Long awaited, the new Internet Explorer was released last night and was introduced not only as the fastest and most standards-compliant version of the Internet Explorer, but also as one that can compete on features, design and usability with Mozilla Firefox, Google's Chrome, the Opera Browser and Apple's Safari.
Mercurytide took a look at the new features and capabilities of the new Internet Explorer to see if Microsoft can keep their promise of the best web experience.
So what's new?
Compared with its older versions, the new Internet Explorer 9 is a great product and definitely has the potential to compete with Firefox, Google Chrome and Co. There are new features, such as Pinned Sites to create a tighter integration between the browser and your desktop, better privacy control, faster performance and improved add-on management helping you to ensure that your browser stays fast over time.
Microsoft decided to combine the search and address bar that allows you to either search the web or navigate to a website and - very different to its competitors - tabs are by default located next to the address bar. The stop and refresh buttons have been moved to the right side of the address bar and are smaller to take up as little space as possible while the "Back" and "Forward" buttons in the top left corner are now larger. Notifications, such as the pop-up blocker or session recovery warnings now appear at the bottom of the browser window and allow you to continue browsing without interference. The integration with Windows 7 operating system allows pinning favourite website to your desktop taskbar from where you can navigate to the pinned site without even opening the browser.
Very similar to how we know it from Google Chrome's "Most Visited Sites", the tab page shows you previous browsing session and provides large favicons of your most frequently-visited web sites for quicker access. Also in regards to privacy protection, Microsoft enhanced Internet Explorer and allows advertiser tracking protection to prevent web advertisers from tracking your behaviour on the internet.
What does it mean?
While this probably just sounds like gobbledygook for some, developers like us are more than happy about the extended support for HTML 5, CSS3, ECMAScript5 and other "future-web" technologies. The process of making websites function and display correctly across all available browsers will be a lot easier.
Overall the new Internet Explorer 9 is a great accomplishment and again up to speed with its competitors. But along with all the new features, Microsoft makes it very clear that this new modern browser requires a new modern operating system. Internet Explorer 9 is just available for Windows 7 and Windows Vista. If your computer is running on Windows XP - like nearly half of all computers worldwide do - you won't be able to use Internet Explorer 9.