Internet Explorer 9 Beta Download Released Today

Microsoft’s new web browser, IE9, is its most ambitious yet, as the company bids to take on Google Chrome and Firefox.

IE9's interface is spare and clean-looking. Photo: Computer World

Microsoft has launched the first public beta of its new Internet Explorer browser, IE9. The company claims that the new programme’s speed and security will change users’ perception of the web and even foster the creation of a more “beautiful” internet.

Internet Explorer 9 Beta was made available for download shortly after it was announced at a launch event in San Francisco, around 10:00 a.m. Pacific time. The download link for Windows Vista and Windows 7 users can be accessed here, at the official IE9’s website, www.thebeautyoftheweb.com

Microsoft says that key to IE9 is using computer hardware to accelerate performance, and demonstrated this by comparing its product to Google’s Chrome. Running the same graphics test, IE9 was up to five times faster.

IE9 also makes good use of another popular feature -- when you open a new tab, rather than go to a blank page, it opens with thumbnails of pages you've visited most frequently. Photo: Computer World

The company also demonstrated a new version of Amazon called Book Shelf, which rather than using a list of search results presents pictures of books’ front covers and reveals more information when users click.

Microsoft says that the speed of its browser allows Amazon present an enhanced version of its site that mixes the web with the feel of a real-world bookshop.

The new browser effectively allows web sites to look far more like applications than web sites. Adopting a cleaner interface, IE9 now uses a single box for web addresses, searching and users’ web history.

By integrating more fully into Windows, IE9 also allows sites to be pinned to the taskbar. When users hover the mouse over the pinned site, the icon can provide direct integration with social networking or system controls such as music playing.

The most compelling Windows 7 feature is the ability to "pin" a Web site to the taskbar by visiting the site and dragging its URL to the taskbar.Photo: Computer World

In recent years, Microsoft’s browser has come in for sharp criticism as IE6, still used across many public services and major organisations, has seen its security flaws exposed on multiple occasions.

With IE9, Microsoft hopes to integrate the web more fully into Windows so that going online does not feel different from using other programmes.

The company’s Leila Martine, head of Windows in the UK, says that the new browser will make using the internet a more “immersive experience”, as well as providing a faster service. [Microsoft and Beauty of the Web via Computer World, Ars Technica]

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