Microsoft’s efforts on the Internet browsing field have been traditionally irregular. There’s no Internet Explorer that haven’t had some kind of problem or major bug and its latest editions have been overperformed by more recent web browsers. So, when Internet Explorer 9 was announced almost a year and a half ago, many of us weren’t impressed. We all knew that one of Microsoft’s flagship products would have to come a long way to match its competitors but now, in the light of evidence, we only have to recognize that the Redmond-based company has achieved the unthinkable: an Internet Explorer that actually works.
Let me get this out of the way first: Firefox and Chrome fans won’t be convinced to embrace Internet Explorer, simply because they won’t find many innovative features. That’s right, Microsoft has taken a big step forward with its latest web browser but the effort will only serve to stop losing market share to its competitors so drastically.
Why I say this? Well, because almost all of what Internet Explorer 9 offers is on the other browsers for quite some time now. IE 9’s interface is as sleek, minimalistic and elegant as you might expect: it was stripped down to the basics, with a few action buttons (home, refresh, stop), few menus and a “one-in-all” address bar that also conducts searches. Sounds familiar? It should. The design is very similar to Chrome’s, which puts Internet Explorer in the dominating browser trend: less is more.
IE 9 also includes some sort of speed dial feature (like Opera has done for quite some time) that shows you the most visited sites with their correspondent bar in which the frequency of your accesses is shown.
One of the most criticized aspects of the previous IE versions was how slow they were. They take too much to install, to open, to load pages. In these times in which being fast is almost mandatory, Microsoft understood that this was an issue in which they would have to work very hard on if they wanted to recover from their recent losses.
Of course, security features were revamped as well as to comply with modern standards. The most important one is the addition of a SmartScreen Filter that advices you against potentially harmful sites and that gives you a report on the files you’re downloading. This last function lets you learn about online threats packed in a file by providing you with information of a reputation system.
Other of the features included in Internet Explorer 9 are the ability to pin any website to your Windows 7 taskbar to access it more quickly, a performance advisor that notifies you about add-ons that might slow the browser’s general performance and a notification bar that warns you whenever you’re visiting websites with non-secured contents.
What’s missing in Internet Explorer 9? Something that Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox have covered a long time ago: a wide availability of add-ons. Third party developers have been contributing to the development of several add-ons for Chrome and Firefox but Microsoft hasn’t figured out how to interest programmers into developing components for IE. At this point, it seems that the Redmond giant won’t be able to make it, which turns Internet Explorer 9 into a less attractive alternative for customization fans.
In conclusion, Internet Explorer 9 is a step in the right direction for Microsoft but one that will only fit the needs of loyal users. The company hasn’t surpassed its competitors in many aspects but at least it’s built a strong product that might give it some air in this fierce browser war. You can download Internet Explorer 9 here and tell us what you think.
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