Feeds

Microsoft delivers Google Chrome IE9 beta

Overdue features, at last

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

First look Microsoft is offering Internet Explorer 9 beta for download. Although this follows four earlier platform previews, this is the first time the new IE user interface has been shown to the public.

Like Google Chrome, IE9 combines the address and search boxes into a single "OneBox". It also integrates with the Windows 7 taskbar, enabling website shortcuts to be pinned in the same way as applications, and supporting jumplists and custom preview windows.

I9 beta onebox

OneBox: your combined address and search box

The new features are based partly on research showing that users make little use of browser features. "Fewer than one third have opened Favourites, fewer than a quarter have pressed the home button," says product manager Ian Moulster. "Windows features are used more. Sixty two per cent have pinned an app to the taskbar, 90 per cent have launched an application from the taskbar."

IE9 therefore presents a minimal user interface in the browser chrome, but adds integration with Windows, especially Windows 7. IE9 also runs on Windows Vista, but not on Windows XP. Users can drag tabs to the taskbar to pin them, and web sites can author jumplist pop-up menus and custom preview windows. Blurring the boundaries between launching an application and launching a website is deliberate, bringing web applications a little closer to desktop applications.

Less browser chrome, a single box for URLs and search, shortcuts that open web applications: three ideas that seem to echo those from Google's competing browser. Does IE9 offer anything new?

The parallels are unmistakeable, but features like jumplists are Windows-specific, and there are significant differences in implementation. For example, the IE9 search bar does not send every letter typed to a search engine by default, and IE9 windows opened from the taskbar still have access to new tabs, whereas in Chrome they are disabled.

IE9_beta_jumplists

Windows-specific Jumplists gather recently viewed web sites

Another new feature in IE9 is a download manager. This is long overdue. IE9's download manager includes virus checking, as well as a complex screening algorithm that is meant to warn users of unsafe downloads.

Just like in Windows itself, many performance issues in IE are caused by add-ons, especially when multiple add-ons or toolbars are installed. A new feature measures how long add-ons take to initialise and warns the user if it seems excessive - a clever way of shifting the blame and helping users to tune their browsers.

The new IE9 user interface has some welcome though not ground-breaking features, but what counts for more is the hardware acceleration and fast JavaScript engine already seen in the platform preview. Clearly Microsoft is serious about getting back into the browser race. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.