Some of you might not have known this but Microsoft has release a public beta of its web browser, Internet Explorer 9(IE9). Beta software is defined as pre-release software that is still in the process of development and that is made available to "beta-testers" for the purpose of identifying problems in the application. Because of the nature of beta-software, running such software could potentially cause system-wide problems. Now that I got the precautions out of the way
Some of you might think that a web browser is a web browser is a web browser. For those of us that spend 80% of their day on the interwebs, you come to want a better experience browsing. For myself, personally, I only used Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) for work websites that do not function in any other web browser (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc.). My personal favorite browser was Google Chrome because it is fast, lightweight and includes extensions which add to the functionality of the browser significantly. But with the release of the IE9 beta, things might be changing for me. Lets get on with the review shall we.
It looks like Microsoft saw wisdom in Chrome's minimalistic style and got rid of all its old toolbars and buttons. There is only the back and forward button next to the address bar (or "Onebox" as they call it now) and then three buttons in the right hand corner, favorites, home, and settings.
Microsoft also implemented the ability to reorganize tabs easily, or to drag them out to make a new window. Although they did a better job than Firefox according to me, I still feel that Chrome takes the throne in this department.
With IE9 you can also get add-ons now (something Firefox started and Chrome followed suit). One thing that IE9 beats all the other browsers with is unsurprisingly how well it works with Windows 7. You can pin a website to the taskbar and make it look like it is an installed application, and you can see all the different tabs, and select one by simply hovering your mouse over the icon on the taskbar.
Microsoft decided not to support Windows XP at all with IE9, which is disappointment to many users I'm sure.
IE9 incorporates another favorite Chrome function of mine, which is that it displays a list of your most popular sites whenever you open a new tab. This allows you quick and easy access to the sites you visit most. It doesn't show a thumbnail as Chrome does however, but a small icon as you can see in the picture below.
It has always bothered me that you don't have more control over which sites are displayed on this page in Chrome, and the same goes for IE9. You do have the ability to remove a site that you don't want there, but you can't add one that you do want there, except by visiting the site frequently enough for it to be one of your most popular ones. In Chrome you can at least pin a site to that page, which isn't an option in IE9. I'd also like the ability to show more than just 10 sites on the page, but alas, it is a set amount.
I have been using IE9 as my only browser since the day that Microsoft released it to the public, September 15th. I can say that I havent missed Chrome nor Firefox. There are still a ton of bugs that need to get worked out before the full release but IE9 is stable enough for me. If you want to give it a go around you can go here and select your language to download. Just make sure you are using Windows Vista or Windows 7.
In conclusion, IE9 might not be ready for everyday use for everyone (cough.Neadom.cough) but along with Windows 7, Windows Phone 7 and now IE9, I feel that Microsoft is coming out of the Dark Ages and is starting to regain some of its mass appeal that it once had. I have to give you two thumbs up Microsoft, good work.