After lot of fanfare, Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) was finally released. It is touted as the best browser by Microsoft and comes with support for the latest technology in town. Well, that may sound a bit exaggerating, but IE9 did indeed come with several impressive features. In case you are wondering whether you should upgrade or not, here’s a breakdown of its features and all the things that you need to know about IE9.
1. Hardware acceleration
The most noticeable difference in IE9 is its speed. Not only does it seem faster than previous version of IE, it is also faster than other browsers like Chrome and Firefox. The main reason for this is due to hardware acceleration. By tapping into the power of your graphics card, it is able to render pages more quickly. The latest version of Chrome and Firefox also comes with hardware acceleration, but IE9 seems to has a better implementation. In short, IE9 is fast.
2. CSS3 and HTML5 support
Web developers hate Internet Explorer, because they never comply to web standard. Mention IE6 and you will instantly hear curses and swears from developers. That is the past. IE9 is now fully standard compliance and it support CSS3 and HTML5 fully. No, it does not support the new WebM video format yet, but you can install the addon from Google website.
3. One bar to rule them all
There is no more search bar in IE 9. All you get now is the One bar (aka the address bar, or URL bar) where you perform searches (in Bing) or type in URL.
4. Smart screen filter and tracking protection
Internet Explorer has often been critized as being insecure and is always the security loophole for the main OS. In IE9, there is an improvement in the security aspect – some is built on top of IE8 technology and other is newly added. The smart screen filter can now detect malware and phising sites and the tracking protection can protect you from being tracked on certain sites.
5. New interface – Tinier tabs
The first thing that you will notice on IE9 is its new interface. The search bar is now combined with the address bar and the tab bar is now located beside the address bar. While it may look clean and streamlined, the moment you got more than 10 tabs open, the tabs will shrink and you will have difficulty navigating around the tabs.
6. Drag tab to open in new window
Nothing new for Google Chrome user. You can now drag a tab out of the tab bar and have it open in a new window. Similarly, to combine two IE9 window, just drag the tabs from one to another.
7. Pin sites to the taskbar
IE9 is developed by Microsoft, so there is no doubt that it integrates best with Windows 7. The best example is the pinning of sites to the taskbar. Simply drag the tab to the taskbar and it will instantly pin itself to the taskbar. Accessing your favourite site from the taskbar is definitely faster than accessing it from the bookmark. In addition, you can also create jumplist item for your site.
8. New download manager
The new download manager include a malware/virus scanner and can scan the files before the downloading begin.
9. IE9 as a window update, not separate install
Unlike IE8 where you can download and install as an application, IE9 exists as a Windows Update. Like any other Windows update, you will need to restart your computer after the installation.
10. No support for XP
Still using Windows XP? You can have IE 8 instead. IE 9 is supported to run in Windows 7 or Vista only. Perhaps it is time for XP to die too?
How to install
Microsoft will be issuing a Windows Update on the 21st of March 2011 and IE9 will be included in that update. In another word, whether you like it or not, IE9 will be installed in your computer, unless you don’t intend to update your Windows forever. If you are patient enough, you can wait for the Windows update and let it upgrade itself automatically. Your IE8 will be replaced with IE 9.
For those who want it now, you can download the installer file here.
Is IE9 better than Chrome or Firefox?
If you have been using IE7 and 8, you will definitely appreciate the changes in IE 9. However, if you are already using Chrome or Firefox and you love them, it will be very difficult for Microsoft to entice you over. The functionality are almost similar, but Chrome and Firefox have the added advantage of a huge library of addons and extensions. What’s more, IE 9 only works in Windows whereas the other browsers work in (almost) all platforms.
Nevertheless, effort must be commended to Microsoft for coming up with such a great browser. It is indeed their best browser ever.
What do you think? Will you switch to IE 9?