What’s new in Internet Explorer 9: faster, better, more competent

It’s finally here: Internet Explorer 9. Internet Explorer 9 is meant to revitalize Internet Explorer and maybe even turn some techies into IE users. Its web standards supports are exponentially better than previous versions, with much better CSS3 and HTML5 support than previous generations.  It was also the first browser to introduce hardware acceleration and the fastest at the Sunspider javascript test.

The new design: snazzy!

Of course, the first thing you’ll notice when starting up Internet Explorer 9 for the first time is that it looks… different. Just different. Gone are the lots of toolbars and too many buttons to count. In fact, Internet Explorer 9 is the one with the least browser chrome of the big three:

The way Internet Explorer manages to do this while maintaining large buttons is to put all the tools on one line:

(If you don’t like the small amount of space for the URL bar, you can simply drag the right side to make it bigger.)

Pinned Sites: integrate webapps with Windows

If you use Windows 7, you’ve surely come across jump lists.  These are the little boxes that pop up when you right click on a task bar item.  Microsoft has decided to take it one step further and not only allow you to pin sites as webapps, but to actually allow them to create items on their jump lists:

These lists can allow for quick task jumping and make it easier to access things you want.

The all-new Download Manager: minimal and useful

If you’ve been using Internet Explorer for all these years, another thing you’ve had to put up with the lack of a download manager. Luckily for you, Internet Explorer 9 comes with a download manager that actively informs you about the percentage done, the status, and the size of each download:

One unique feature of this new download manager is Microsoft’s SmartScreen technology which uses a URL blacklist to determine how safe a download is, and to show an appropriate warning. It also performs some basic scanning, like Firefox and Chrome.

Web standards support: code for one, publish for all

One of the most amazing parts about Internet Explorer 9 is that it’s actually fairly close to being compatible with most current web standards.  It still lacks things like form types and user interaction events, but Internet Explorer 9 is a leap towards actually working well with the rest of the world.

It’s fast(er).

Internet Explorer 9 has tried to resolve another major problem with Internet Explorer: it’s slow.  While Microsoft’s test sites are heavily biased, they’re still a good example of how much its javascript performance has improved. Here’s my average computer rendering a thousand fish in a virtual fish tank:

It’s more secure.

Internet Explorer has often borne the title of least secure browser due to its many security flaws and large numbers of exploits.  However, Microsoft has tried to get it better this time, and has introduced many new security features.  There is, for instance, the scanning now used when downloading files.  There are also several more technical aspects in Internet Explorer 9 that allow for less hacking and better security, including several techniques involving memory randomization.

Conclusion

Internet Explorer 9 is a huge step forward. From improving the interface to making it Not Suck™, Microsoft has shown some competency while producing Internet Explorer.  What are you waiting for? Update the world’s best Firefox downloader today!

Supported OS: Windows Vista/7Version reviewed: v9.0.8112.16421

Internet Explorer Download Page

Windows Vista: 32-bit download | 64-bit download

Windows 7: 32-bit download | 64-bit download

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61 comments

  1. Diane

    I updated to IE 9 and couldn’t stand it!! The toolbar was so different and missing buttons I normally use, like the REFRESH button! I couldn’t find it anywhere! So I restored my computer. Now it gives me error messgages saying I’m missing drivers and some other files are no longer working. It is forcing me to reinstall IE 9. Any suggestions from anyone??? HELP!!!

  2. Dan

    Google chrome used to be my fav until someone told me it contained viruses and the next time i scanned my pc, the anti-virus removed it……so for me….Firefox is the best, its fast, easy to use and i prefer the interface…..IE8 was better than IE9……don’t see how its faster than IE8, just different clothes oon the same person

  3. Jeff Linde

    That is BS I have been using Mozilla for years and never had an issue until I was forced to use IE specifically IE9 which is a wast od space and a major POS shoftware. I cannot believe anyone would want this.

  4. Otodeluxe

    You know two things i like about this new browser is that it support plugins and it also gives me what i want without beating about the bush, compared to the new firefox 4.0 browser which is a plain crazy slow.

  5. Don

    Earlier I asked about toolbars in IE9. I found them but they come in the most gawd awful locations and waste a lot of real estate. Can the TABS bar be move to the bottom row of toolbars? Why cant the command bar share the same line as the menu bar? Why is the favorites bar limited to the tabs bar or its own bar?

  6. Sunny

    Thanks for the insights into MS’s new browser. My computers run XP, Vista, Win7 respectively and of the three XP wins hands down for ease of use, speed of operations, convenience, and lack of a multitude of annoyances that dragged Vista down, and still echo in Win7, which I don’t like. In due course, when IE9′s defects have been fully ironed out I may trial it. At present, judging from feedback here and elsewhere I don’t care if it doesn’t work with XP, I wouldn’t want it as I’m very happy with a plethora of other browsers which offer me all I need and work very satisfactorily. Microsoft has always tended to cut off its nose to spite its face, and is still behaving true to form. Their loss not mine.

  7. Samuel

    @jumbi: When i said computer companies I ment that any other company, computer or not, does eventually stop support for a product. I used the computer industry because I’d like to know if Apple still makes software for the orginal OS X which is as old as XP….

    Do lots of companies still use XP? yes, I know that first hand…but that doesn’t make it a good idea for Micosoft, or any company at that, to make sure they’re software still runs on XP if they think it will impact perfomance and make their program less then it could be.

  8. jumbi

    @Samuel:

    (Of course XP is not bad, they have proven themselevs a thousand times over time).

    I am not talking about computer companies, I am talking about ALL kinds of companies, from large multinational to unlimited national companies of all commercial activities, have hundreds of old and new PCs with XP exclusively!
    Their admins know XP so well and have developed server-clients applications for XP that they are not willing to change and develop again (and pay again money + time) for windows 7. It just doesn’t worth it for a job they do already in XP and know every little detail to deal with.
    The last 5 years I have been selling PCs -among other products/services- to large and medium companies, both portable and desktops and believe it or not, they order machines with XP either preinstalled or separately. For notebooks, they always ask me to check for XP drivers beforehand, before they purchase! Hewlett Packard for example, still sells its business desktops PCs with XP CDs along with Win 7 and most of them have XP as the initial OS! And this happens simply because the companies-admins ask for XP. Many other brands have similar policy.

    Microsoft has announced officially two times to abandon XP and both times had to delay this decision.
    As we speak, they are commited to support XP till 2014.
    (my personal opinion is that they will postpone again for another 4-5 years till companies and public services change themselves to 7, thus it may very well become 2016 or 2018..). It would be silly to hold IE out of this market for such a long period, especially when FF 4 (launched in a few days on 22/Mar/2011) is compatible with XP :-)

  9. Samuel

    @Lucky: I’d be more willing to believe it still had the settings from the Beta.
    Their symptoms do sound like the ActiveX Filter is on, in fact I think I even said so previously I just also said I slightly doubt it because I think they’d know if they turned it on.

  10. Lucky

    @ Samuel – It appears that it depends on what your security setting were in IE8 prior to installing IE9. On my PC where I had stringent security settings, Active X filter was on by default. When I installed it on my wife’s PC that was using the standard security settings, Active X filter was not on. Or maybe it remembers how I had IE9 beta set up when I was testing it (even though I uninstalled it long before installing ie9 RC).
    In any event, the syptoms described by some of the commenters would indicate that Active X filter is on.

  11. Mags

    I for one will not be installing I.E. 9 for awhile yet.

    As some of you know I h8 I.E. with a passion! However, I still have versions of I.E. but only for testing purposes when developing sites. I’ll wait a few months and see what the general verdict is then before I think about installing it.

  12. lmg

    After installing Internet Exp 9 some of my desktop gadgets started flashing or flickering.Is this the leakage I heard some experts talking about.I think IE9 needs patches urgently,unless I am the only one experiencing this behaviour.My OS is Win7

  13. jumbi

    @Samuel:

    Do not underestimate XP.
    Most big companies still use them and not only for financial reasons.
    Thats why Microsoft still supports them officially.
    I believe, the IE9 experiment of not supporting them will be temporary as a test.

    To give you a most recent example:
    Last month the german foreign office decided to switch from Linux back to XP, after a decade!
    And this is no accident.

    Few linux mainly sites to read about this:
    http://linux.slashdot.org/story/11/02/22/0244242/German-Foreign-Office-Going-Back-To-Windows

    http://lxnews.org/2011/02/23/german-foreign-office-reverts-to-windows/

    http://www.linuxinsider.com/story/71983.html

    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_45/b3907083_mz054.htm

  14. Lucky

    It appears some of you are not turning Active X filtering off. By default, when you first visit a website, Active X filtering is on for security reasons. On the right side of the address bar there is an icon that looks like a circle with a line through it; left click on that to turn off Active X filtering. Now that web page will load properly with each visit.
    I tried every website and page that was mentioned in these comments and they all worked.
    Those of you that are dismissing IE9 because you can’t take the time to learn how to properly use it are going to miss a very good browser. I gave up Firefox for Chrome, and this IE9 might just replace Chrome as my default web browser.

  15. Mike from Markham

    @dr_kaushal: With thanks to VG, this worked for me:

    1. Open Control Panel and click on “Programs and Features”.

    2. Now click on “View installed updates” link given in left sidebar.

    3. You’ll see “Windows Internet Explorer 9″ update listed there. Select the update and click on “Uninstall” button in toolbar or right-click on the update and select “Uninstall” option.

    4. That’s it. It’ll require a restart. After restarting IE9 will be removed from your system.

  16. Mike from Markham

    @Samuel: Here is the link to the puzzle page I was trying to load : http://lifewise.canoe.ca/Puzzles/Add_Them_Up/home.php

    As for the Active-X filtering idea, I can’t tell you whether or not it was turned on because I’ve uninstalled IE9 and am not going to reinstall it just to check. However, I don’t recall going anywhere near that setting on the Tools menu. I can tell you that under IE8, my security settings for the Internet zone do allow for running ActiveX controls and plug-ins, and I know that same setting was carried forward into IE9 because it was one of the recommended settings for proper Gmail operation. Didn’t help though.

    Thanks again for trying to help. It’s entirely likely I accidentally screwed something up, but if not, maybe something here will be of use to others too.

  17. Samuel

    @Mike from Markham: The only thing left I can think of is that some how you got the ActiveX filtering feature turned on. If you want to give it a try again, you can check by looking to see if Tools>ActiveX Filtering is checked. I’ll forward this problem to MS, any chance you could give me the newspapers URL so MS and I can check against it?

  18. Mike from Markham

    @Samuel: Samuel: Thanks for your comments. In answer to your questions:

    1. The site that uses the Java plug-in is a newspaper site, specifically its puzzle page. It’s worked flawlessly for years through several versions of IE and Chrome and Firefox and Opera on all my computers, but not under IE9 on the notebook.

    2. I was accessing Gmail directly from the Gmail link on my google.ca home page.

    Furthermore, I can assure you that I did use the 32-bit version of IE9 on my netbook, not the 64-bit. I had the same thought but I double and triple-checked the installer before and after I ran it. That computer only runs Win7 Starter and is not used for much else besides browsing and email, so it has been adequate and entirely problem-free since I bought it. I have no idea why the IE9 problems arose, and frankly I’m not wasting my time trying to find out either.

  19. Samuel

    @Mike from Markham: To be blunt your problem makes no sense. My only questions, so I can try to help are:
    1) What site uses the Java plugin?
    2) When you say “retrieving” from gmail, do you mean going to mail.google.com (gmail.com) or something else?
    The only reasonable thing i can come up with for now is that for some reason when trying IE9 you were running the 64 bit version but being on a netbook I doubt the OS is even 64 bit.

  20. Mike from Markham

    Tried this on my netbook to see how it stacks up to Chrome, my usual browser choice. Installing IE9 (over IE8) was uneventful, and everything looked like it should when I started it up … and then things started going wrong. First visit was to a site that uses Java to deliver content I check regularly, but rather than seeing what I expected, all I got was a warning that Java was not installed or not enabled. A check of everything I can think of indicated otherwise and that the warning was in error. Next thing I tried was retrieving messages from Gmail, where I ran into a message saying that ActiveX controls were not enabled and Gmail could not operate properly. Again, a check of all relevant browser settings revealed that ActiveX settings were exactly as recommended by Gmail, and yet my mail still remained inaccessible. The happy ending to this story is that uninstalling IE9 was remarkably quick and pain-free and that my netbook is now purring contentedly with Chrome as my default browser and IE8 back and running as it was before. I will not be installing IE9 again on my netbook or my other 3 computers any time soon.

  21. BeachSandGuy

    After using it i have serious issues with compatibility. Particularly I use igoogle for my home page and the widgets don’t work. For example, Top Stories for NY Times doesn’t populate, my rss feed to dottech.org doesn’t even work! Just a blank bar. Unless someone has a good suggestion (I am guessing something to do with javascript), I’ll stick with chrome or firefox.

  22. Samuel

    @Don: It is in fact more secure, for some reason Locutus just doesn’t mention them:
    1) It will block you from downloading known Malware, and warn you about suspicus files.
    2) It allows you to block tracking sites from tracking you by simply rejecting the requestest (unlike FF which just asks them to not track)
    There are others but they’re a bit more technical. The point of them is to make it harder to crack the broswer.

    @roger-u and @jabtano: While MS’s decition to not make IE9 for XP may not be the greatest desistion please let me know when another computer company still supports it’s almost decade old OS? The fact that they even still realise patches for XP is more then we should expect of them.

    @Jim Cook: Take a look at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ieinternals/archive/2011/02/17/ie9-benchmark-tests-and-gpu-fallback-to-software-rendering-mode.aspx

  23. Unicorn02

    Right clicking on the very top area of the IE9 Window (yes, this mostly blank useless area) reveals a menu where you can adjust most of the looks and menus you want to see in IE9. Here you can customize it to you liking and make it look like IE7 or IE8 or show your favorite links permanently etc.

  24. Don

    @Jim Cook:

    I tried a late beta version for about 2 *minutes* before uninstalling it. Could not find a way to display the toolbars I like and want visible. If those become optional I will try it again.

    When I need more real estate in my browser window I simply hide all my IE8 toolbars and get the same basic effect as installing IE9 (I do not use any third party toolbars).

    Don

  25. meldasue

    I *like* my menus and buttons and especially my links bar. Make me click more times/navigate endless unfolding menus (that fold back if I move my mouse the wrong way) to gain a couple centimetres of screen space? Sorry, not seeing the value here.

  26. jabtano

    On this rig i’m xp on my laptops i’m win7 it’s ok i’ve been playing with it all morning it’s not that bad much better than 8. but not being able to use it on this rig, well. my thought is i’m still with the fox.

  27. Unicorn02

    Putting all control elements in just one bar might save some space. But just having a relatively short URL-Bar ist not very convenient when viewing long URLs. Maybe it expands when you mouse-over it.. hmm. I simply don’t like it. Have to check it out later this day.
    Still Chrome FTW!

  28. Samuel

    How could I have missed reporting this!!!!!!! At least I got the first post about IE9…maybe I’ll do a tech version actually going more in depth on the differences…

    @Jyo: That’s actually a complaint a lot o people have, I personally don’t mind it but that’s just me.