IE9 Beta Scorches to 2 Million Downloads in 48 Hours

Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser still claims the lion's share of the browser market, but let's be honest here, it's been so long since IE led the pack in terms of features and performance that Microsoft has forgotten what it's like for users to be genuinely excited about a browser release that doesn't belong to Mozilla, Google, or any of the other competition. Hence the feeling of euphoria emanating from Redmond over the initial interest in Internet Explorer 9 Beta.

"The initial reaction has been pretty overwhelming, and we are very humbled by the response our customers have had," Microsoft announced in a blog post. "In the first two days, over 2 million people worldwide downloaded IE9 Beta. By comparison, when Internet Explorer 8 Beta launched in August 2008, we had 1.3 million downloads over the first five days."

In case Microsoft is having trouble figuring out why exactly that is, we'll tell them. It's because unlike IE8 and versions before it, Internet Explorer for the first time in a very long time is breaking new ground rather than simply trying to catch up with the other guys' browsers. The big feature here is hardware acceleration, and if you want it, IE9 Beta is the only place you'll get it and Firefox 4 Beta (5 and up) are the only places you can get it. IE9 taps into your GPU to handle graphics-heavy tasks like video streaming and online gaming, and is a cool feature to have as the Web 2.0 experience continues to evolve.

"All in all, we are encouraged about the very early response to the IE9 release this past week, namely because it signals that the emphasis on making websites shine through Windows is resonating," Microsoft added.

It also signals what can happen when you don't rest on your laurels -- as was the case with IE6, which wasn't replaced by IE7 until five years after its release -- and take the browser game seriously.