IE9 ready to go public

Microsoft will tomorrow (Wednesday 15) release the first public beta version of its Internet Explorer 9 browser.

The release of the new browser is Microsoft’s latest release aimed at maintaining its dominance of the browser market. Over the past couple of years Internet Explorer has faced increasingly tough competition from the likes of Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome browser. Chrome in particular has been snapping up market share as it evolves at breakneck speed.

With an eye on the competition, IE9 has a number of features designed to ensure it stays ahead of (or at least in line with) its opponents. Chief among these is stricter adherence to web standards.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6 was notorious for its non-standard rendering of HTML and with versions 7 and 8 of the browser, Microsoft gradually evolved IE to be more standards compliant.

Performance wise IE9 is speedier than its predecessors. Its new Javascript rendering engine, called “Chakra”, is reportedly multiple times faster than previous releases. Although Javascript rending speeds are measured in fractions of a second, so not visible with the naked eye, as web applications become increasingly complex, faster Javascript performance is key.

Standards wise IE9 supports HTML 5, CSS3 and SVG1.1. These are the still-evolving web standards that will underpin the development of the web over the next few years. IE9’s ACID test results (which measures standards compliance) are also very high. 

Aside from faster Javascript performance IE9 also benefits from a speed boost thanks to integrated hardware acceleration. Firefox4, Safari and Chrome already have their own version of hardware acceleration in their releases, so this bring IE9 on par with those.

Hardware acceleration allows the browser to use the superior processing power of the graphics processing unit on the PC to render images and video while the browser renders text content. This handing-off of intense graphics to the processor gives it a significant power boost.

IE9 is also designed to be a lot cleaner than previous versions of the browser. This doesn’t mean that there will be radical changes to the interface but there will be less extraneous clutter and a more focused browser. The new browser will also be more integrated into the Windows 7 desktop and will sport a similar look and feel. Features such as being able to pin browser elements to the taskbar will add to the feeling of integration.

Internet Explorer 9 won’t be available for Windows XP, but only for Windows 7.

Microsoft is expected to release the public beta version of IE9 on Wednesday 15 September. SA users can expect the release towards the end of the day.

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IE9 ready to go public