updated 12:20 pm EDT, Wed September 15, 2010
Microsoft to post IE9 beta today
Microsoft today is launching Internet Explorer 9 in its first public beta. The new release due to go live this afternoon has a major new interface design that cuts away most non-essential features: it gets rid of all but basic navigation buttons and puts the search bar, tabs and buttons on the same row. IE9's goal is to put as much attention on the site as possible, the company said.
Microsoft is also taking advantage of some of the Windows-specific features added in between releases. Any browser tab can be pinned to the taskbar as though it were an app to encourage using web apps. Surfers with sufficiently fast graphics hardware will also see Direct2D used to accelerate rendering certain web code. Some websites are even partnering with Microsoft to customize the interface and will change button colors as viewers reach sites like Amazon or CNN.
The beta will be available later this afternoon. Microsoft hasn't penned in a release for the finished version, but early 2011 is a possible candidate.
A rapid release may come to be important for Microsoft, as it has lost much of its clout in the browser world. It once had over 90 percent share after the practical death of Netscape but has dropped to 60 percent after Firefox, Safari and eventually Chrome began stealing users away. Many users have defected after Internet Explorer repeatedly lagged behind in speed and have often complained that the browser has lacked features relative to its peers.