Internet Explorer 9 release today

Feb 11th, 2011 | Category: Computers

After seven platform preview builds and a beta that has been downloaded 25 million times, generating a mountain of user feedback, Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) is ready to unleash a more beautiful Web.

Microsoft unveiled the Internet Explorer 9 Release Candidate (RC) today during a launch event in San Francisco. After months of beta testing, the feature complete Release Candidate is available for download at Beauty of the Web. The company is now focused on encouraging developers to build new websites and user experiences on IE9, said Ziad Ismail, Internet Explorer’s director of product management.

Since the first IE9 developer platform preview was introduced in March 2010, Microsoft has established the key themes of its revamped browser: improved performance driven by hardware acceleration, a deep commitment to HTML5 and standards, a minimal user interface that puts the focus on the websites instead of the browser, and built-in privacy and security features.

“The release candidate is a major milestone that signals it’s time for developers to start taking advantage of IE9’s features,” Ismail said. “Our focus with IE9 has been on creating the platform for the next class of Web experiences built around HTML5 and tapping into the power of the whole PC.”

Tracking Protection Lists, a new feature in the IE9 Release Candidate, function much like the “Do Not Call” telephone registry and enable people to control how their information is shared.
Tracking Protection Lists, a new feature in the IE9 Release Candidate, function much like the “Do Not Call” telephone registry and enable people to control how their information is shared.
Click for larger image.

The IE9 RC introduces several features that build on those themes and on extensive feedback from users. These include smaller changes like being able to close a tab without making it active – a small addition that users really care about, Ismail said.

But there are also bigger changes. IE9 has made improvements to Pinned Sites, which enables users to take their favorite sites and place them directly on the Windows 7 Taskbar like any other application. “A pinned site is more than just a shortcut,” Ismail said. “We have already seen sites use this to create experiences that are always visible to the user and pull the users back into the experience with notifications as important things happen.”

hi5, a popular gaming and social entertainment site, used IE9’s Pinned Site feature to take social gaming out of the browser and into the PC. When friends send messages or something happens in their games, users receive a notification on the task bar and can jump back into the game.

Ziad Ismail, director of product management for Internet Explorer.
Ziad Ismail, director of product management for Internet Explorer.
Click for larger image.

“With a few lines of JavaScript and Pinned Site APIs, we made hi5 and Millionaire City feel like native apps,” said John Szeder, director of Developer Relations and Mobile at hi5. “It’s a great way to bring our users back into the game.”

LIVESTRONG.com also takes advantage of IE9’s Pinned Site feature. LIVESTRONG.com helps people achieve daily goals around healthy living, and the new experience keeps users engaged in real time and offers prompts and tips throughout the day. “IE9 ultimately needs to translate into a better user experience and better results for websites. On LIVESTRONG.com, IE9 users now spend 53 percent more time on the site than other browsers,” Ismail said.

Another new feature in the Release Candidate is Tracking Protection, which gives users better control over how their information is shared across sites. Some content on websites can be used to track activity as people browse the Web. Tracking protection in Internet Explorer 9 allows users to limit the browser’s communication with certain websites to help keep information private. This feature relies on Tracking Protection Lists that enable users to control how their information is shared, Ismail said. Users can install Tracking Protection Lists from the organizations they trust, which today include companies like Abine, PrivacyChoice, TRUSTe, and EasyList.

The RC also expands support for Web standards and HTML5 and addresses a developer community request to add geolocation capabilities to the browser, effectively enabling websites to understand where a user is located and deliver a more relevant experience, Ismail said.

Ismail said that users who download the IE9 RC will find a rapidly growing ecosystem of sites that are tapping into HTML5 and taking advantage of features such as site pinning. Some of those sites are showcased at Beauty of the Web, pointing the way forward for browsing and the Web.

“A better browsing experience combined with better sites really starts to deliver on the promise of what we set out to do with IE9, which is to deliver a more beautiful Web for users,” he said.

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