If you’ve been curious about Internet Explorer 9 but didn’t want to mess around with earlier beta versions, now’s a good time to check it out.
The IE9 release candidate is essentially the full version of Microsoft’s new web browser. Bugs may be squashed between now and whenever Microsoft releases the final version, but all the features of IE9 are intact. (Over at ZDNet, Ed Bott has the definitive walkthrough.) You can get the release candidate from Microsoft’s “Beauty of the Web” promotional site.
In general, I agree with Harry’s assessment that IE9 is Microsoft’s most refreshing web browser yet, even if that means looking a bit like other browsers. Although I haven’t done any fancy speed tests, I can’t think of any major reasons not to recommend IE9.
Except for one thing: A few months after Microsoft released the IE9 public beta, Google launched the Chrome Web Store, a marketplace for extensions and Chrome-optimized web apps. It’s the most significant new browser feature I’ve seen in years, in that it encourages users to customize their browsers and seek out new web-based services. Now that TweetDeck and Imo have become part of my pinned tab line-up, I can’t imagine using a browser without them.
Microsoft has embraced web apps somewhat in IE9 with the ability to pin websites to the Windows 7 taskbar, but once you’re in the browser, there’s no built-in discovery tool for useful web services, nor is there a home page from which to quickly launch them. Also, Internet Explorer’s extension library is overpopulated with feed readers and toolbars, and some of them won’t even work with IE9.
In a way, Internet Explorer is now more minimalist than Chrome, a browser that desperately wants to show you all the great things the Web has to offer. Who’d have thought it?