Microsoft has officially launched the first public beta of Internet Explorer 9, and there are some pretty impressive features - though nothing particularly surprising - awaiting eager testers.
Announced on the official IE Developer Blog
yesterday, Internet Explorer Public Beta 1 adds a raft of new features to Microsoft's default browser - including graphics acceleration, which is enabled by default to deliver a speedier experience.
The user interface has been overhauled too, with a pinning mechanic added, similar to the one used for applications in Windows 7, which allows sites to be pinned to the task bar. Interestingly, Microsoft appears to have taken a leaf out of Google Chrome's book and added functionality for sites to launch OS-embedded alerts when they're pinned to the taskbar, bringing your attention to them without stealing focus.
With an overhauled interface, the team behind IE9 claims that a lightweight look means that the user's attention is directed at the page rather than the browser, providing a much smoother experience of the Web.
Fans of the Aero Snap feature of Windows 7, which allows windows to be dragged to certain areas to be automatically resized to exactly fill half the screen, will be pleased to hear that the same functionality has been added to Internet Explorer - only rather than affecting entire windows, it affects tabs, and allows users to easily see two tabs side by side.
Windows users can download the beta from the not at all pretentious BeautyOfTheWeb.com
site. Once it's installed, Microsoft hosts a test drive
to walk you through the new features and have a play with HTML 5.
Will you be installing the new beta, or will you wait for others to iron out the inevitable bugs before upgrading? Is this too little, too late from Microsoft to tempt you back from your alternative browser? Share your thoughts over in the forums