Home' LAPTOP Magazine : December 2010 Contents Internet Explorer 9 Beta
Microsoft's revamped browser is fast, chock-full of helpful features,
and designed to let you see more of the web.
For years now, Microsoft's Internet
Explorer has been the Big Mac of
web browsers, a ubiquitous mass
market product that comes preinstalled on all
Windows PCs, but is studiously avoided by anyone
who knows about the many faster, lighter-weight
alternatives. But with Chrome, Firefox, and Safari
grabbing market share, Microsoft knew it needed
to make a big splash to win over not only main-
stream consumers, but also developers and early
adopters. Internet Explorer 9 is more like a tidal
wave than a splash, offering the best combina-
tion of performance and functionality of any web
browser on the market today.
IE 9 Beta is available as a free
download for Windows 7 and Vista
users from www.beautyoftheweb
.com. The company has no plans to
release a Windows XP version.
Where the old Internet Explorer
8 interface was loaded with screen-
robbing toolbars and buttons, IE
9 is now the most space-efficient
mainstream browser for Windows.
With only 60 pixels between the top
of the window and the beginning of
the content area---and no persistent
status bar taking up space on the
bottom of its window---IE 9 shows
two more lines of text than Firefox 4,
about a line more than Safari, and
about the same amount of text as
Chrome when both are maximized.
Considering that the typical notebook
has only 768 vertical pixels of screen
real estate and the typical netbook has
only 600, even two lines of additional
text can make a huge difference in
your web surfing experience.
Like Chrome, IE 9 lets you tear
tabs away from the browser and
place them into their own windows.
You can also dock windows as tabs in
an existing window. However, unlike
Chrome, which pauses any playing
videos or other activities when you
drag a tab, IE 9 keeps the browser
completely active even while it's
moving around the desktop. Each
tab is a separate process, so if one
tab crashes, the rest of the tabs can
continue. You can also drag tabs onto
the Windows 7 start menu or taskbar
to pin them for easy access.
Internet Explorer 9 lets users pin sites to their
taskbar or start menu so the shortcuts are always
available. Developers can take advantage of this
pinning feature by adding custom items to the
jumplists of users who pinned their sites. For
example, if you pin Twitter.com to your taskbar
and then right-click on the icon, you get a list of
shortcuts to possible tasks, from creating a new
tweet to finding mentions.
All the optional toolbars and plug-ins you install
eat up memory and slow down the load time of
your pages. But in IE 9, you can see a complete list
of all add-ons you have installed and how much
time, in milliseconds, each is adding to your load
time. Then you can disable those add-ons that
slow your system performance.
IE 9 puts Microsoft among the speed leaders
both for page rendering and application open
times. To improve rendering in its new browser,
Microsoft developed a new script engine code-
named Chakra. However, only the 32-bit version
of IE 9 has the new Chakra engine. So if you have
64-bit Windows on your PC, skip the 64-bit version
of the browser.
rendering benchmark, Internet Explorer 9 (32-bit)
was faster than every browser except
Chrome 6 beta, which it trailed by
less than 100 milliseconds.
IE 9 is one of the first browsers
to harness the power of the graphics
processor for hardware-accelerated
animations, video, and image render-
ing. If your system supports hardware
acceleration, you will see significantly
improved frame rates in browser-based
Using an ASUS G732jW with Nvidia
GTX460M graphics, IE 9 completed
the Speed Reading Demo in a mere
8 seconds, with a rate of 60 frames
per second. Unfortunately, not every
graphics card is compatible. According
to Microsoft, a number of older and
lower-end graphics cards are currently
incompatible with IE 9's hardware
rendering engine. However, some
notebooks could gain hardware ac-
celeration capability through updated
When it comes to loading popular
websites, IE 9 is stellar competition
to other browsers, though Chrome 6
edged it on some pages and Firefox
was faster on others.
IE 9 supports all the latest web
standards, including CSS3, DOM
Levels 2 and 3, HTML 5, ICC Color
Profiles, Scalable Vector Graphics,
and Web Open Font Format for adding
additional fonts to the page. If you're
not a web developer, the nature of
these technologies will mean less to
you than the features they enable.
HTML 5 enables embedding audio
and video without plug-ins such as
Flash. It also allows for offline data
The new pinning feature of IE 9 provides quick access to various tasks, making
websites more like apps.
IE 9 lets you disable add-ons to speed up performance.
LAPTOP | December 2010
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