The brawl between browsers heated up on Wednesday, when Microsoft released the beta version of IE9. Whichever browser comes out on top, web users will be the likely winners, with improved speed, security, graphics, and lots of bells and whistles.
Of course, in order to test the new IE9 features, you must wade through the installation process, which takes a while, requiring a reboot and time consuming updates to complete. Before downloading, you might also want to know that the only operating systems on which IE9 works are Vista and Windows 7 (nothing here for XP users). You can download IE9 here .
On the right side of your screen, you’ll need to click on this .
At this point, you’ll be directed to select your language and operating system.
And you’re on your way.
Cosmetically, IE9 is an improvement over the somewhat clunky earlier versions of Internet Explorer. It incorporates the translucent styling of Vista and Windows 7 into a streamlined viewing window with a reduced frame size that allows a clearer view of the web page. The user interface is also an improvement over previous editions, incorporating a single field (One Box) to enter either a URL (internet address) or do a word search. In addition to that, all the tools can be found in one drop-down menu, which contains several sub menus.
However, to those of us who’ve been using Chrome or Firefox, much of this sounds very familiar.
Pinned Sites, however, is a functional new toy that many may find useful. With pinned sites, IE lets you lock your favorite sites to the Windows Taskbar, in the same way open programs appear. If you want to use the pinned sites feature, just grab the icon to the left of the address, and drag it down to your taskbar.
Once a pinned site is showing on your taskbar, right click for options.
They also have what they call Tear Off tabs with Aero Snap. With this, you can just grab a browser tab and snap it as you would any other window in Windows 7.
In addition to the changes in the user interface and cleaner appearance, IE boasts html5 support. Html is a coded language embedded in text and images used in the construction of web pages. Html5 is an upgrade of the original standard, designed to improve access to web based video, and enhance user/web interaction, among other things. However, not all websites provide html5 content, although more are switching over. Where html5 is available, the look is striking.
Security is also a critical component of IE9, as it provides warnings of suspicious websites or content. It also allows manual blocking of website content.
For former IE users, who have switched to other browsers, the release of IE9 may just bring them back into the fold.
If this all sounds good to you, go to their Test Drive  site and take it for a spin.
Note: In March, Microsoft announced the official release of Internet Explorer 9. We were planning a review of the final version, but after giving it a thorough test run, we found it to be, on the surface at least, identical to a beta version. The final version is available both as a standard version and one with built-in Bing search and MSN as the home page. Of course these features can easily be added, but if these are features you want, a couple steps can be saved by choosing this version.
Click here for the download. On the right side of the page, you can select whichever version you’d like.