
- Add-on Performance Advisor
- Hardware acceleration
Internet Explorer 9 is crammed with new features. One of the interesting concepts implemented by Microsoft is a reversal of the current trend to make the browser the operating system. Internet Explorer comes with some natural-fitting Windows 7 integration. In IE9, you can pin specific sites to your Windows 7 desktop taskbar. Click and hold on a tab, and drag it to the taskbar. The site's favicon will become the pinned site icon.
Pinned sites by default re-color IE9's Aero glass-style interface based on the color schemes in the site's favicon, which is a neat little trick. If coded properly, a site can customize the jump list links. You can currently see what this looks like if you pin CNN.com to your taskbar. I didn't see thumbnail preview media controls in action, but Microsoft says that the feature should be available to sites that want to implement the API. Pinned Web mail sites, for example, will be able to show in-box counts on the Windows 7 taskbar.
IE9 takes Internet Explorer's tab sandboxing and gives it Chrome-style "ripping," so that you can drag a tab to create a new browser window. IE's tabs allow the user to rip them off and immediately Aero Snap them to either side of the browser, useful for looking at two sites simultaneously.
Again, like its competitors, Microsoft attempts to re-brand the location bar thanks to bolstering it with search features. Internet Explorer's "OneBox," as the company is calling it, combines the search box with the location bar. You can navigate to a site, search for sites, or look at browsing history or favorites. You can also change search providers at the bottom, which is a slick merge of the old search bar functionality into the location bar. By default, the OneBox won't remember your keystrokes. If you let it, though, you'll get additional search suggestions.
Notifications in IE9 have taken on an entirely different look. Small and minimalist, they appear at the bottom of the browser and don't stop you from browsing. Tab sandboxing will not only prevent a single tab crash from taking down the whole browser, but IE9 will ask if you want to resurrect the tab, too.
A new "New Tab" page lets you resurrect closed tabs and previous browsing sessions, as well as provide large versions of your most frequently-visited Web sites' favicons for quick access. It feels a bit empty and lacks deep customization, but it's a step in the right direction. It's appreciated that when you mouse over a site's favicon, you're told how in general terms frequently you visit the page. Annoyingly, IE9 lacks a radio button in the Tools menu to make about:Tabs, the new tab page address, your default home page. You can type it in manually, which is certainly easy but not effortless and makes the page just a bit harder to reach.
The new Download Manager incorporates reputation-based security, to accelerate the pace at which you can install a new download if not speeding up the download itself. This means that well-known files, such as installers from trusted vendors, will cause fewer warnings if any to pop up.