Microsoft has had a long-standing relationship with businesses and consumers, but has been far behind the competition in terms of an intuitive, fast, up-to-date browser. With Firefox and Chrome ahead in terms of speed, Microsoft had to issue a competitive browser to keep up with consumer needs and a new age of browsing. Enter IE9.
A Quick History
Internet Explorer hasn’t always existed (*gasp!*). In fact, before IE, there was a little program called Mosaic. Microsoft modified this early browser into what would eventually become Internet Explorer 1 in 1995. Soon after, Internet Explorer 1.5 was released, then version 2.0, and so on. In total, there have been nine major releases of Internet Explorer (though there were smaller iterations, like IE 1.5, that could be included in that as well), with a rumored tenth installation on the way. Internet Explorer 9 is the most up to date version of Internet Explorer, though it is certainly not the most widely-used (that title currently belongs to Internet Explorer 8 with 31.28% market share, followed by IE6 with 10.36%, then IE7 with 7.04%, then IE9 4.19%).
New User Interface
Microsoft came out with IE9 in March of 2011, and it came with a relatively drastic new design interface. Citing a need to focus more on the web than on the browser, IE9 features a very simple layout.
The most drastic change is the amount of clutter that was removed from Internet Explorer 8. The loss of the extra buttons (Page, Safety, Tools, ?, Print, etc) and the combination of the URL bar and the address bar into a single, short search bar make it much easier to navigate through the browser. The increased size of the “Back” button makes navigation through pages easier. The combination buttons on the right side (next to the tabbed windows), Home, Favorites and Settings, are simple and easy to traverse, mostly because everything has been simplified down. There’s no more status bar on the bottom of the page either – which makes the browser focus a great deal more on the web page you’re viewing. Quite simply, this is the most elegant and simplified version of the Internet Explorer interface to date.
New-Age Web Friendly
If you’ve ever used Internet Explorer 8, you know what a slug it is. Microsoft can tout security and business-friendlyness all it wants, but when a good chunk of its OS licenses are for consumers, it definitely needs to cater to their needs as well. And the one thing users have clearly been expressing a want for is speed. Internet Explorer 8 was a turtle compared to Firefox 3.5.X and Google Chrome. IE9 changed all that, bringing the browser back up to (acceptable) speed. It’s still no Google Chrome or Firefox 5, but it is certainly much faster than previous versions of IE, which is something many people will appreciate.
Moreover, IE9 brings (copies?) lots of great browser features to the Windows user base. For example, tabbed windows are now tearable, meaning you can click and drag a browser tab away from the navigation bar to make it into a new browser window. Pinned sites are a nifty feature that were originally exclusive to IE9 but have now made their way into Firefox/Chrome. With a website you particularly like (YouTube, Panodora, The NY Times, etc), you can take a tab of the website and place it on the Windows 7 taskbar. Then, once you hit the link in the taskbar (via a button with the websites logo), it will pop up in a nicely color-themed window in IE9. Below is a shot of the YouTube window, with icons for YouTube, Amazon, eBay and Google below.
There’s a bunch of other awesome, built-in features as well. Internet Explorer 9 features a newly revamped (and pretty) Downloads Manager, built-in support for HTML5, Jump Lists for easy navigation to specific pages from the Windows taskbar, and a new, unobtrusive Notification Bar for downloads and warnings. You can check out the other features on Microsoft’s IE9 features page.
Not the Old IE
I believe the first version of IE I ever used was Internet Explorer 5 back in 1999 or so. I’ve used every version since that with very mixed feelings. The moment Windows XP came out and we purchased a computer with it, I switched to Firefox. Nowadays, I’m a bit more of a power user with five browsers I use on a daily basis (IE9, Firefox 5, Chrome Beta, Opera and Safari) and so I don’t focus solely on a browser as much anymore. They all perform about the same for me. Internet Explorer 9 is honestly one of my favorite browsers now – it is on par with Firefox and Chrome, in my opinion. Of course, looking at the general public, most people would be satisfied with any of those browsers, but considering IE9/IE10 will come standard in Windows 8, I look forward to seeing new iterations and where this browser will go. It’s solid, and much faster than previous generations. It’s about time Microsoft made something cool other than their 360.
And they did it all without dancing. At least, as far as I know.