IE9: making the browser invisible so users can concentrate on the show
Announced with a lot of fanfare, even with its beta label, Microsoft is rather proud of their new Internet Explorer 9 browser, betting on hardware acceleration to erase past memories.
Don’t be mistaken, even though this version of Internet Explorer 9 announced yesterday comes with the beta tag, it’s far from being a test version. Users feedback will of course be collected so that some adjustments can be made for the final release, but today’s launch of Internet Explorer 9 is the real deal states Bernard Ourghanlian, Microsoft France’s Technical and Security Director, for whom IE9 is a real "new generation browser".
The IE9 beta brings with it all of the new functions while also unveiling the new user interface which was missing from the four previous technical releases aimed at developers.
IE9 is betting heavily on hardware acceleration through the use of DirectX 10 API’s so that the program can fully benefit from the latest graphics processors. The results are impressive when looking at the speed at which text, pictures and videos are displayed, with none of the competing products for the time being up to this standard, even if until now all demonstrations were made against IE9.
With IE9, Microsoft has fully embraced new standards thanks to a new scripting engine, CSS3 and SVG vector graphics, while also implementing HTML5, even though the final specifications of this standard are yet to be finalised. Thanks to the support of HTML5, Internet Explorer is now able to natively play audio and video without plugin’s like Flash and Silverlight. For video, the H.264 codec has been adopted, although other codec’s can also be installed by the user if desired (notably VP8/WebM).
All of these elements have been brought together to follow the dynamic evolution of the Web, something which is requested increasingly often by users. Microsoft has worked with more than 70 partners including the Soleil Noir creation studio and Dailymotion. The online video platform includes the new HTML5 player which has been optimised for all of IE9’s possibilities. For Bernard Ourghanlian, IE9 also provides new opportunities to Web developers. According to him, the Web is a show, and IE9 is the hall. For this to be done successfully, the browser has to be invisible.
What really strikes you with IE9 is the bare user interface which provides as much space as possible to the content. All of the menus have been merged, with the tabs being moved to the right of the new bar. The Web is a show, with each window being an application which can be detached and dragged onto the Windows 7 task bar so that it can take advantage of operating systems functions like jumplists.
While the address bar and search field have been merged into one, Microsoft insists that this won’t have a detrimental impact on the respect of private life. By default, the information entered into this bar won’t be sent to the search engine. This is perhaps a veiled criticism of Google Chrome and their Omnibox.
IE9 has borrowed some good ideas for the competition, bringing it into line as a modern browser which will allow it to compete for additional market share (currently 60% of the global market is controlled by IE), even if according to Microsoft France, Internet Explorer has managed to stop its recent slide. Bernard Ourghanlian does concede though that without competition from other browsers, Internet Explorer 9 would surely not have been released.
The beta version of Internet Explorer 9 can be downloaded from this page for Windows 7 and Windows Vista. The program is not compatible for the large number of Windows XP users out there due to the graphics platform not being up to standard.
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