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Microsoft Unleashes Windows Internet Explorer 9 Beta

The software giant's next Web browser rises to the challenge posed by Google Chrome 6, Firefox 4, and Safari 5.
Internet Explorer Beta 9
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Internet Explorer Beta 9
IE9's most significant feature is its support for hardware-accelerated HTML5. It makes rich media Web sites really fast and creates a whole new set of possibilities for Web designers. IE9 also includes a new JavaScript engine called Chakra that utilizes multicore CPUs for further speed improvements. Without speed, other browser features don't really matter.

IE9 includes strong support for HTML5. Browser inconsistencies remain but finally Microsoft isn't a laggard when it comes to Web standards.

The overall look-and-feel of IE9 is much more elegant and streamlined than its predecessors. Users of Chrome or Firefox are likely to recognize changes like the One Box, which combines the search dialog box with the address bar.

The Add-on performance advisor will show users when an add-on is slowing down the browser. According to Hachamovitch, add-ons cause 75% of all crashes in Internet Explorer.

Jeff Henshaw, principle group manager for Bing, was on hand, to showcase how IE9's hardware acceleration could make the Bing experience better, specially better than what Google had to offer, though Microsoft's archrival wasn't mentioned by name. "Sometimes ten blue links, no matter how fast they're rendered, are not enough to solve the complex tasks and decisions you're trying to make," he said.

He showed off an upcoming revision of Bing, available in preview form in about a month, that will include live video on its home page and line counts for search results that vary based on their position on the search results page.

Among the many partners Microsoft assembled for the event, there was considerable interest in IE9's improved speed and its Windows integration.

Jason Hoch, VP of product development at Discovery Digital Media, expressed enthusiasm for IE9's capabilities, particularly the task bar integration. As to measuring IE9's impact, Discovery had only just started supporting Pinned Sites and Jump Lists and couldn't offer metrics, he said.

Chris Keating, senior product manager at IMDB.com, said that IE9 is significant because it supports HTML5, which allows for rich media capabilities without a plug-in. He also cited the value of hardware acceleration. "I could open [IMDB.com] in Chrome, but you'd see speed differences around the hardware acceleration piece," he said.

Internet Explorer 9 is available in 33 languages from beautyoftheweb.com.