IE9 beta: Power-packed, but not for everyone

For most people, surfing the internet has become synonymous with clicking on the ‘e’ icon on their computers to launch Internet Explorer (IE). And while it is by far the most popular browser in the world, of late, IE had seen increasing threat from others such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera that claim to be faster, have more features, and more secure. Microsoft’s answer to all these criticisms has been to unveil a new version of the browser: Internet Explorer 9 (IE9).

A beta that looks good...

The new browser is currently in a beta version, which means that while it has a number of features and is generally usable, it is not quite the finished article,

and therefore is liable to the odd crash and fumble. But for all its alleged rough edges, there can be no doubting that IE9 does represent a significant step forward for browsers in general.

First, you will have to get over the slightly tedious task of installing it: Download it from http:// windows. microsoft.com/en-IN /internet-explorer /download/ie-9 /worldwide; then wait for updates to be installed, and finally restart the computer to get things working properly.

However, once you get started, your patience is amply rewarded. IE9 sports a minimalistic look that seems similar to Google Chrome. Gone are the crowded toolbars, and in its place is a simple address bar with some navigation buttons (back, forward, refresh, and so on).

The back and forward buttons also change colour depending on the site you are browsing. The result is a much cleaner, uncluttered appearance. Incidentally, the address bar, where you key-in the address of the website you wish to visit, now doubles as a search bar, just like in Chrome and Firefox. However, in a neat addition, even as you type what you are looking for, suggestions keep popping up below.

For instance, if you are searching for the weather in Mumbai, by the time you finishing typing “Mumbai weather ” you will not only have a list of things you could search for, but also the current weather conditions of the metropolis, this, even before you hit the Search button.

... is power-packed ...

There are other new features as well. You can now drag down a tab of a site you visit frequently and pin it to the Windows taskbar at the bottom of the screen where it will appear like the icon of an application. So the next time you want to visit the site, just click on the icon on the taskbar and you will be on your way.

In the case of certain websites, such as Facebook and Twitter , you can also right-click on the icon to bring up a “jump list”, which lets you perform a variety of tasks like post new messages, view mentions and news and so on. In fact, in Facebook, the icon even displays a red dot whenever you have a new message, saving you the trouble of going to the site.

Also, thanks to better handling of HTML 5, you can browse the internet in a much faster and interactive manner; with much better handling of games and videos than on any other browser. Another reason for IE9’s better performance is its utilisation of a computer’s resources: If your machine has an advanced graphics card, the browser will use it to render a better image or video, giving you a richer experience.

And if you think that the add-ons small applications that let you do things from within a browser, such as check your Gmail or tweet, are slowing down your surfing, simply use the Manage add-ons feature to see which one is affecting the performance of IE9, and shut it down.

... but is not for everyone

IE9 has got the looks (all the see-through joys of Windows 7 are here), the speed and the features to take on the best, but alas, it is not for all Windows users. As of now, the new browser is available only for those who have Windows Vista (Service Pack 2) and Windows 7. Windows XP users, who comprise roughly half of all those using Windows computers in the world (including most netbooks), cannot use the new software at all.

From what we heard during our interaction with Microsoft , there are no plans to make a version for Windows XP. The fact that the browser also uses the resources of the computer such as graphics cards for better rendering means that it delivers different results on different computer, and also tends to eat away a bit (but not too much) of the battery life on notebooks.

And, while IE9 is definitely faster than earlier editions of IE, we still found Google Chrome to be much faster on most sites, especially those that did not depend too much on multimedia. In short, IE9 is a browser that shows immense promise, but is unlikely to go mainstream, at least not until most users migrate to Windows 7 or Vista.

For those who have already migrated, it is a mustdownload. And, of course, we are also keenly waiting to see what Google and Mozilla will do now. IE9 definitely heralds a new chapter in the browser wars.



courtesy: The Economic Times