Microsoft have released their latest, and apparently last version of Internet Explorer, IE9. SO? Is it any better than the previous incarnations of IE? Is it better than Firefox, Chrome or Opera?
If you’re currently rolling on Windows 7 or Vista you should definitely look at migrating to IE9, even if you run Chrome or Firefox for your internet browsing. There are many number of reasons like on Microsoft’s â€˜beauty of the webâ€™ marketing page, they promote the speed that’s achievable with IE9 and the new user interface which seems much slimmer than normal IE. Perhaps they’ve taken a leaf out of Chrome’s book, realizing that filling up to a third of your screen with toolbars that you’ll almost never use is a waste of screenspace. In fact the IE9 interface uses even fewer pixels than Chrome.
If you like this article, you might be interested in some of our older articles on The Branding Potential of the Internet Browser, HTML5 Applications, The Flash Killer, Tips for Writing CSS and CSS3 Animation.
IE9 takes advantage of hardware acceleration, it uses the power of the computer’s video card to increase overall speed. It’s also reported that although the browser is quick, the publication hasn’t been rushed, an accusation which is levelled at many new Microsoft products. This release appears to be up to industry standard upon release so no more patches, updates and unhappy customers all clamoring to devolve to an earlier version then. Yes Vista, I’m looking at you.
In another steal, I mean homage to Chrome the search and address bars on Internet Explorer 9 have been combined into one omnibox. There are many other tweaks that have been made which should be exciting to anyone who’s interested in augmenting their online experience.
If you currently use Windows XP then unfortunately IE9 won’t work for you. If you run on 32 or 64 bit windows then you can download it right away. If you’d rather wait then it is assumed that it will eventually come out as a windows update but if you’re a big Microsoft fan then you can get it now.
They have a FishIE tank experiment which, via the visual aid of some animated fish shows how fast the IE9 can go. Perhaps I called at the wrong time but it took some time to load but then it really left me feeling ‘Meh.’ I looked at one fish, I looked at a thousand, then I clicked away again.
IE9 will provide you with suggestions, much like Chrome and you can turn it off, but it tells you that turning it off stops sending your keystrokes to Bing, the implication being that when you do exactly the same thing on Chrome they’re stealing your keystrokes and storing up the data. OK, so I’m not a conspiracy theorist and I know that they do harvest this kind of information but it’s really not some sort of social control programme, they just want to know what you like so they can target advertising at you efficiently. If your searches are really so secret and the data so confidential then A; whatever you’re looking for would be restricted and ring alarms anyway and B; if you’re that scared just use a proxy server from an internet cafÃ© but don’t forget your bacofoil hat and rubber soled shoes.
If you take advantage of the Geolocation applications on your laptop while travelling there is a lot of really useful stuff, again the security conscious will be hiding under their desks counting the buttons on their shirts but having geolocated things like maps are really handy, and Microsoft promise not to leak your privacy. PROMISE, so that’s ok.
The pinned sites do seem quite handy though, just pick up the tab of the site that you’re interested in keeping, drag and drop it onto your task bar and bingo bongo! Your favourite sites are just a single click away. Sites can also be pinned InPrivate if needs be. Significantly more impressive than Chrome’s 8 most visited plus your most recently closed? Perhaps not but it does mean that with just a click, click, click, mail, Facebook and Twitter are all up in front of you.
Flash adverts and PopUps are automatically blocked, you can open up for sites that you know and trust though, there’s also a protection list that can be used to block certain types of PopUp and certain types of content, this too can be used to restrict certain kinds of ads. I have to say though that I’ve been on Chrome so long now that I wasn’t any longer aware that this form of intrusive advertising was still in use.
So, while I’m going to stick with Chrome for browsing, or maybe Iron if I’m worried about Chrome stealing my thoughts, I would still recommend downloading IE9. There are still plenty of applications which take advantage from having it around, using the components, it also patches up many of the security holes that were left in the now infamous IE8.