Microsoft is pulling out all the stops to mark the launch of the open beta for Internet Explorer 9, a web browser the company promises will “beautify the web.”
The IE9 beta launches today here at the Design Concourse Center in San Francisco with a major gala that includes hundreds of developers, journalists and Microsoft employees, as well as a live band playing on pedestals in the lobby.
“The browser is a stage. It is the backdrop of the web,” said Corporate Vice President of Internet Explorer Dean Hachamovitch.
Microsoft says that IE9 is a reinvention of the browser. It not only includes greater HTML5 and web standard compliance, but also the ability to turn any website into an application on the Windows taskbar. Thee websites are pinned to the taskbar, providing users with a one-click option to a their favorite websites. It also includes Windows 7’s jump lists; any website that supports them will provide a quick menu to its most popular webpages.
The focus of IE9 is on the “regular consumer,” which may irk those of us who generally have more than 10 or 20 tabs open at any given time. Tabs appear on the right side of the address bar, decreasing the amount of real-estate for tabs. To help decrease tab overload, they are grouped based on different websites within the taskbar.
Perhaps IE9’s biggest selling point is hardware acceleration. The company has used four developer previews to show off the speed of IE9 compared to its competitors. IE9 harnesses the PC’s hardware to accelerate graphics, videos and text. The result is that IE9 is able to render heavy graphic interfaces far better than even Chrome or Firefox.
The IE9 beta is available for download today on the Beautify the Web site Microsoft has launched as part of its promotional campaign. We have had access to the IE9 beta for a while now and will be posting our thoughts and reviews soon. In the meantime, let us know whether you believe Microsoft can get back into the browser game with IE9.