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Nine things to know about Internet Explorer 9

Microsoft this week launched a new version of its Internet Explorer browser, allowing PC users to surf the web faster.

Designed to “celebrate a more beautiful, immersive web”, IE9 was revealed at the SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) event in America, a gathering of the world’s best geeks discussing the future of online, mobile and apps.

During testing, Internet Explorer 9 became Microsoft’s most-downloaded browser beta of all-time; with more than 40 million downloads. That has already gained it more than 2% usage on Windows 7.

Dean Hachamovitch, corporate vice president, Windows Internet Explorer, said: “The best experience of the web is on Windows with Internet Explorer 9.

“Today, the web can unlock the power and performance of the best PC hardware through Windows and Internet Explorer 9. Websites can also act more like applications within Windows 7.”

What’s New?

So what’s different about IE9 compared to IE8 and those that came before it. Here’s our quick guide to the best bits.

Windows Only

Internet Explorer 9 is only available for computers running Windows 7 or the previous Microsoft operating system, Windows Vista. It has a much cleaner look, with less taskbars and buttons to make a simplified surfing experience. Microsoft say they want to focus on the website, not the browser. A new streamlined notification bar prevents cluttered interruptions.

Quickly Open Sites

Features such as Pinned Sites and JumpList enable people to put their most-used websites directly on the Windows 7 Taskbar by dragging the URL. So just like computer software applications, you can quickly and easily get into those sites to check your inbox, view social networks or see breaking news.

Faster Performance

IE9 takes advantage of the latest powerful Windows PC hardware to improve surfing performance. It is the only browser with fully hardware-accelerated HTML5, a new web language that helps pages load quicker. It also uses the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) better, unlocking 90% of the power that previously went untapped to create smoother visuals and better colours. But despite this, it still drains less battery life on laptops than before.

More Private and Secure

Better privacy and security controls have been built-in to battle with the increasing threats of the web to keep you safe online. Tracking Protection allows users to be in control of the data they share while surfing. You can set which websites you don’t want to collect your information and ensure others are able to. You can simply select sites to block by downloading a series of lists provided by security experts.

Simplified Downloads

IE9’s Download Manager now has integrated malware protection with a SmartScreen that knows the reputation of downloads so you don’t get needless warning messages popping up for common files, that you know are safe. You can also pause less important downloads to concentrate on those you want quicker, when you have groups of files being downloaded.

One Box Navigation

In IE9, the URL line also acts as the search query box alongside the navigation. The One Box theory is designed to make surfing quicker and you can still select your search provider from a list including Bing and Google. Autocomplete will fill in web addresses for you but you can also find sites by typing in categories such as “news” or “music”.

Top Sites Use It

250 top sites from around the world are now optimising themselves for IE9 in partnership with Microsoft. These include Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and blogging network WordPress. In the UK, IE9 launch sites include Sky, Film4oD, ESPN, Gorillaz, MSN, Never Mind The Bullets and Rough Guides.

More Tabs and Layouts

A new Tab page in IE9 shows all the websites you visit most to put them just a click away from viewing. Each site has its own icon on the page and you can also reopen closed tabs, reopen the last browser session, clear the site indicators or start InPrivate® Browsing from the Tab page. You can also now add a second row of tabs to the browser, while the new Windows Aero Snap allows you to place two sites or web pages side-by-side to compare or to watch video for example, while checking email.

Back to Basics

Finally, you might not realise but the back button is the most-used browser control. In Internet Explorer 9 it is now larger and is placed in the top-left corner of the window to make it easy to find.

The Final Word

Ryan Gavin, senior director, Windows Internet Explorer, added: “What people care about on the web is their sites, not their browser. That’s why Internet Explorer 9 is about making those sites shine. The browser is the theatre and the sites people visit are the play, and that is what Internet Explorer 9 makes better – your favourite sites.”

To find out more about Internet Explorer 9, see