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Internet Explorer 9 Beta pre-build  (Source: Microsoft Russia)
Microsoft Russia really let the cat out of the bag this time

With its browser market share at a decade-low, Microsoft has a tall task awaiting it with the release of Internet Explorer 9.  The good news is that Microsoft appears to be rising to the occasion.  It's currently four developer previews in, and our early testing indicates that it's in a dead heat speedwise with Mozilla's Firefox 4 betas (thanks to its new Javascript engine "Chakra").

In a month where Apple looks to release new iPods and potentially other products, Microsoft's Internet Explorer event on September 15 will likely go largely overlooked.  But that event should prove a critical step for the company, as it is anticipated to formerly unveil the first beta of IE 9.

What no one knew -- until now – was what that beta would look like.  Mary-Jo Foley of 
ZDNet was cleverly poking around on Microsoft's foreign webpages and came across screenshots of what may be the new IE 9 beta, accidentally leaked by Microsoft Russia.

If this is indeed the look of the beta, Microsoft is going for an even more aggressively minimalist look than Mozilla's Firefox 4.  The URL bar, forward/backward buttons, and tabs have all been merged into a single row (this occupies two rows in Firefox 4) and multiple page elements have "been consolidated into one" (according to the translated Russian text corresponding to the image).

"Favorites", "Suggested Sites", and "Get More Add-ons" – features found in IE 8 -- have all been presumably moved to subtler locations.  All this reorganization is geared at providing "more room for the (Web) site itself", according to Microsoft.

Like Opera, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari, Microsoft appears to finally be preparing a "tear-off tabs" feature.  For those who haven't experienced this feature, it allows the user to drag a tab out of the window to create a separate browser window.  While Microsoft may be late to this game, it intends to have perhaps the most stylish implementation yet, integrating the tear-off features with Windows 7's popular Aero Snap functionality to allow you to snap tabs to portions of the screen.

Microsoft Russia indicates the transition will look seamless, thanks to the onboard Direct2D GPU rendering.  The page roughly translates to, "Simply drag the page in different screen and will appear next to each other.  Reproduction of content sites and video are not violated."

Another new feature is the ability to turn "recognized," or "protected," sites into pinned taskbar icons.  This gives one-click access to websites not available currently in Windows 7 from Microsoft's browser rivals.

Between these new features, the slick new look, the speed increase, and the new support for advance web standards (HTML5, CSS3, and SVG2), IE 9 could well stop Microsoft's slide in the browser market and get it back on track.  The browser is expected to air in 2011 for Windows Vista and Windows 7.  The bad news?  Microsoft has said it will not support Windows XP, an OS still used by approximately 60 percent of the market.

When asked for comment on the screenshots and features leak, a Microsoft spokesperson coyly remarked, "Microsoft is encouraged by the early enthusiasm around Internet Explorer 9; we have nothing further to share about Internet Explorer 9 at this time."

The image has since been pulled and replaced with a less glamorous screenshot of what appears to be Internet Explorer 8 parked on a IE 9 teaser webpage.

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IE9 Speed
By B3an on 8/26/2010 9:17:53 AM , Rating: 5
and our early testing indicates that it's in a dead heat speedwise with Mozilla's Firefox 4 betas

Those benchmarks are old, speed has improved with both browsers since. But IE9 is now ahead in preview 4. Infact about the only browsers faster are Opera 10.6 and Chrome, by a very small amount. But the speed increases are happening a lot faster with IE9 so by the time it's released it may well take the number 1 or 2 spot.

The 3D/Direct2D acceleration is also smoother and faster than Firefox 4's (which isn't turned on by default either).
It's standards and HTML5 support has also increased a lot since then, and it now gets around 95/100 in the Acid3 test.

Think i could actually be going back to IE for the first time in about 8 years.

RE: IE9 Speed
By inighthawki on 8/26/2010 9:49:43 AM , Rating: 5
Agreed, IE9 is looking better and better every time I hear about it. Microsoft also has a track record of doing quite a few optimizations later in the game, so with how early of a beta build this still is, I wouldn't doubt if it got a significant speed increase closer to the final build, which might pull it into that number 1/2 spot you you say.

The only thing that still keeps me from switching (to any browser, for that matter) is addons. Firefox is undoubtedly the best when it comes to addons (at least the sheer number of them), and I simply cannot live without mouse gestures and adblock (Flashblock/noscript I could probably live without). We'll see what IE9 does with this. Unlike IE7/8, I think 9 is really earning a good rep as a browser, and if enough devs switch we might see a large spike in addons like that

RE: IE9 Speed
By B3an on 8/26/2010 11:24:56 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah the addons might be the only thing that stop me completely switching to IE9. I recently went from FF to Chrome 6.x lately though because FF is looking pretty dated and it's slow (FF4 is an improvement though). Chrome now supports proper addons too, and all the best addons (like the ones you mention) are now on Chrome, so browsing is just like FF 3.6, but faster.

RE: IE9 Speed
By inighthawki on 8/26/2010 12:54:07 PM , Rating: 3
The problem I had with Chrome (rather, Iron) when I tried it was the best mouse gestures addons had major bugs with the rocker gestures and refused to work properly. This hasn't been an issue with firefox for me. Granted it's been probably a half-year since I've tried chrome, though.

RE: IE9 Speed
By neihrick1 on 8/26/2010 1:44:46 PM , Rating: 2
FF 4 beta 4 easily beats chrome in speed, on my system anyhow, memory usage is still high though, maybe because of my addons, although i've trimmed that down to only 11

RE: IE9 Speed
By p05esto on 8/26/2010 3:03:55 PM , Rating: 3
I never left IE. The program always launched the fastest thanks to being integrated into the OS, it was there by default, matched Windows the best and frankly web sites looked the best in IE because web developers always paid attention to IE since it was the majority (can't say that about lesser browsers). The lesser browsers are just OK, I would never personally use them unless there was a good reason for it. Nothing against FF and the rest, I just don't see the point, it's just a web browser....the web SITES are what matter.

RE: IE9 Speed
By inighthawki on 8/26/2010 3:39:14 PM , Rating: 2
I think the point wasn't so much about how the site was rendered, but rather the features that were available in the browsers. I switched to FF back when IE6 was the newest version. Comparatively, Firefox had huge advantages. Custom themes, addons, tabs, etc. It was an obvious choice. These days, however, I would agree, the difference between many browsers now is mostly small things. Firefox still leads in addons, chrome may have the edge in speed, and Opera has it strange little features.

One critical thing, though, is that even as of IE8, it is still the worst in js and rendering speed hands down. So this is another major factor that people take into consideration. It is a big deal for some people, especially those who may work with web technologies and it comes down to the old "time is money" saying. This will all change with IE9 though, should be very interesting.

RE: IE9 Speed
By Silver2k7 on 8/29/2010 3:52:44 AM , Rating: 2
Im the same, ive got IE8 wich im using 90% of the time, got the latest MozillaFirefox installed.. but I don't see what the fuzz is all about.

RE: IE9 Speed
By tank171 on 8/29/2010 7:08:12 PM , Rating: 2
I like chrome because of its simple interface. I hate toolbars, search bars, favorite bars, and any kind of bar on the bottom of the screen. I like how chrome has the bare minimum interface to provide all the features i need. It does have a bookmark bar, but I keep it minimized and only bring it up when needed.

On top of the interface, I like how light feeling chrome is. It loads fast and the tabs separate into their own windows fast. Everything about it feels right to use. IE8, on the other hand, just feels like a clunker. I know its only marginally slower if even that for most things, but it just looks dated feels slow.

I know IE is more compatible. Ive had to use it several times when chrome just wouldn't work right. I feel thats a small price to pay for the benefits. And I have to wonder, would IE9 be what it is if chrome, opera, and fire fox weren't so superior in almost every way to IE8? I really doubt it.

RE: IE9 Speed
By Reclaimer77 on 8/26/10, Rating: -1
RE: IE9 Speed
By TheBaker on 8/28/2010 1:42:13 AM , Rating: 2
Who are all these people noticing speed problems with browsers? I really don't understand.

This was the same question I asked myself. Is there really that big of a difference between 1 second and 2 seconds? Yeah, it may be twice as fast, but it's still just one second. I mean, browsers aren't exactly compressing HD video. They're loading content, that's it. For the most part, any content that might actually have a load time is limited by your connection, not the browser's speed.

Favorites Bar
By Spivonious on 8/26/2010 9:27:50 AM , Rating: 2
Where's the Favorites Bar? That's my favorite (no pun intended) feature of IE8.

RE: Favorites Bar
By Gio6518 on 8/26/2010 9:50:14 AM , Rating: 2
Where's the Favorites Bar? That's my favorite (no pun intended) feature of IE8.


i also need my favorites bar, hoping you can right click, put a check and add it.......

RE: Favorites Bar
By B3an on 8/26/10, Rating: 0
RE: Favorites Bar
By Akrovah on 8/26/2010 12:56:17 PM , Rating: 4
Thats all a matter of opinion.

I'm with the previous two posters, I love the favorites bar.

RE: Favorites Bar
By Helbore on 8/26/2010 1:52:05 PM , Rating: 3
Well that all depends on your monitor size and resolution, doesn't it. I've got a 30" screen running at 2560x1600, so I could hardly claim the favourites bar is taking up too much space on the screen. It gives me single-click access to my most-used websites and obstructs nothing.

The great thing (usually) about Microsoft's product UIs is that they are non-restrictive. Don't want the favourites bar? Turn it off. Want to change it's location? Unlock it and move it somewhere else. I'd rather have the option than have a developer insist I don't need something.

RE: Favorites Bar
By FredEx on 8/26/2010 4:10:24 PM , Rating: 3
Also having a larger screen that rotates works well for web cruising. I run my 24" monitors at 1920 x 1200. Their stands they come with are not made to rotate, but they are now mounted on stands that do. For the web I could go vertical, but usually I don't need to. I used to rotate a single 22" for most of the web and that worked well. Plenty a room for the toolbars.

RE: Favorites Bar
By p05esto on 8/26/2010 3:05:43 PM , Rating: 2
Me too, favorites are critical...obviously! I also need the main menu as well (file, edit, etc).

Tab area tiny
By Flassari on 8/26/2010 7:27:47 AM , Rating: 4
Looks like it will be able to support two or three open tabs before the tab area becomes cluttered, by the looks of that screenshot :/

RE: Tab area tiny
By banvetor on 8/26/2010 7:39:45 AM , Rating: 3
I'm betting that they will create a new "row" in case the user has 3-4 or more tabs open...

Which, by the way, is always the case for me

RE: Tab area tiny
By BruceLeet on 8/26/2010 9:44:35 AM , Rating: 2
Have you seen the Tab Candy demo for Firefox 4? Looks useful to me.

RE: Tab area tiny
By inighthawki on 8/26/2010 3:42:19 PM , Rating: 2
I find it hard to believe MS would overlook such an obvious issue. We should wait till the beta to start judging how the tabs may work. It may extend to rows, it may condense to icons like another user said (match the style of win7 superbar?) or perhaps some investigation showed that the majority of people only ever have 3-4 tabs open at any one time. Who knows, we will find out soon enough. The IE9 beta is due sept, if I remember correctly.

Mock up?
By probedb on 8/26/2010 9:49:18 AM , Rating: 4
Is that real or a mock up?

If you look closely the open tab seems to be on top of the bottom of the back button. I know it's beta but that wouldn't happen would it?

Maybe I'm just being cynical ;)

RE: Mock up?
By Gondorff on 8/26/2010 10:10:00 AM , Rating: 2
Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding!!!!

We have a winner!

Of course this is a mock up; the fact that the article does not explicitly explore this near-certainty is less than admirable.

The whole point of something like this is just to get ideas thrown around as part of the design process; I will eat my hat if this turns out to be a final picture. To understand some of the evidence from the picture as to why this is a mock up, see the better ars technica coverage of this story...

Speed tests are for tools.
By PAPutzback on 8/26/2010 10:25:40 AM , Rating: 4
What are we talking here, milliseconds. If you want a fast browser get an SSD.

Says volumes--
By nah on 8/26/2010 10:06:46 AM , Rating: 2
Microsoft has said it will not support Windows XP, an OS still used by approximately 60 percent of the market.

RE: Says volumes--
By ClownPuncher on 8/26/2010 3:06:02 PM , Rating: 1
It says "Wake up and smell 2010". Microsoft said many months ago they are dropping support for XP. If you don't want to upgrade, too bad granny.

By phxfreddy on 8/26/2010 11:25:56 AM , Rating: 3
.........used the phrase "looks to"

I would rival Bill Gates in wealth.

By itsapinhulk on 8/26/2010 8:17:35 AM , Rating: 2
I think the best way would be to display only the icon for the inactive tabs and the whole thing for the active one. Combine that with Quick Tab view and the whole thing should be manageable.

By akugami on 8/26/2010 12:17:21 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know about you guys but none of this minimalistic look will matter. The average Joe Computer user will still click on "yes" when any modal window pops up. I've seen many people with three or even four add-on toolbars, which takes up half the screen almost.

By marvdmartian on 8/26/2010 12:21:21 PM , Rating: 2
Simplistic, maybe. Dramatic? No.....

By coliveloyyd on 8/30/2010 4:46:00 AM , Rating: 2
If you've over-clocked it, its gonna heat up quicker.

By MindParadox on 8/26/2010 8:04:24 AM , Rating: 1
s it is anticipated to formerly unveil the first beta of IE 9

Cmon, "formerly"? yeesh, you mean "Formally" trust me, unless its going to "before unveil the first beta" :P(<<< literal translation of "formerly unveil the first beta"

and i thought i was bad with no apostrophes :)

Apostrophes cause Catastrophes!

By damianrobertjones on 8/26/10, Rating: 0
No Bing option
By rickon66 on 8/26/10, Rating: 0
By StevoLincolnite on 8/26/10, Rating: -1
RE: .
By wushuktl on 8/26/2010 8:23:16 AM , Rating: 4
Wow your monitor is so big, I am so impressed. It says that the image was never meant to be displayed to the public so i think it's safe to say that they were not worrying about 'showing the look' of it nor did they think/care about how big your monitor is

RE: .
By StevoLincolnite on 8/26/10, Rating: -1
RE: .
By Drag0nFire on 8/26/2010 1:16:11 PM , Rating: 1
Wow your monitor is so big, I am so impressed.

I think he's trying to compensate for something else... =D

RE: .
By JasonMick on 8/26/2010 8:23:33 AM , Rating: 3

Hmm, Is there a larger version of that image? If your going to show the "Look" of something, a larger image that is easy to see on my 2560x1600 resolution monitor would be a good start.

Sounds like a nice monitor. :)

The image is at the full resolution that ZDNet posted it at. Remember, though, to view an image in detail, just click it , it will open @ full size. In the article its automatically scaled to a set width due to our style sheet.

The full size image isn't a /whole/ lot bigger I admit, but you should be able to see things a *bit* better.

RE: .
By Spivonious on 8/26/2010 9:25:56 AM , Rating: 2
Either your monitor is huge (about 31" by my calculations), or you should be running at a higher dpi. Trust me. I have my 17" CRT set to 1600x1200 and 130dpi. Everything is so clear, and I can actually see a big difference between fonts that I used to think were almost the same.

RE: .
By StevoLincolnite on 8/26/10, Rating: 0
RE: .
By Spivonious on 8/26/2010 11:23:23 AM , Rating: 2
Okay, then you're pretty much where you should be. Standard DPI is 96, your screen would technically be about 100.

Carry on. :)

RE: .
By theapparition on 8/26/2010 12:21:29 PM , Rating: 1
17" CRT

Are you serious. Last time I used a 17" CRT was in 1995.

RE: .
By Spivonious on 8/26/2010 1:34:34 PM , Rating: 3
I have yet to see an LCD that's under $1000 that has as good image quality. Desk space is not a problem for me, so until I can get an LCD that is under $300 that would match or exceed the image quality I get, I'm sticking with my CRT.

RE: .
By acer905 on 8/26/2010 6:30:23 PM , Rating: 2
I would also have to say that the 28" flat screen CRT television that I use most has twice the image clarity of my friends LCD's or Plasmas, without the need to spend extra money for "HD." CRT's only have one downside, and that is their bulk. IF you can deal with that, why get something else?

RE: .
By just4U on 8/26/2010 8:07:18 PM , Rating: 2
you must have been well off. I don't recall getting a 17" CRT till around 1999. Our first LCD tho gah ... a 17" Samsung in 2002 which set us back a good $1200.

It's still working still though my nephew has it!

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