IE 9 is the first Microsoft Web browser designed from the start
to be safe. Whether it actually is safer than competing browsers isn't
known yet, but my first impression is favorable.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983
Microsoft's new IE browser is a charm
Oct. 10, 2010
By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2010, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2010, The Post-Standard
Microsoft is batting 1,000 lately. First it hit a home run with Windows 7, and now it's knocking the ball
out of the park with the latest version of the Internet Explorer Web browser.
Internet Explorer 9 is still being worked on, so you can't get the finished version yet. But you can
download the beta, or test, version if your PC is running any Windows 7 PC (or any Windows Vista PC equipped with Service Pack 2,
called SP 2). Sorry, IE 9 won't run on any other versions of Windows.
You can get the free IE 9 beta from this address, which has a shortened URL to make it easy to type: tinyurl.com/techno-ie9. Microsoft hasn't said when the beta period will
end. IE 9 will also be free when it is officially released.
IE 9 has many improvements over earlier version of Internet Explorer. It's faster displaying pages -- it
uses the video card in your PC to help out, as long as you have Win 7 or Vista, which are designed for that -- and it displays
Web content very well. Like Apple's Safari browser, IE 9 knows how to take advantage of HTML 5, the latest code for anything
shown on the Web. HTML 5 improves many of the features of a Web page, especially video. (Apple has been pushing HTML 5 as a way
to avoid Adobe's buggy Flash software, used in nearly all Web browsers to show old-fashioned video. HTML 5 video loads faster and
is much less likely to crash the browser.)
IE 9 is also the first Microsoft Web browser designed from the start to be safe. Whether it actually is
safer than competing browsers isn't known yet, but my first impression is favorable. This is the first recent version of Internet
Explorer that I felt comfortable using.
What many newcomers to IE 9 may balk at, however, is the minimalist browser screen. Microsoft obviously
looked carefully at Google's browser, Chrome, and decided Chrome's out-of-sight menus made sense. In both Chrome and IE 9, menus
pop out when you click on a small button but otherwise remain hidden. This provides extra "headroom" at the top of the screen.
As with Chrome, I had no trouble getting used to the hidden menus, and I especially appreciated the extra
vertical room in the browser window. Whenever I use my Windows 7 netbook for Web browsing, I need all the window space I can get.
Microsoft also copied the way Chrome combines the browser address bar with the search form. To search, you
simply type your search term where the address line normally goes.
I'm still a big fan of both Chrome and Firefox and would rather use either of them for normal browsing
instead of Internet Explorer 9. Firefox can 't be beat in one important area -- add-on features that provide extra safety and
convenience. There are thousands of add-ons. (Chrome has hundreds, and its list is growing fast.)
The folks who designed Chrome and Firefox think so highly of their browsers they make sure all of us can
use them -- whether we are Windows, Mac or Linux users. Unfortunately, Microsoft acts like it inhabits a Windows-only world, even
when much of the world is no longer dominated by Windows. (At college campuses, for example, most of the students use Macs.) This
attitude keeps IE 9, a worthy Web browser at last, from appearing in Mac or Linux versions.