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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
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During my regular usage of this beta of IE 9, its overall performance and reliability proved to be good. As a regular user of Chrome, Firefox and Safari, I didn't notice any major performance issues with IE 9, and it definitely was an improvement over IE 8, especially when launching new pages and tabs. However, in some tests such as Futuremark's online Peacekeeper benchmark, IE 9 was still behind most of the competition.

While IE 9 is following the browser tech curve in some areas, one place where it is right on the cutting edge is in its use of hardware acceleration to improve overall browser performance. This feature, which is also implemented in the betas and alphas of most competing browsers, lets the web browser tap the computer's graphics processor to help with video, images and other graphics intensive applications. This is something that games and graphics applications have been doing for a while now and, while not that impactful right now, will be a major factor in the richer web that will be enabled by newer technologies such as HTML 5.

And when it comes to standards such as HTML 5 (which actually is not yet a full standard) and other current web technologies, the IE 9 beta definitely shows improvement over its predecessors. In the Web Standards Project's Acid3 test, the IE 9 beta scores a very good 95 out of 100, which is right behind the 97 that the Firefox 4 beta scores and the perfect 100s that Chrome and Safari have earned.

Of course, the one area where IE 9 comes up well behind all of its competitors is its lack of broad platform support. IE 9 will only run on Windows 7 and Windows Vista. All Windows XP users are out of luck. Compare this to most competing browsers, which run on Macs, Linux and Windows 7, Vista and XP.

However, if you are a Windows 7 or Vista user and you want to try out the new beta of Internet Explorer 9, go to www.microsoft.com/ie.

FURTHER READING:

Can IE9 Halt Explorer's Decline?

Microsoft Unleashes Windows Internet Explorer 9 Beta

Editor's Choice
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
Pam Baker, Contributing Writer
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
Greg Douglass, Global Lead for Technology Strategy & Advisory, Accenture
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter