Internet Explorer 9 Beta has been released

 IE9Beta on Windows 7

Yesterday, Microsoft released the public preview of Internet Explorer 9. This release is by far the most advanced version of Internet Explorer. In fact, Microsoft has setup a new web site, www.BeautyOfTheWeb.com, to both introduce and advertise Internet Explorer 9, as well as to distribute this release to the interested members of the public and to beta testers.

Internet Explorer 9 Beta is available for Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. As for the users of Windows XP, I’m sure Microsoft is sorry that it is unable to release a version of this product for this group of users. (Do you think a sarcasm was intended?) Microsoft Windows XP currently holds more than 55% of the entire Windows market share, although it is slowly and steadily losing its share in favor of Windows 7.

Proper way of downloading Internet Explorer 9 Beta

If you try to download Internet Explorer 9 Beta from www.BeautyOfTheWeb.com as I did, you’ll probably end up with what I did: An installer no bigger than 2 megabytes! As you have probably guessed, this file is merely a bootstrapper (web installer) that downloads the real Internet Explorer 9 as well as several Windows updates that are required to install Internet Explorer 9 Beta.

You can download a standalone installer for Internet Explorer 9 from Internet Explorer 9 Worldwide Download Site if you wish. The standalone installer is approximately 35 megabytes. You can also download Internet Explorer 9 in other languages and for other operating systems from that location. To download Internet Explorer 9 Beta for Windows Server, scroll to them bottom of that page.

What’s new?

IE9 SVG Support
Internet Explorer 9 beta now supports SVG format. The image above is Mahuri.svg on Wikimedia Commons. You can see image description page there.

Internet Explorer user interface has lost more weight. Search bar is now merged with the old address bar and now you have a One Bar. There is no separate tab bar and command bar anymore; they appear next to One Bar. However, Internet Explorer 9 Beta has no status bar and progress bar. Sometimes, the throbber responsible for showing the loading of the site does not show up. I wish progress bar had also been merged with One Bar, as is the case with Windows Explorer in Windows 7. I could not find several of the commands that were available in Internet Explorer 8, including Work Offline…, Help and another one that I have forgotten its name. (Like always, I managed to take Internet Explorer into Offline mode via Windows Media Player and Windows Live Mail.) Let use hope these issues are resolved in the final release.

Internet Explorer 9 beta now supports Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) level 3 and Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format. In fact, Internet Explorer 9 beta takes over the .svg file association upon installation. This was a good news for me and should be a good news for Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipedia, although I think you will not see them taking advantage of this very soon; at least not sooner than you’ll see Internet Explorer 11.

Internet Explorer 9 beta now features the long-expected internal download manager! (Hurrah!) In addition, it can now turn websites into web applications that can be summoned from Desktop, Taskbar or Start Menu. To support this, it introduces a new file format (.website) that can, contrary to traditional web shortcuts (.url), hold more than a just a URL to the web site.

But enough of this! Internet Explorer’s official web site, www.BeautyOfTheWeb.com, is doing more than well to advertise for Internet Explorer. Let’s proceed to some more obscure aspects of the new Internet Explorer.

Immediately apparent flaw

The first thing that catches my eyes is the fact that the loss of weight in the user interface does include a loss weight in the various context menus. There several commands in the context menus that are always disabled, including a Paste command in the context menu of the body of the web pages.

Second, Internet Explorer 9 features a lot of performance improvements; it promises full hardware acceleration, even better than what Mozilla Firefox 4 beta is promising; it promises JavaScript performance improvements with its new Chakara engine. However, it seems Internet Explorer 9 beta has forgotten one aspect of performance improvements which I always wished it never do.

If you take a look at this blog post, you’ll see that Internet Explorer 9 developers have defined eleven areas in which Internet Explorer 9 performance can be measured: Networking, HTML, CSS, Collections, JavaScript, Marshalling, DOM, Formatting, Block Building, Layout and Design. However, they had only benchmarked ten areas not eleven! Networking performance is not benchmarked. Like all other released of Internet Explorer, it is forgotten!

But why? The fact that dial-up Internet access is deprecated doesn’t mean that bandwidth and networking performance are no longer important. In fact, it is growing more important than ever. With these new performance improvements in Internet Explorer, we are bound to see more and more voluminous web sites. I expect we are bound to see higher definition video, especially with the arrival of the new High-Efficiency Video Coding. In time, I have experienced the worst network congestions, not in dial-up Internet access, but in enterprise network where they were connected to 25Mbps Internet networks but a lot of users were also on line.

Let’s hope that Internet Explorer team has merely forgotten to put their Networking stack benchmark data on the chart, or that they did in another blog post that has escaped my notice. I’ll search more on this and, if the result was not satisfactory, will submit feedback about this to Microsoft.

Giving feedback

Speaking of feedback: Like the last two versions, it is possible to report bugs and submit feedback about Internet Explorer via Microsoft Connect website for Internet Explorer. Once you have registered in the site and enrolled for the beta test program, you may submit feedback from Internet Explore main menu.


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Posted on 17 September 2010, in Software Review. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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