Ep 38 of 2010
September 20, 2010
Last Thursday, Microsoft launched a beta version of its latest incarnation of web browser Internet Explorer 9. Amongst all the pomp and pageantry reserved for such an occasion, what was presented at the Melbourne launch of the software by Microsoft developer evangelist Michael Kordahi, was quite impressive.
Our briefing was just 5 hours after the product was revealed in San Francisco, over breakfast at a Melbourne Hotel. Aside from the already announced support for HTML5 and hardware acceleration, Microsoft unveiled a clean new user interface, clever Windows 7 interface, and new security tools.
The user interface was stripped down to leave sites front and central in the browser. This new sparse GUI maximizes space for the website. Sure you can turn on the old features you may be used to, but this new browser is quite easy to get the hang of despite only a few days of use.
The browser was intergrated with Windows 7, to take advantage of the tools in the operating system. One new feature is jump menus, which is a list of web developer chosen shortcuts you can pin to the task bar in Windows 7. Simply drag the site icon from the address bar and pin it to the task bar, then with a simple right click on the icon on the task bar, you can navigate to pages without even opening the browser. You can find an example of this in action with the Tech Talk Radio website, and you can even launch the live stream to listen to the show without even opening the browser. Users can go directly to tasks via the site - such as sending an email, accepting a friend invite, or going directly to a news story - without working their way through the site's interface first.
IE9 also supports hardware acceleration, with its Chakra engine leveraging multicore CPUs. Microsoft claimed to be the first to use full HTML 5 hardware acceleration, using the GPU for graphics processing - a goal Chrome and Firefox were both working on, and something which is very impressive to see.
The company also claimed to have sorted out the 'back' button, so users navigating within a site's own inbuilt tabs would also be able to use the browser controls without confusing matters.
If you're keen to try the new browser, in the few days I've been playing with it, it seems quite stable, although with any beta, you'll be sure to find a few bugs and maybe even the odd crash. Microsoft has built a comprehensive test site where you can compare browsers side by side on your own PC. Visit http://ie.microsoft.com/testdrive/ where you can download the beta and the run it through it's paces.
IE 9 is not for everyone. If you're running Windows XP, the recommendation is to stick with IE8 as this version of the browser is paired with Windows 7. And if you're a Mac user, then stick to Safari. Microsoft are looking after their own customers with IE9 with the aim of the new browser being to embellish the online world of Windows 7 users only.
This week on Tech Talk Radio
- Dr Ron and I report on the IE9 briefing in Melbourne last Thursday
- Adam Turner has a hands on with Microsoft's new mobile offering Phone 7
- Apple Finally Lets A Google Voice Application Into The App Store (Again) and
- NBN Co reveals IT rollout progress