Review: IE9 May Be Best Version Yet - InformationWeek

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9/16/2010
04:36 PM
Jim Rapoza
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Review: IE9 May Be Best Version Yet

Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9, now in public beta, improves on previous versions of the browser, but most of the new features simply catch up to Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 Beta Revealed
Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 Beta Revealed
(click image for larger view and for full photo gallery)
One of the nicer new interface features is only available to Windows 7 users. With Pinned Sites, I could click on the site icon within the address bar and drag it to my Windows 7 taskbar. This made it possible to quickly launch that site or web application from the taskbar and also let me choose to add the web application to my Startup folder so it would launch when Windows launched. Also, when a pinned site is launched, the browser window works almost like a separate application, down to its own unique icons and look based on the web site's properties. I could see this getting a lot of use by developers, especially in conjunction with some of the offline capabilities of HTML 5.

The IE 9 beta now also makes it possible to conduct a search directly from the browser's address bar. This feature, which has been in all versions of Google Chrome, is a good addition for the many of us whose first action in a web browser is to conduct a search.

One feature that IE 9 is currently implementing better than its competitors is the notifications bar. The notifications bar now pops up in a bottom screen window that manages to be both informative and unobtrusive, providing information on things such as downloads, passwords and add-ons.

However, while this notification was well implemented, the IE 9 beta provides almost no information on status of page loading. Whenever I ran across a site that was having a problem loading, there was no feedback from IE.

IE 9 also addresses one of the biggest weaknesses that Internet Explorer has had for a long time, namely the presence of a good download manager. Now, users of IE can easily view content downloaded through the browser and can also pause downloads in progress and restart failed downloads.

Another nice feature was the Add-on Performance Advisor. When I first launched IE 9, it looked at the plug-ins and add-ons I had (such as the Adobe Reader add-on) and made suggestions on their impact on browser performance and gave me the option to disable these add-ons in order to improve performance.

Speaking of performance, in the current browser wars, every browser maker likes to tout the supposed speed enhancements and advantages of their newest browser (despite the fact that for most users the difference in speed between the fastest and the slowest of the modern browsers is usually measured in times less than a second). And IE 9 is no exception.

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