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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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RE: IE9 Speed
By Reclaimer77 on 8/26/2010 4:44:23 PM , Rating: -1
The 3D/Direct2D acceleration is also smoother and faster than Firefox 4's (which isn't turned on by default either).

Ok maybe it's because I use an SSD and have 3d optimized Flash player installed, but I honestly don't get this whole browser speed debate. I have tried all three main browsers, and none of them appear to be any slower than the other. They load pretty much instantly, and render the pages as fast as my internet connection can.

Who are all these people noticing speed problems with browsers? I really don't understand.

It's standards and HTML5 support has also increased a lot since then, and it now gets around 95/100 in the Acid3 test.

For all of the 5 websites that support HTML5 that nobody goes to? Meah, at this point that's not worth switching to IE when a month from now Firefox will be on par.

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

Well, enjoy the spyware and vulnerabilities :)

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.

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