Aug 14, 2010

Microsoft Sets Sept. 15 Date for IE9 Beta Launch

On Thursday afternoon, Microsoft sent out invitations to the launch of Internet Explorer 9 beta on Sept. 15, in San Francisco. The invitation to the event, dubbed "Beauty of the Web," included an HTML5 invitation site with an animated word game taking advantage of that emerging set of Web standards.

Microsoft had previously disclosed that it would release an IE9 beta in September.
Since March, the software giant has released four "platform previews," which lacked a true user interface with conveniences like bookmarks, search, and history. And just last week, the fourth preview was released, with the accompanying blog post by Internet Explorer General Manager Dean Hachamovitch noting that it would be the last platform preview before the beta phase. He also noted that the previews had been downloaded 2.5 million times, and the accompanying test site of demos had received over 20 million visits.

It's expected that the September beta will be our first look at a new interface, about which Microsoft has been very tight-lipped. But speculation about a Chrome-like "tabs-on-top" look or incorporation of an Office-like ribbon toolbar has kept Web software pundits busy. Another idea being tossed around is that the user interface will resemble the Zune/Windows Phone 7 "Metro" look.

The Microsoft team working on IE9 has focuses on two objectives: speed and standards support. For speed the browser takes advantage of graphics hardware acceleration using the version of DirectX present in Vista and Windows 7, so XP users won't be able to take advantage of the new faster browser.

Compliance with upcoming web standards means support for HTML5, SVG, and CSS3. With the fourth platform preview, it seems Microsoft has got the internal workings pretty much nailed down, having integrated its new Chakra JavaScript engine directly into the browser code rather than as a separate script engine accessed via COM (Component Object Model) Internet Explorer General Manager Dean Hachamovitch claims that this approach "significantly improves performance for real world websites." will be at the launch, so look for up to the minute coverage and testing at the time of launch. In the meantime, you can check out the fourth platform preview at Microsoft hasn't given any indication of the date of IE9's final launch, but many expect it to be during the company's Mix web developer conference next April.