Microsoft Releases IE9 Beta; Do We Yawn or Pay Attention?

Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled its Internet Explorer 9 public beta to the world. However, with Internet Explorer market share continuing to drop, and drop, while Chrome and Firefox make major inroads the question is: do we care?

As an end user, in the past, we really wouldn't care about an IE release. We moved first for Firefox, and as it became more bloated and unstable, and as Chrome extensions appeared, on to Chrome. Are things any different this time, and should end users care about IE9?

Microsoft's latest browsers have been more standards compliant, and that includes IE9, which fully embraces HTML5. Microsoft's latest browser iterations have trailed in terms of speed, and although Microsoft claims that IE9 has better JavaScript performance than previous versions, it's still slower than Chrome, at least according to these benchmarks. However, it's clear that Microsoft has finally made enough improvements in speed to make it a reasonable option: you're not going to feel like a snail compared to Chrome and Firefox, and in fact IE9 surpassed Firefox in some of the benchmarks. In fact, Microsoft is quick to point out that IE9 can even use your graphics card to handle page rendering and animation.

Your mileage, of course, will vary.

What does IE9 offer besides speed? Here are the new features:

Pinned Sites: you can drag sites to the Windows Taskbar and pin them there.

One Box: This feature combines the address bar and search box into a single edit control. Seriously, it's something Chrome has had since inception, and sadly the default search engine is Bing. That means that most folks will be forced to take an extra step (come on, you know it as well as we do) and switch to Google, but oh, well. You can also install Wikipedia, Amazon, Facebook and others through the Add-On page.

Additional Tab functionality: Just as with Chrome, you can now shut down a misbehaving tab separate from the rest of IE9. Tabs can easily be detached now, and when you do so, you don't lose your place --- content, even YouTube continue to render.

Download manager: We'll just add the word "Finally" here and leave it at that. Firefox, Safari, Chrome, they all had some sort of this type of functionality, so it's been long awaited.

IE9 looks to be a very good browser, or at least, it's shaping up that way. For the first time in a few version, it may in fact be a decent challenger to Firefox and Chrome. However, remember that IE 9 Beta is just that, still a beta. You may encounter bugs, so keep that in mind if you decide to try it.

Where to download? Come right here.