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Internet Explorer 9 RC released: Everything you need to know

Posted by Mohd Khairun Nasir Saadi On - - 0 comments

The Internet Explorer 9 Release Candidate is now available. For all intents and purposes, this means IE9 is feature complete. Small changes might occur, but it's mostly bug stomping from here on out. Download it, give it a whirl; it might just be the first IE browser that's actually enjoyable to use.

Download Squad got its grubby mandibles on the RC a few days ago, which means we can show you around all of the major new features -- and some of the smaller, less-obvious, but equally neat changes too.

Internet Explorer 9 is all about cutting back to what made IE8 great, and unceremoniously ramming the offal through the waste disposal. InPrivate Browsing is still here, and InPrivate Filtering has donned its superhero leotard and returned as Tracking Protection. Color-coded tab groups remain, as does SmartScreen Filtering. The awful UI, though, and the barbaric JavaScript engine, are gone.

Microsoft has invested a lot of time, effort and money into Internet Explorer 9 and -- as you'll see after the break -- the results really do speak for themselves. IE9 desperately wants to be your steed of choice for the HTML5 revolution.

But has it succeeded?


The first and most shocking change to Internet Explorer 9 is its interface -- it's actually pretty. We regularly found ourselves minimizing IE8 whenever we had girls visiting the Download Squad bunker, but with IE9... Internet Explorer 9... let's just say that the soundproofed reinforced concrete cell has never seen so much use.

IE9 basically looks like the lovechild of Firefox and Chrome. The tabs are on top, but so is the address bar, which actually makes IE9 even more svelte than Chrome and Firefox -- but only by a few pixels. Purists might be a bit upset to find that there's no way to get tabs flush with the top of your screen -- so you can't just 'flick' your mouse to the top of the screen to select a tab -- but apparently that's a conscious decision by the User Experience team so that it's always easy to Aero Snap browser windows.

Incidentally, regarding the limited space for tabs: according to Microsoft, a massive majority of IE9 beta testers used no more than five tabs -- which we find hard to believe, but there you go! If you want more space for tabs, though, you either have the option of moving tabs to their own row (Right click the browser chrome > Show tabs on a separate row), or you can make the address bar narrower by dragging the divider between the tabs.

"One Bar" aka the OmnIEbar

Like Chrome, IE9 has an all-in-one search-and-address bar, dubbed the 'One Bar' and much to our surprise it's very nearly as good. It lacks Instant, but it makes up for it with a better interface and more configurability. You can add search engines from Mycroft, but like Firefox you still have to select the search engine before you use it -- Chrome's keyword method is so much easier.

Rather curiously, as you can see in the screenshot above, the One Bar also searches your recent document history. The only way to prevent this is to turn off 'Browsing History' autocomplete, which seems more than a little heavy-handed. This could be a bug -- or maybe the IE9 team is hoping that the One Bar will absorb the Start menu's all-in-one run box?

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