Well here it is the much loathed Internet Explorer 9 Beta. Trouble is, there is nothing to loath here folks. Move along, quickly across the web, rendering beautifully and HTML5 ready.

Wow, it really rocks this browser and sports a sleek new minimalist look which blends elegantly in to the Windows 7 UI.

You can download the new browser from the Beauty of the Web web site which incidentally is hosted in the cloud on Azure. Good on you MS for dog fooding your own cloud solution.

So enough of the hoopla, how does it stack up.

HTML5

Well one of the first things I tried to do was go to the much touted Apple HTML5 and Web Standards page and guess what, Apple blocks the page demos from any other browser but Safari so you can’t even do a fair comparison. That’s pretty uncool if you ask me.

Apple Uncool

Ok let’s try another site instead. I did some searching for HTML5 tests and found the following pages:

Test PageIE9SafariFirefoxChrome
http://www.html5test.com/96/300207/300139/300217/300
http://www.youtube.com/html5YesYesYesYes
http://jero.net/lab/ph5p/tests.htmlSameSameSameSame
Audio TestNoNoYesYes
This is just a quick test of things I could find on the Web and by no means comprehensive or should it be taken as gospel. So it looks like IE9 still has a way to go as far as HTML5 goes but this is the first Beta.

CSS + Javascript

As far as CSS goes I couldn’t fault the browser. Everything rendered beautifully and I had to make ZERO tweaks to CSS to get any of the sites I have worked on running. These are sites that I have literally spent hours tweaking for IE7/8 (don’t even think about IE6 anymore).

However, it was not without some problems. When rendering smh.com.au the site would appear fine at first but then some of the content would disappear. See before and after below.

BeforeAfter
Also on one of the sites I have developed which use jstree it would not render the tree at all, it just sat there with the waiting icon spinning. This i suspect is a jstree issue though and I am moving away from using this jQuery plugin pretty rapidly.

Javascript was fast, much much faster than any IE browser before it. However, in a pretty intense sort operation over 1727 objects in an array using the following sort algorithm IE9 was slower than the competition. Noticeably slower than Chrome, Safari and Firefox but a huge improvement on previous versions of IE. The performance although it was slower was acceptable however.

function Sort(sortColumn, direction) { if (sortColumn 'MemberNumber') { if (direction 'asc'){ searchResults.sort(function(a,b){ return a.MemberNumber-b.MemberNumber; }); } else{ searchResults.sort(function (a, b) { return b.MemberNumber - a.MemberNumber; }); } } else { searchResults.sort(function (a, b) { var compareA = a[sortColumn].toLowerCase(); var compareB = b[sortColumn].toLowerCase(); if (direction == 'desc') { compareA = b[sortColumn].toLowerCase(); compareB = a[sortColumn].toLowerCase(); } if (compareA < compareB) { return -1; } elseif (compareA > compareB) { return 1; } else { return 0; } }); } }



Combined Search and URL Bar

In keeping with the minimalist UI the Address bar and Search bar have been combined in to one. So you can use it like this:

Address Bar



or this:

image

Tabs

When clicking on a new Tab you are taken to the “Your most popular sites” page which shows you sites you have previously visited with a ranking of how often. It’s a little bland at this stage and not exactly revolutionary but still it‘s kind of nice.

Your most popular sites

The ability to drag tabs off in to a new window works really nicely and it a much more pleasant experience than Firefox.

The new Jump lists feature is also very handy bringing a web page in to the OS and treating it more like an application.

IE9 Tabs and Jump lists



Downloads

When downloading files a new flat dialog appears at the bottom of the browser which is a nice little touch



Download

And sports a nice new download manager.

Download Manager

Conclusion

The IE9 browser is a huge step forward for Microsoft in particular when it comes to CSS and this is key. Not adhering to Web Standards with previous versions of IE makes a developers life hell.

The minimalist UI is a welcome change and I like that they are just focusing on the important stuff and not bells and whistles.

Keep it up Microsoft but don’t stop just yet. Keep going and tick all those final boxes.

BondiGeek