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Web browsers: IE9 review

Microsoft launched Internet explorer 9 packed with a host of functionalities and features. The web browser has a new layout, task bar short cuts, site-specific jump lists, unified address and search bar among other features that make it surprisingly impressive across the board. While IE9 is competitive across the board, we examine it closely to determine whether it is worth the hype.

Interface

The Internet explorer 9 interface has undergone many changes. It minimises the browser layout in order to maximise the screen space. Different from the approach competing browsers take, IE9 places tabs above the location bar by default. You can, however, switch the tabs’ positioning from an included context menu. Choose 'Show Tabs on a Separate Row' option from the context menu to move the tabs below the location bar instead of above like Firefox 4, Chrome and Opera have them.

Features

IE9 is crammed with many new features and has redesigned old ones. While the new and redesigned features are impressive in all counts, Microsoft is basically playing catch-up with competing browsers. Many of its features like Tear-off tabs that allow you to drag a tab out of its current window and create a new browser window are a welcome addition, but are standard in most other browsers.

A unique feature that impresses a lot in IE9 is the natural-fitting Windows 7 integration. In IE9 web browser, you can easily pin particular websites to your Windows 7 desktop task bar. Simply click and hold on a tab and drag it to the task bar. The website’s favicon becomes the icon of the pinned site. Moreover, IE9 has added a new downloads manager that lets you restart, pause and cancel downloads.

Support

Internet Explorer 9 has support only for Windows 7 and Windows Vista. Windows XP users are stuck on IE8. Support for the HTML5 tags < audio >, < video > and < canvas > has been enhanced, not to mention support for ECMA Script 5, CSS3 and DOM have received a lot of love in IE9. This has allowed the browser to make great strides in the direction of standards compliance, which it has struggled with in previous IE versions.

Overall assessment

Overall, Internet Explorer is the best version of the Microsoft browser. It is a shame that legacy Windows XP users are stuck with IE8 as the giant software company has not found a way to extend IE9 support for XP users. That being said, IE9 is fast and highly usable with its minimalist layout and innovative features. This might not be enough to win over die-hard fans of other browsers, but it does make IE9 a more attractive option and formidable competitor in the browser market.

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