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My Top 5 Features of Internet Explorer 9

With this update, now in beta, Microsoft is trying to clean up IE's image by adding functionality and enhancements, including a download manager (finally).


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As far as an Internet browser is concerned, Microsoft hasn’t been top dog for years. With Internet Explorer 9, now in beta, Microsoft is trying to clean up Internet Explorer’s image by adding functionality and enhancements that bring it up to par with the latest browsers. Let’s take a look at my top 5 features of Internet Explorer 9 .

1. Performance and Speed

What good is a browser without speed? IE 9 takes advantage of a new hardware acceleration feature within itself. Complex task are passed off to a graphics processor and its new JavaScript engine is called Chakra. Chakra is a Sanskrit word that means wheel or turning. Chakra uses your computers extra processing cores to execute scripts. Multimedia on IE9 can run natively without the need for add-ons such as Adobe Flash or Silverlight.

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2. Design

Microsoft slimmed down the design of IE and it is strikingly similar to Google Chrome. The browser will open to popular sites as Chrome does and you can perform a search in the address bar. Additionally, they redesigned the Tab page and it displays the sites you revisit and color codes them so they stand out.  A Site indicator bar also displays how often you visit each site and is customizable. Similar to Chrome, you can move tabs in and out of the IE Window and perform side by side viewing. Finally, a notification bar and Add-on performance advisor is available to provide you information while you are browsing and show you add-ons that are performing poorly, respectively.

3. Taskbar Pinning

IE 9 intertwines with your operating system. You have the ability to pin a website to your taskbar. Instead of using Favorites or Bookmarks, you can pin web sites to the taskbar for easy access. This is a feature I really enjoy and it will be a welcomed addition to IE 9.

4. Standards Compliance

Microsoft is moving out of the lonely step child to standards compliance as it seeks compliance for HTML5 and CSS 3.0. Web developers will be elated over this I am sure.

5. Download Manager

Finally, a download manager. Should I say more? Firefox and Chrome have one and I often wondered what Microsoft was thinking. IE 9 shows you what you have downloaded in addition to the progress of a download. An added bonus is a SmartScreen filter that alerts you of potential security issues within the browser as opposed to a pop-up. While other browsers have had download managers for years, this made my list just out of pure elation that, after constant badgering and requests from the public, it finally made it into a release.

Internet Explorer 9 is still in beta, but it warrants a look. Initially, I felt IE 9 was playing catch-up with competing browsers. Many features IE 9 is adding already exist in competing browsers and bravo for becoming competitive again with IE 9. While IE 9 improves on itself, I am not sure it warrants switching browsers. There is nothing earth shattering in IE 9 that warrants me to stop using my browser of choice. 

A big drawback for IE 9 is add-on support.  Advanced users of competing browsers will not switch if the add-on support is not up to par. Chrome and Firefox have a significant lead in this area.  A Chrome or Firefox user with a customized browser with all of their add-ons will be less likely to switch unless all add-ons are available for IE 9 as well.

Reputation is Microsoft’s biggest hurdle with Internet Explorer. Whether it is true or not, the reputation for Microsoft is that its browser is slow, buggy and insecure. This reputation developed over years and years and will be hard to shake. It doesn’t matter how untrue it is, most people’s first reaction to Internet Explorer is that it is not as secure as a Firefox or Chrome. Apple’s very successful Get a Mac campaign added fuel to this fire. Microsoft needs to overcome this reputation by putting out good software and over time consumer and business minds may redefine Internet Explorer.



   
Steven S. Warren is a writer in Florida. He is the author of The VMware Workstation 5 Handbook and held the Microsoft MVP award for 8 consecutive years. You can find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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