15 Mar 2011

IE9 released today: Here’s a starter guide

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Microsoft will be releasing the final version of IE9 today at 9 pm PST. Excited? maybe, I still have reservations about the IE experience and just generally how much of a ball ache it is to optimise websites for. However so far the news results and tests have been somewhat promising we can only hold our breathe. In the meantime here is a starter guide for IE9 ripped off from some other tech site. Thought it might be useful. I haven’t had a chance to properly test IE9 other than the RC version, mainly because i’ve recently moved house and have been without the internet for a few weeks, but as soon as I can I’ll be giving it a download and checking it out, especially html5 :)

What is it?

IE9 is Microsoft’s latest web browser. IE9 has been released first on March 17, 2010 as a platform preview and has been released in seven platform previews, one beta and one release candidate version. It is based on the core platform as the preceding IE8, but is faster and more secure. It is the ninth major version of IE Microsoft has released since IE1, which was introduced in August of 1995.

What are the key improvements over IE8?

IE9 has a new DOM 2/3 and JavaScript engine (“Chakra”) that supports multi-threading and significantly increases the performance of the browser in most websites, IE9 boots faster than IE8 and supports hardware/GPU acceleration. Microsoft claims that it is the only browser that supports “full” hardware acceleration, while others such as Mozilla claim that is untrue. Our benchmarks concluded that IE9 has currently the most advanced graphics acceleration engine at this time. IE9 now also supports key elements of HTML5/CSS3, adds more security features such as tracking protection and the SmartScreen download filter, isolates website crashes to tabs, combines the URL and search bar into element, supports site pinning and jump lists for websites, includes a tab overview page as well as a streamlined interface that currently provides websites with the most content real estate. IE9 is also Microsoft’s first browser that can update itself, if you allow it.

So, how fast is it?

Check out our review of the IE9 RC and Firefox 4 RC here.

Who should download it?

It’s a no-brainer for home-users who currently use IE8 as their main browser. The minimum system requirements are Windows Vista SP2 or higher (which would include Windows 7). The Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 is not a system requirement for IE9. If your PC runs Vista or Windows 7, you can assume that your PC will run IE9 as well. Keep in mind that IE9 will perform better with more CPU cores as well as more capable graphics cards. It’s a good idea to update your graphics driver and keep it updated to avoid performance problems. Remember that IE9 is not offered for Windows XP

I use Firefox/Chrome/Safari/Opera. Should I still download IE9?

That depends if you are tolerant enough to use IE9 as well or if you are allowed to use IE9 in a business environment. IE9 has some clear advantages over its rivals, IE remains a great browser for Flash content and it is undoubtedly a powerful HTML5 browser. That said, it is always a good idea to have a choice of browsers available – IE9, for example, is the easiest to live with if you want to display TIFF images in a browser window. Also, IE9 is the first IE browser we recommend since IE6. However, Chrome and Firefox may be faster in certain JavaScript scenarios.

Where can I get it?

Microsoft will offer IE9 through beautyoftheweb.com or the Windows Update feature. It is available as 32-bit or 64-bit version, depending on your Windows version.
I can’t upgrade IE8 to IE9. The update stalls on my PC.

We noticed several IE9 upgrade hiccups and are still unable to update IE8 on one of our Windows 7 test systems as well as on a PC with Vista SP2. Our upgrade success rate was only 50%. There is no information whether the final version of IE9 will be smoother to install than the Beta and RC, but keep in mind that there are pre-requisites you will need to take care of (this update is required in any case), if the browser fails to install or you notice the download/installation to get stuck (however, Microsoft says that the updates should be installed automatically.)

Does IE9 replace my IE8/IE7 on my PC?

Yes.

Can I run more IE versions on my PC?

Web developers may want to run IE8 or IE7 next to IE9 on their PC. Microsoft does not allow multiple IE versions to run side-by-side by default, but enables such a feature through desktop virtualization, called Enterprise Desktop Virtualization, or short MED-V. Web developers can also run previous browsers in virtual machine instances.
I use applications that are designed to run with a previous version of IE.

Do I need to retest my applications on IE9?

Microsoft says “not necessarily” as IE9 offers a high compatibility with IE8. There’s also a compatibility view mode with IE8 and IE7. Developers can use the F12 function and test the display changes in IE7, IE8, IE9 and IE9 Compatibility view modes. There is no compatibility view mode for IE6 and there is a chance that apps that were standardized for IE6 will break in IE9. Testing your apps in IE9 is a good idea!

Admins should also note that IE9 has new group policy settings – there are now about 1500 settings options. Microsoft is providing an Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK) for IE9 as it did for previous versions. A technical overview of IE9 is published here.

I have installed IE9. Where are those fancy HTML5 apps to try?

Microsoft has a collection of HTML5 apps here. Mozilla’s demos are also worth a visit. Of course, Google has a showcase as well.

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Hey, i'm Chris Newnham thanks for reading my blog, it's great to meet you at last...your time spent here is valuable to me and i'd really appreciate it if you left a comment or two...P.S. you look fab!