It’s IE9 Beta Download Day

By Craig Buckler
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I’m genuinely excited. I don’t remember feeling this way when Chrome 6, Firefox 3.6 or Opera 10.60 were released — and IE9 is just a beta. There are several reasons for my unusual optimism:

  1. We normally wait 2 years between IE updates.
  2. The IE development team has listened to our demands and IE9 is the first version to support HTML5, CSS3, SVG, canvas and several other technologies.
  3. Unlike other vendors, Microsoft has been particularly secretive about IE9’s new interface. A screenshot was leaked, but we’ll only know whether it’s real today.

The beta download should be available at (yes, seriously) from:

11:00 US PDT
12:00 US MDT
13:00 US CDT
14:00 US EDT
18:00 UTC / GMT
19:00 UK / Ireland
20:00 Europe
21:00 Eastern Europe
22:00 Moscow
02:00 September 16 Australia AWST
03:30 September 16 Australia ACST
04:00 September 16 Australia AEST

Before you rush off to download the browser, note:

  • IE9 is not available for Windows XP. I hope Microsoft rectify that, but I doubt they’ll ever support their aging OS … even if the vast majority of people continue to use XP.
  • Installing IE9 on Windows Vista or 7 will remove your existing installation of IE7 or IE8. Since those browsers will remain popular for many years to come, ensure you have them available on another PC or virtual machine for web development testing purposes. Alternatively, there will be another release of the IE9 platform preview — it’ll run alongside existing versions of IE but it’s far more limited.

The big question — is IE9 any good? Can it live up to our expectations? Head over to our in-depth review…

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  • The question with IE is never when it’s released, it’s when it’s adopted. I wonder if IE9 might finally embarrass a few more corporate IT managers into installing something more modern than IE6…

    “IE9 is not available for Windows XP.”

    Presumably that rules out XP Mode too…

    “Installing IE9 on Windows Vista or 7 will remove your existing installation of IE7 or IE8.”

    Without wanting to diminish the achievement that IE9 looks to be, man it’s a pain in the arse to manage the various versions of IE you need for testing :-/

  • I don’t think it runs on OSX or Ubuntu either, so I will have to miss out.

    • Alastair

      No *nix – nothing outside of 7 and Vista. Not a huge loss as it means there’ll be an even slimmer proportion of users with IE henceforth! =D

  • Revital Agency

    gonna do my best to test out all our current clients sites and post a review on

  • I’m keen to try it out (and for everyone else to start using it). Not so keen about having to set up another virtual machine to test 6,7,8 and 9. :/

  • Sphamandla

    I don’t know whether IE9 will live up to our expectations but I certainly hope so. The good thing is that it supports recent technologies on the other hand removes any previous version of IE installed and does not run on XP which doesn’t make me to happy.

  • fn64

    before we all rush on downloading IE (giggles), let think about:
    1. well, honestly, is somebody in last 6-7 years waited for new version of IE? The answer is NO, we only waited for the beautiful day when version 4, then 5, and now 6 will completely disappear from the face of earth.
    2. Microsoft never listened to our demands. If they did, they’d make their browser standard compliant back in 2002. But that time they were monopolists and decided to go their way ignoring everything. The only reason we see HTML5 and SVG in IE9 is that it’s marked share now dropped below 60%.
    And you know what ugly truth is? Nobody, really nobody except web developers will download IE9 today, not in a month or two. We are making sites for people, not for ourselves, that mean we still are going to deal with IE6 for a couple of years. So what is this hype all about?
    I’m getting tired of these ‘don’t miss new version of browser X’ news coming out every day. Google spit out new versions every three months, Apple promote themselves by implementing some lousy proprietary features, calling them HTML5, bulshitting about open web, standards and blah-blah, meanwhile crapping on Adobe, Microsoft is ‘leaking’ screenshots… bleh.
    Is it a new kind of browser wars in the age of Web 2.0? Only this time the winner will be the one who implements more fancy ‘HTML5’ features.
    End users, as always, will lose.

  • Francis Adu-Gyamfi

    IE9 is supposed to have Browser Mode and Engine rendering for all older versions of IE even up to 5.5, so why should there be a need to install a separate VM just to test older versions.

    But I await the download patiently, :)

    • In IE8 the rendering modes are *similar* but not true emulations of what the real browser will do. To put it another way: you can’t do serious QA relying on the modes, you need real installs. So unless IE9 seriously changed the way rendering modes work, we’re still stuck running up VMs.

      • That’s not a unique situation either — the IE7 emulation mode in IE8 is not exactly the same as a native IE7 install.

  • Emil Ivanov

    I just downloaded IE9 beta and i got disappointed again, very poor performance with border-radius and box-shadow, these are not the only problems but i hope most of them will be fixed for the final version…
    ps: ……………….

  • If you hadn’t realised, the IE9 download is available now. I’m using it to write this comment!

    • BTW, the leaked screenshots were real!

      • Yes! I’ll download the beta a little later, but I saw on the site that the screenshot was indeed accurate. Crazy.

        Can you post of shot of how it works with half-a-dozen tabs open? What happens to the address bar?

  • FireFox bloated

    Is it better than FF? And does it run in less memory?

  • Dave C

    It seems pretty decent, some CSS issues with some sites like Apple’s (gee), issues with failures to import bookmarks from firefox, etc. Overall much better layout than 8 ever was. Something to look forward to once it passes the beta stage.

  • dan

    I am having HUGE problems downloading ie 9 on my vista machine. It starts the download process and puts it on my desktop but “hangs” and doesn’t ever complete the installation when I try to run it

  • A few of us attended a press briefing here in Melbourne this morning where the various features were demonstrated. I have to say, on the surface I was pretty impressed. The IE team have put quite a bit of thought into some of the UI decisions, and there is some genuine innovation happening here. But don’t want to steal Craig’s thunder…

  • the.peregrine

    Brilliant marketing strategy to restrict this browser to Vista and Windows 7 … while every other major browser (except Microsoft’s) is available and well-adapted for any OS you choose. It just makes me want to rush out today and lay down a bunch of money to degrade my entire system and render my old reliable software installations unusable.

  • JHig310336

    IE9 Downloaded and Install.

    Download took a bit longer than I like. I visited Microsoft and downloaded a 35MB file and installed it. Then that file prompted another popup download bar that downloaded an “additional services” which took almost 5 minutes to dl. Chrome is still the fastest download browser ever. It took me less than a minute to download and install Chrome.

    On the surface, looks and feels like IE7-8

    There are some major CSS problems. Most, if not all the websites I visit has CSS problems under IE9. This page (Sitepoint) has CSS problems under IE9.

    It has a Google Chrome streamlined look. Top tool bar is not there any more and just like Chrome all browser functions are placed under icons on the right upper side of the browser. Because the top tool bar is missing, I don’t know why there is so much un-used space at the top. It just looks weird.

    It is a bit faster than previous version.

    At the moment I’m unimpressed by it. Microsoft is definatly over-hyping IE9. Decided to use it as my main browser for a week, give it a proper run.

    One thing I’ve notice is, there still no Extentions for these browsers. Browsers need tool sets! Microsoft and Opera needs to get on the ball with Extentions.

    Other than that, its just a web browser and at the moment doesn’t offers anything that would resemble an Chrome killer.

  • JHig310336

    I’ll give major props to IE9 in the multimedia department.

    Youtube and Vimeo videos seem more DVD movie like. I really can’t explain what I see but its different than before and different than other current browser. Even on low video setting of 360p, Youtube videos are movie like. No delay in picture, sound quality is high def, and no pixelated look. Looks as if I’m watching a DVD.

  • Vinoth

    Just one word, the best browser experience so far in my life. simply so fast and stunning in UI

    • Wardrop

      @Vinoth, you must not have tried anything other than Internet Explorer then :-)

      • ADI

        Vinodh, Did you develop IE9 in India via MS?

  • davidcroda

    Mark your calendar’s folks! 7 years from today you will be able to safely start using CSS3 and SVG on your websites.

  • davidcroda

    It fails the acid3 test at 95/100 on my pc.

  • davidcroda

    Wow, on my PC it is failing the acid3 test at 95/100 . I guess maybe I should take back my previous comment ;)

    Here are some benchmark numbers for comparison using Sun Spider Javascript Benchmark (

    Total: 539.2ms +/- 1.6%

    Chrome 6
    Total: 386.8ms +/- 4.6%

    Firefox 3.6.9 (all add-ons disabled)
    Total: 1231.2ms +/- 0.9%

  • Wardrop

    A few points straight up after using IE9 for about 10 minutes…

    * Tabs do no extend all the way top of the browser when maximised. This is a real shame as it’s one of the main benefits of having tabs on the top (or next to) the address bar. Google “Fitt’s Law” to read what I’m referring to.
    * They’ve finally got rid of the border around the web canvas. Ever since the original Internet Explorer, there’s always been a border around the entire canvas area (where the web page is actually displayed in IE). They’ve finally got rid of this in IE9, so now web page extend to both the left and right edges of the screen when maximised.
    * There’s about a 6 pixel white strip directly below the tabs. I hope they get rid of this as it doesn’t serve any purpose, takes up vertical real-estate, and is a distraction on darker websites. It can also obfuscate the top edge of websites with white or light backgrounds.
    * The internet options dialog still remains the same. It hasn’t had any major changes in at least 10 years.

    Internet Explorer 9 simply hasn’t made enough changes and improvements to change my view of it. Using it still makes me feel dirty.

    • Dave Houlbrooke

      I completely agree.

      Thank GOD the 1px canvas border has gone. That annoyed me so much.

      I presume the 6px white border at the top was added to play nice with the fade-to-white at the bottom of an active tab. You’re completely right though, it needs to go. It looks ridiculous.
      I’d lose the white, and grey out or add a slight drop-shadow at the bottom of the inactive tabs to make them stand out more.

      I’ve NO IDEA why they left so much space above the tabs. I guess they figured ‘stupid’ IE users are clumsier with a mouse than ‘advanced’ Google Chrome users. Which doesn’t then explain the tiny home (etc) buttons, or the tiny ‘close tab’ button.

  • john j.

    i install ie9 but my pc is freeze.
    fixed my pc with

  • COB

    I installed IE9 to try it out and quickly uninstalled it after it broke all navigation within MOSS 2007.

    I love it when MS can’t even support the garbage code it originally generates.