By Craig Buckler

IE9 Beta Release – September 15, 2010

By Craig Buckler

Microsoft will release the first public beta of Internet Explorer 9.0 on September 15, 2010. It will be a fully-operational browser without the limitations imposed by the developer preview edition (it will have address bar, navigation, and no restricted functionality).

IE9 is Microsoft’s attempt to catch up and potentially overtake the competition. The browser will feature hardware-accelerated HTML5, CSS3, SVG, canvas, a new JavaScript engine and vastly improved standards support.

Unfortunately, the IE9 beta will only run on Windows Vista or 7 and will overwrite your current version of Internet Explorer. Be wary if you only have one Windows PC used for IE8 testing purposes. You have one month to consider the options:

  1. Buy another PC for IE9 testing. That’s certainly an option for larger corporations.
  2. XP users who don’t want to upgrade will need to install Windows Vista or 7 in a virtual machine to test IE9.
  3. Windows Vista or 7 users could install IE9 beta and run IE8 in a virtual machine. Windows 7 Professional and above includes XP mode so there’s no need to purchase further Windows licenses.
  4. Alternatively, Microsoft will provide another edition of the Platform Preview if you don’t want to affect the software and settings on your PC prior to the final release. Again, this will only install on Windows 7 or Vista SP2.

Of course, Microsoft could make this so much easier if multiple versions of Internet Explorer could be installed on the same PC at the same time. Providing IE9 for Windows XP would be a bonus too. But the browser looks promising so perhaps we should be just thankful IE is finally catching up with the competition.

Will you be tempted to try the beta version of IE9?

  • I’m looking forward to IE9. It looks like a promising browser. I don’t think it will replace my current browser (Chrome) but I’m interested to see how much they have improved their HTML5 and CSS support. Also how much they have speeded up their JavaScript engine.

    Also, as I use XP in work I will have to install it at home on my Vista machine. Shame it won’t be available on XP.

  • Jace

    Whilst the standards conformance sounds promising I’m disappointed that it blows away older versions and doesn’t just install as a standalone version. Another VM image to build {sigh}

  • majikmerlin

    I’m a little bummed that it won’t install on Windows XP. Anyway, i’m just gonna wait until the final release.

  • Matt

    Use for browser testing. Its sweet.

    • Jace

      interesting!! will take a look thx

  • I’m looking forward to IE9. I won’t use it as a primary browser, but it will be nice to be able to use HTML5 and CSS3 and have it work in IE. I hope the public is quick to adopt.

  • joezim007

    I’m very surprised at the number of votes saying IE is irrelevant. I really hope that they’re kidding because, seriously, IE is a huge part of the market share!

    Like others, I’m bummed about the lack of WinXP support too. I run Win7, but so many people are still using XP, especially with the rising interest in netbooks and their lack of ability to handle Win7. And honestly, I’d still be using Windows XP too, but I’m a student so I got Win7 for free through the MSDN Alliance. :)

    • Wolf_22

      Don’t forget about the ppl out there who lack the means to buy a laptop or desktop capable of having Win7 on it, too.

    • Xtolord

      Its not the fact that IE is irrelevant, its the fact that its the worst browser there is. For most users of the web they just dont care, but for us developpers who care about standards and “working” codes it makes a big difference.

      Most people just dont understand our fixation on web standard, but to put it simply, IE [ specially IE6] is like a car using SQUARE wheels, or a power connector with only 1 pin [or better off with no pins at all]
      Just take any object and take off its most standard features and you get an IE browser [specially an IE6 browser ].

      The news that IE9 is going to support HTML5 and CSS3 and improve its JavaScript engine are really great, but I’ve been hearing this since IE6, and IE7 & 8 are great improvements but they just miss the core important features that are used to build everyday web.

      I sure hope IE9 will be fully compliant [or at least more that 50% compliant] with current webstandards. But the hard fact is that they must “KILL” IE6 and the other versions to really make a difference.

    • Uncle B.O.B.

      I thought I’d shove my post here since this is the first mention of Poll votes for ‘IE is irrelevant’. Seriously… I voted for it, simply because its true! The browsers CRAP!, IE6 is joke, IE7 and IE8 improved somewhat and IE9 will probably do slightly better. The only time I use the browser is when I develop websites and test them in it.
      Anyone still bitching about the lack of support for IE9 to be in Windows XP is a joke as well… cmon theres Firefox, Opera and Safari which are WAY-BETTER-BROWSERS! Chose one, and stop ye whining.
      What they should have done when Windows 7 was released was give the user an option to install Firefox, Opera and/or Safari. So you could have 1, 2 or 3 browsers installed and… they should have totally scrapped Internet Explorer. In fact now when I think of it, they should of done it with Vista.

      • Chose one [a browser], and stop ye whining.

        You can do that. I can do that. Some people can’t (novices, corporate users). Some people won’t (they like IE).

        What they should have done when Windows 7 was released was give the user an option to install Firefox, Opera and/or Safari.

        They did … in Europe, anyway. It had little real impact on browser market shares.

  • Sphamandla

    Wow only windows 7 and Vista that means we have to pay more to be able to enjoy their benefits.I’m also looking forward to the IE9 release but is it necessary to overwrite your current IE and yes it would have been a bonus to have support for XP. I guess we”ll have to wait and see what Microsoft have in store for us

  • I can’t believe how some actually say that IE is irrelevant. You can’t ignore it! Whether you never use it or not, when you got your new windows PC, you probably had to use it to download Firefox or whatever else you use! Most people get their PC this way, and continue using IE…

  • E. Scribbler

    I thought browsers were supposed to be device-independent.

    • Wolf_22

      I thought websites were supposed to be browser-independent.

      • xtolord

        They are – most sites are build according to standard – not to browsers models.
        Except that we need to adjust for each and every IE flavor later on :(

    • They are, MS Windows simply failed to be browser independent. LOL

  • I can’t believe how some actually say that IE is irrelevant.

    Who’s saying it’s irrelevant? :? Or did some comments get deleted?

    • Currently this is 26% of people’s answers on the home page poll.

      • Josh

        I think web developers vote this is because of 3 reasons:
        1. They lost hope in Microsoft long ago
        2. Because they’re tired of dealing with Microsoft’s ignorance
        3. Microsoft is more interested in money than anything else

  • The question was “will I be tempted”..the answer is no.. I will install it, no temptation needed…

  • AndrewCooper

    This is brilliant news from Microsoft and by the looks of all the testing done and the new feautures that have been made available in the Platform Previews IE 9 is really going to be at the same hurdle (possibly a bit ahead) as the other mainstream Web browsers – Brilliant!

    I won’t be using IE 9 beta though, as soon as IE 9 is released as an official product I’ll be downloading, installing, and using it as my primary Web browser then :)

    As for the people that are still using Windows XP, it’s just tough luck really. Microsoft want people to upgrade their operating systems to Windows Vista or Windows 7 and that is totally understandable, when you’re in the technology era you have to keep up to date.

    Hopefully this will push for the death of Windows XP, IE 6, and 7 so we can focus on IE 8 and 9.

    • I understand Microsoft trying to push Windows 7 but installing Vista over XP is not an upgrade. Vista is a terrible OS. I would put it up there with Windows Millennium edition as being one of the worst OS’s I have ever used.

      The reason XP is still being used by so many is because it works. It doesn’t take up large amounts of your PC’s resources like Vista does which is why so many companies bundle XP with their low spec netbooks. By not supporting XP many of the people who have netbooks will likely use a different browser such as Chrome which is lightweight and simple but still has all the features you need in a browser.

      Microsoft are making a mistake not supporting XP imo.

      • manu0701

        Forget about net books using xp Microsoft are not allowing company’s to by xp form October and dell have already cut it from being sold with any new net books

        xp users should all upgrade to windows 7 not the dreaded vista

  • I’m not going to be using IE 9.0 until I replace my computer with a newer one. I’m currently running XP and was smart enough to avoid Vista just like I did with Windows Millennium Edition. I’m not going to rush out and upgrade just for the sake of IE 9.0 though. My next computer purchase is going to consist of a touch screen monitor and a few other extras. In fact, a touch screen monitor is more important to me compared to having or not having IE9. The type of Processor in my next computer purchase is way more important to me compared to Microsoft’s latest browser. There’s some other Microsoft technologies that I’m far more interested in playing with on Windows 7 as well. IE9 for windows XP would be a bonus, but I’m not going to hold my breath. This ultimately just gives me more “Chrome” time.

  • Anonymous

    To every Web Designer who voted IE being irrelevant, you need to start thinking for your customers.

  • Wesser

    I think it is a smart move to make IE9 only work on Vista and 7. Must be quite a pain in the ass to continue to make things backwards compatible. I remember Apple has doing this in the past with Safari where you had to have the latest version of Safari.

    Can’t wait to try it out. Use virtual machines for all my testing anyway so just another one to setup.

  • Kragh

    Hmm, I don’t think a lot of Vista/Windows 7-users are using IE6 or older, so it is only going to create a greater gap between the IE-users.
    Instead of moving all the IE6 users to IE9, some of the IE7/IE8 users are moving to IE9. I looking forward to seeing some stats on this.
    IMHO a smart move would be to make IE able to auto-update like all the other smart browsers out there, not as a part of windows update.

  • I’m surprised to see a large proportion of people saying IE’s irrelevant. However, when you think about it, every browser should be irrelevant. Pages should be designed for the web — not specific browsers.

    OK, so refusing to test IE isn’t sensible but, with IE9 (and 8 to a large extent), we’re getting to the point where browsers are more consistent than they’ve ever been.

  • Ivo

    Users (not developers) don’t need more than one IE version (especially some old ones like 6, 7 and even 8) so I can’t understand what is your problem with IE9 overwriting previous version. Developers are already using some third party applications for testing in older versions of IE so it shouldn’t be a problem for them too.
    Everyone wanted to make as much as possible to wipe out old IEs and now when IE9 is ready to partly do this job you are still not happy about it.
    But I guess it’s true that a man can never be pleased…

    • The problem is that conscientious web developers need to test their site or app using IE8, IE7, IE6 and, soon, IE9. Third-party IE simulators do not work accurately: they can be used for basic layout checks but more complex issues cannot be addressed. For example, most use IE8’s JavaScript engine even though you think you’re viewing IE6. Even installing then uninstalling IE7 on XP does not leave you with a ‘clean’ version of IE6. Therefore, it’s essential to use separate PCs or VMs for every version of IE you want to test.

      We wouldn’t have the issue if Microsoft forced IE updates like Google does with Chrome. Failing that, other browsers permit multiple versions to be installed at the same time. IE doesn’t.

      • Ivo

        I couldn’t agree more about the forced updates as far as it’s browser concerned. But apparently we can’t have this. :)
        The overwriting of IE versions is not something new so I really prefer to focus on the benefits of IE9 (working properly, modern and trying to minimize old versions existence, even not automatically and not possible on every platform) rather than whimpering about it. :-)

        And who knows, maybe IE9 will come with forced auto update for new versions of IE some day. :)

      • I doubt MS will ever implement forced updates — it’s too risky for corporate customers.

        The only reason IE doesn’t allow multiple installations is that it’s tightly integrated into the OS. That’s more of a marketing decision than a technical one (although it had some technical benefits). It’s also the cause of many a Microsoft anti-trust court case.

        In the old days it wasn’t a significant problem: the internet was dominated by a more technical user base, the benefits for upgrading were clear, and new browser versions appeared every few months. Unfortunately, MS’s decision to abandon browser development in 2001 is causing IE fragmentation ripples in 2010. We now have users on IE6 who can’t upgrade (because of legacy applications), users on IE8 who can’t upgrade (because they’re using XP) and, soon, users on IE9.

        Developers may not like it, but that’s the state of the market and they need to test those browsers. Unfortunately, MS’s marketing decision from 15 years ago has made the testing process more complicated than it need be.

  • Michael

    Microsoft offer free virtual machines for testing their browser versions. This ranges from IE6-8 and XP-Vista/

    • Thanks Michael. Note that all those images expire, so it’s not a viable long-term solution.

      • They do expire. Then you have to download a new version which will also expire after a few months. Inconvenient but better than all the other options I’ve tried (online browser screen captures, Expression Web super preview etc.)

  • Microsoft are NOT making a mistake not supporting XP. Two reasons:

    1. Very very few XP users will want to use IE9. By the time IE9 final ships, some will have upgraded to Win7. Others are already using Firefox or Chrome and don’t intend to go back to IE. And then there are the millions of people with very little computer knowledge, afraid to click on the wrong icons because it could break their computer, and who don’t even know what a “web browser” is–they’re still using the IE6 that came with their XP machine, and won’t change until they buy a new machine. Finally, corporate users tied to IE6 won’t lament the loss of IE9 on XP (duh).

    2. Supporting XP means they have to kill the hardware acceleration, drop font rendering improvements, drop SVG, drop Canvas, drop some or most CSS3 improvements. We would end up with “IE9 Full” on Vista and Win7 (where they use system libraries introduced in Vista for powering most of those things), and “IE9 Crippled” on WinXP. Also, branched code base, more efforts from the IE Team, and a IE9 final release six months later than the current track. That’s not a great idea. Of course, they could develop non-system libraries for powering all those improvements, basically duplicating parts of the system libraries introduced in Vista so that they work in XP. That would probably delay the final release of IE9 by one or two full years, but who cares, compatibility with good old WinXP is more important, right?

    The IE Team made the right choice: no WinXP support.

    On the other hand, it would be great to be able to install and run several versions of IE (say versions 7 to 9) on Win7. It should be quite easier for IE/Win engineers to fit the necessary IE7 dependencies on Windows 7 than to fit the IE9 dependencies on Windows XP.

    • I’m not convinced XP users don’t want IE9. There are many people using IE8 as their corporate browser or because they prefer it over Firefox, Chrome, Opera or Safari (yes, those people do exist!)

      XP currently has a massive 50% of the OS market, with Vista/7 sharing 30% between them. Windows 7 has been available for nearly a year and, although it’s growing, XP will remain the predominant OS for some time to come — even after IE9 is released.

      Also, why would they need to drop SVG, canvas and CSS3 on XP? Other browsers implement them in the OS without a problem. I realise they’re using Vista/7 versions of DirectX for rendering, but there’s no technical reason why those libraries couldn’t be ported to XP.

      As you point out, one reason is development time. But if any company has the resources to support XP, it’s Microsoft. Obviously, MS want people to migrate to Windows 7 so more of their products will drop support for the older OS’s. IE’s the first application to do that, but I doubt many people will decide to upgrade XP just because IE9 is available.

      • boltronics

        Windows XP’s client SSL stack doesn’t support SNI, which means that multiple VirtualHosts running from a single IP address with unrelated SSL certificates will simply not appear to work correctly in browsers on that OS.

        What’s going to happen when IPv4 IP addresses run out, and we need more servers? One strong possibility is that people will turn to SNI, and SSL simply will not work on XP – *unless* people use Firefox, which uses the Mozilla NSS library instead, which *does* support SNI on Windows XP. Somehow I can’t see MS using Mozilla NSS, or updating their existing SSL implementation.

        SNI is already particularly tempting for those providing third party hosting using AWS, where instances only have a single public IP address. You don’t want a separate small instance for every site just because it supports SSL?

        So basically, browsing on Windows XP using IE (of *any* version) was never going to work in the long run anyway. When IP addresses *really* run out and nobody wants to use IPv6 addresses, things are going to get fun. :)

  • It sounds promising however IE always been one step back from other browsers.
    Please correct me if I am wrong, if I install IE9 Beta on my Win 7 I wouldn’t be able to use IE8 anymore and I need some kind Virtual Machine if I wish to use IE8, Pretty SAD. It’s been a headache any of MS’s product if you wish to install you need some other support. Can’t they come up with something wise. Considering I have installed Firefox 4 Beta and I’m still able to use earlier version of Firefox.

  • I’m still testing websites in IE6, and it seems ridiculous to test in IE6, IE7, IE8, AND IE9. I think when IE9 final comes out, I’m going to stop testing in IE6. Can’t support IE6 forever.

  • It’s worth noting that this won’t help users with Windows XP.
    Despite that this seems to be a very nice service. :)

    • This was in reference to the reply above – not quite sure how it ended up out of context?

  • I find it a complete pain that I won’t be able to test for IE9 in Window XP.


    • IE is pain (doesn’t matter version), why do you wana take pain? :D

  • Microsoft’s 2010 R&D budget is $9,500,000,000, yet many people want them to give away their products and to promote the competitors… I don’t understand the logic…

  • Great! It’s about time Microsoft tries to catch up with competition, especially since my Internet Explorer 8 decided to die and there’s no hope for it. I’ve tried Microsoft “Fix It”, CPR, first aid and a blood transfusion but even Microsoft can help me out with IE 8 as it’s DOA. Adios IE 8, you won’t be missed whatsoever since you’ve never worked..!

  • Arnold Chand

    It actually seems like IE was just released this year, I mean after so many years that IE was developed it never showed any differences compared to the other web browsers that came after it, but when all the Web Browser (i.e Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari…) then IE started taking this seriously but then it was too late. Right now I feel that IE is actually releasing their first web browser to catch up with the other competitors.

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