Internet Explorer 9 Beta

Category: Browsers

Microsoft released the first beta version of Internet Explorer 9 in mid-September, 2010. It's the first major upgrade to IE in about two years - and, it seems, the first real improvement since the late 1990s! Here's the scoop on the upcoming IE9 browser, and how you can take it for a test drive...

Internet Explorer 9 - IE 9

What's New in Internet Explorer 9?

Microsoft got lazy when the only real threat to its desktop hegemony, Netscape, effectively died several years ago. With over 90 per cent of the browser market, there was not much incentive to make meaningful improvements to IE. So-called "major upgrades" IE 7 and IE 8 don't really add much to the browsing experience, and they are rife with glitches that drive users and Web site developers nuts. But over the past three years, competition arose again to light a fire under IE's developers.

In 2008, the upstart Firefox started moving up and over the 20% market share line, by offering a speedy browser with innovative features, a reputation for enhanced security, and an array of popular add-ons to enhance the browser experience. Google also entered the browser market with its Chrome browser: smaller, faster, more standard-compliant than IE. That got Redmond's attention. IE 9 beta is a marked improvement over all previous versions, and it's worth a look even if you're a diehard Firefox or "anything-but-Microsoft" user.

IE 9 works only with Windows Vista and Windows 7; if you are still clinging to XP, you are out of luck. The IE 9 download file is about 19 MB, and when you start installing it the package downloads even more components. You will have to restart your computer to complete the installation.

Imitation is the sincerest form of software development at Microsoft. Earlier versions of IE shamelessly ripped off Netscape and Firefox's best points, and IE 9 is a Google Chrome wannabe. That's good, actually. Microsoft has built a faster, simpler, less confusing browser in the Chrome tradition.

Those intrusive toolbars with their gigantic buttons have shrunk, leaving more screen space for viewing Web sites. Instead of two text boxes at the top, IE 9 combines URL address and search in a single text box.

More New Features in IE 9

You can drag a tab to the taskbar (or "superbar" as Microsoft prefers to call it in Windows 7) and the URL of the site displayed in the tab gets pinned to the taskbar, a convenient link to your favorite fantasy sports league, stock portfolio, or whatever you check frequently. A new feature called Jump Lists lets you hover over a pinned URL's icon and select links even deeper in the site; for example, a pinned icon might harbor links to your account, wish list, or shopping cart.

The back-end code of IE has been totally overhauled and cleaned up. This is the speediest browser Microsoft has ever released, and there are user-controllable features to speed it up even more. For example, you can view exactly how much time each add-on adds to IE 9's startup time, and disable any number of add-ons. (You can turn them on again as needed.) Also, tabs have been isolated as separate processes, so if there's a crash caused by bad code on one Web page it won't bring down the entire browser.

HTML 5 is supported in IE 9 much more completely than in previous versions. This helps Web developers design sites using the latest HTML features without worrying about browser compatibility (except for diehard users of legacy browsers).

The "final" version of IE 9 isn't expected until 2011. Until then, you may want to play with beta versions to get a look at the future of Web browsing. Just remember that beta means "test version," and if you scan the online forums for reports of how IE 9 works in the real world, you'll find that it doesn't render some pages properly, or it may crash under certain circumstances. You may even have trouble reverting from IE9 to an earlier version of Internet Explorer.

That's normal for beta software, so you shouldn't use it in your everyday work environment. A safer way to try out the IE9 beta is to install it in a virtual machine, on a separate computer that can be reformatted if necessary, or in a sandbox environment such as Spoon.

Have you tried the IE 9 beta? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Internet Explorer 9 Beta"

Posted by:

Dave Crew
27 Sep 2010

Hiya Bob

I read with interest your article on IE9 but feel it'll have a very restricted fan-base as it's only usable on Windows 7 and judging by the reluctance of people to leave XP I doubt very much whether many will experiences its advantages, if any, for a very long time.

Posted by:

Richard Dales-Coupland
27 Sep 2010

Finally, time to forget tedious Chrome, Firefox and Safari this is the dogs.........

Posted by:

27 Sep 2010

I downloaded IE 9 Beta. When I tried to access an internet page on a website that should have had a scroll bar on the right, the scroll bar was not there; so I could not access the rest of the page that I needed. I had to uninstall it and that was not easy!! (I am using Windows 7 OS.)

Posted by:

Dick Engh
27 Sep 2010

Using W7x64, IE9 will NOT install correctly. 2 other computers did great. Who to call for help? Dick

Posted by:

27 Sep 2010

I downloaded it and used it as my primary browser for a week, and I'm impressed!

Posted by:

ira trager
27 Sep 2010

i have ie9 and for the most part its ok. it is a lot faster than ie8. the issues i have is for one the inability to change search providers. it doesnt work. the tabs up top are difficult to decipher. i have also observed that some of my emails do not function correctly and some of them are blank. i verified this as an issue by using firefox. many times also when you click on restore previous browser session it just doesnt and instead of all the tabs that were there it opens multiple copies of msn and my msn pages. i have posted in microsoft forums and as of yet no responses. this is off the topic but the bing toolbar for me is blowed up and i followed support help. also it blowed up on another computer in a different location. so maybe other people can comment on that. my theory is that it is a microsoft issue they aint talking about. who would have thought that about microsoft.

Posted by:

28 Sep 2010

I am very pleased with the improvements in this version of internet explorer. It didn't work with at first, but it is working now.
Like the speed and the whole feel of it.
Two success stories from Microsoft - Windows 7 and now IE 9.

Posted by:

28 Sep 2010

to those who had a problem with ie 9 that's why they call it BETA.

Posted by:

28 Sep 2010

You can use IE 9 on Vista; I have installed and have been using it for about a week. Please remember to update the Flash Player Square, as the browser will not notify the user when a newer version is released. The flash player is also beta but you must use it with IE 9 in order to render flash properly.

There are issues around the flash player. An entire board at Adobe is dedicated to Flash Square. It can be difficult to install, especially if running x64 OS. IE 9 downloads 2 versions, one is 32 bit the other 64 bit; must be for backward compatibility. However, the shortcut may point to the 32 bit. If anyone has trouble go in and alter the file the shortcut points to within Properties of the shortcut.

I don't care for the missing notification bar, I often checked there for hints of issues with page loading. I do like the new download bar moved to the bottom of the page, now blocked content is less obtrusive. Downloads are also scanned for valid signatures and warns the user. It appears to block the download but just look in the Downloads folder (if you use that folder) and your download will be there.

Pages are just plain white while loading, and delays are common. Which is why I miss the notification bar. If a page doesn't render correctly initially, refresh the page, that often corrects the issue. I could say a lot more but this is getting too long. Just remember this is beta, the flash player is beta and expect issues. Don't download if you do not want to mess with issues and just want a browser to work.

Posted by:

28 Sep 2010

Thanks for writing about the availability of IE9 beta and highlighting some features of IE9. It is important to remember that IE9 is in beta, so minor issues are inevitable (thanks for reiterating this point, Seree).

Along with some cool new features like the ability to pin sites to the taskbar and tear-out tabs, IE9 is the only browser to support full hardware acceleration giving users the ability to get the most out of their PCs.

To see some sites that take advantage of hardware acceleration, visit the Beauty of the Web site here:



IE Outreach Team

Posted by:

29 Sep 2010

“HTML 5 is supported in IE 9" Come On Bob! Support is pathetic.

"Those intrusive toolbars with their gigantic buttons..." Why must everything be dumbed down to the level of a six year old child? The lack of a customizable UI is IE9's greatest flaw.

Yes the rendering engine is finally updated to meet modern standards but some websites will not display properly. Hardware acceleration on several dual GPU setups I've tested was unimpressive. Overall this feels like a very, very early beta.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I think I did mention the word "beta" in the article... eight times.

Posted by:

29 Sep 2010

FireFox 4.0 is in Beta too ... and puts the control into users hands not "you must do it our way because our research dept says so" attitude.

The lack of a menu bar? Just how juvenile is this UI? I had to gpedt.msc to find a menu bar. Other browsers allow the user to toggle on/off many elements of their respective browsers. Imagine that Cassandra_IE_Team.

Posted by:

11 Oct 2010

IE9beta does not require using the Group Policy Editor (gpedit) to access the full menu spectrum. Just tap Alt and the regular menu appears. The user can then use keyboard shortcuts to access menu items or the mouse. This is a toggle on/off feature. However, you can easily "lock" the menu bar via the View menu--Toolbars--Lock the Toolbars.

Additionally, the other familiar toolbars are accessible via the same method as accessing the menu bar, and these do not need to be "locked" and can just as easily be sent out of view again proving a larger viewing area for websites.

One of my favorite features is the ability to tear off tabs and attach them to the taskbar. When I need to visit a regular site a simple click on this button opens only that website, leaving alone the normal "home" page(s).

My main gripe was the missing status bar and its progress bar. Well, it too is easily accessible and enabled via the View menu on the menu bar.

My last gripe now is the inability to view the entire URL in the combo Address/Search bar. I like the combination, always thought it silly to have two boxes, but the box truncates URLs unless I copy and paste to the clipboard. I use multiple computers for my school and often must type an address from one browser into the window with the other browser. Perhaps this too is simply a matter of locating the appropriate setting. ;-)

Posted by:

08 Apr 2011

I am not very literate when it comes to computers so I hope someone might be able to help me. I was having a lot of problems with my old explorer so I downloaded the IE9 yesterday. It opens some sites quickly but for some others it takes forever...I have to refresh three or four times and even then it may or may not open so I have to start again. Does anyone know what the problem could be? Thank you

Posted by:

08 Apr 2011

I forgot to mention that I have Vista on my laptop. I do like the new look of the IE9 but because of problems opening sites i want to go back to my old explorer. Is there any way to do that?

Posted by:

11 Apr 2011

OS = Vista; I use yahoo email. Since I upgraded to IE9 (final product, not beta), I have had repeated difficulty accessing my contact list including frequent messages. Yahoo repeatedly required me to fill out Spammer blocker (10 twisted letter) inquiries (for the first time in 10 years of service). My inbox page repeatedly reloads itself making the page unusable.

Solution: switch to Chrome. Even with the inconvenience of learning a new system, and losing all my bookmarks, everything works perfectly now. It is so sweet to just have things work. Everything is faster, and the page design is so much better. If Google or Yahoo or anyone would just create a less complicated and simpler OS, I would buy in a heartbeat.

I Love Chrome

Posted by:

22 Apr 2011

I like Internet Explorer but it's constitently stops working. I have tried everything I can think of to no avail. Does anyone have any ideas as to why it does this? Please help.

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