Microsoft has promised ‘a more beautiful web’ from 14 March in the US (time differences mean it will be 15 March in the UK), with the release of the latest version of its Windows Internet Explorer web browser and it claims to have speeded things up, too.
It’s very much a case of ‘less is more’ with this latest iteration, Internet Explorer 9 (IE9). Fewer toolbar options mean there’s more room for viewing web pages which, after all, is the main reason for using a browser in the first place. Microsoft has cleaned up the look of the browser by moving commands bar functions like print and zoom into other menus (in most cases they’ve gone into the Tools menu).
IE9 boasts some new – and rather useful – features, which may even appeal to those remaining users of Internet Explorer 6 that Microsoft is so keen to wean off the older browser. If you’re still running Windows XP you’ll be disappointed though, as IE9 doesn’t support it.
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The computer giant aims to unlock more of the available processing power of your computer to speed up the browsing experience, too. While many of the new features can also be found in Google’s latest version of its Chrome browser (and some in Firefox), IE9 is already proving popular. Downloads of the testing (beta) version of the browser have topped 25 million. Key features include:
Better tabbed browsing
Now that we’re all more or less familiar with the concept of tabbed browsing (having different web pages open at the same time under different ‘tabs’ in the browser), Microsoft has taken things a step further with the Enhanced Tabs feature. This lets you look at two web pages (open in different tabs) side by side in the same window.
Just as you can place an icon of your favourite programs on your desktop’s taskbar for speed of access, so you can now do the same for your favourite websites with IE9. It sounds like quite an easy process, too: just click on the website’s icon in the address bar and drag it down to the taskbar. Then, when you want to go to the site, you’ll just need to click on the icon.
This feature is already available on other browsers like Firefox, but IE9 looks to make things a little clearer. The Download Manager gives you greater control over the files you download from the web. You can pause and re-start the download and keep a track of what you’ve downloaded. Microsoft claims that Download Manager will also warn you about potentially malicious downloads.
New tab page
The new tab page sets out all your most visited sites on a single page so that you can get to them more quickly. Microsoft has beefed this up with colour coding and increased customisation. So, if you don’t want a particular site to appear, you can delete it.
Address bar search
Users of other browsers will be familiar with this one, too. IE9 lets you search directly from the address bar rather than having to open up a separate search engine page. It makes suggestions as you type, too.
A feature designed to give you control over who can access your browsing data, tracking protection lets you specify, via tracking lists, which third parties are allowed to receive information about you that can track you online.
For early birds, the final version of IE9 will be available to download from Microsoft from 5am UK time on 15 March.
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