Finally it is time for a new Microsoft browser

Last week saw Microsoft launching their latest internet browser, Internet Explorer 9, and amidst the flurry of praise and aversion JHNet set out to investigate, and come to our own conclusion on the web-toddler.

Let us begin with the pros. We have highlighted a few points that we believe to be most beneficial to end users (and of course, we web developers):

  • IE 9 incorporates some impressive features, such as plugging directly into your graphics processor, to deal with some of the resource-hogging tasks such as rendering the page and rich graphics. This results in much faster performance.
  • The IE9 video engine uses far less resources to play (especially HD) videos
  • Text will also be animated more smoothly, offering better sub-pixel positioning.
  • IE9 also presents improved printing capabilities. Prints will no longer differ from the actual web content and even supports opacity effects on images.
  • For developers IE9 supports HTML5, CCS3 and has improved greatly in speed in adherence to web standards.
  • Improved developer tools

We did, however, find a few negatives regarding the new browser:

  • The biggest gripe for most potential users will be that IE9 is not supported on Windows XP. While there are still many users running Windows XP, we feel this point was a little neglected.
  • Tabs from your previous session cannot be reopened when the browser is closed.
  • Downloads no longer have separate buttons on the taskbar, but are grouped collectively into a single download manager button.
  • The interface is less customisable.

It is reported that on the release day IE9 was downloaded 2.35 million times in only 24 hours. This is fantastic news for Microsoft; however, the question remains…

Why does Microsoft not try and win users on older versions of IE, in the same manner FireFox prompts users when an update is available? Is market share the only concern, or do they consider a richer user experience? For developers this will be grand, as we will need fewer hacks for cross-browser compatibility, and the later versions will allow users a more enjoyable internet experience.

Our conclusion is as follows:

Microsoft claims that IE9 is the best browser available for Windows, as they developed it specifically for Windows utilising their in-depth knowledge of the operating system. This may be so when one reviews the new features that are implemented, and in comparison to its predecessor, IE8.

Nevertheless, we believe that browsers are like cars. There is a model and colour to suit every individual’s preference.

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