public beta of Windows Internet Explorer 9, latest iteration of its Web browser and proof that the company can still compete.
Dean Hachamovitch, corporate VP at Microsoft, described IE9 as "A browser that uses the whole PC and puts sites at the center of the experience." What he means by that is that IE9 looks to Windows for both graphics processing power and user interface improvements, often in ways that attempt to shift the focus of computing away from the browser and back to the PC operating system.
IE9's Pinned Sites feature, for example, is sure to create headaches at Google. Pinned Sites are Web site bookmarks that have been dragged into the Windows task bar. They can include Jump Lists, menus that allows direct navigation to specific areas of a Web site. Doing such navigation from the task bar and Jump Lists rather than through the browser means less searching. No wonder Google plans to introduce an operating system of its own, Chrome OS, shortly.
The tone of the launch event at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center was decidedly modern. The musical prelude to the keynote featured an avant-garde band that included a harp of sorts with strings that stretched perhaps fifty feet upward and across the concourse atrium. The band would've seemed at home in a variety of near-future science fiction films and served to convey Microsoft's message that IE9 is something new.
Close watchers of the browser wars may recall that "modern browser" has been a term invoked by other browser makers that pointedly excluded IE6 and IE7.
Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, characterized the launch as part of Microsoft's attempt to not be seen as a dinosaur. He pointed to the upcoming release of Microsoft's Xbox 360 Kinect as another proof-of-life launch for the company.