March 15, 2011

Microsoft Announces Launch Of Internet Explorer 9

The full version of Microsoft's new Web browser, Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), was launched Monday, and the company claims the new version's speed and security will give users a whole new feeling and encourage the creation of a more "beautiful" Internet.

The software giant, spending $10 million in an advertising push, said IE9's graphics, security and privacy features will offer a competitive edge against rivals Firefox, Safari and Chrome Web browsers. Microsoft's browser market shares have continued to fall and the company hopes the new browser version will reverse the decline.

Ashley Highfield, UK managing director of Microsoft, said that the release marked "the tipping point for the next generation, high definition internet; it's a critical component for the next chain of events."

Microsoft released a beta version of IE9 last year and more than 40 million people have already downloaded that version, giving it a small percentage share of the global Web browser market before an official launch. The company said it was the best and fastest adoption rate of any beta product it has ever launched.

Although Microsoft claims IE9 is a faster browser than any other currently offered, Highfield added that the point of the "new web" was the widespread adoption of standards across platforms and programs. Widespread use of the latest programming language, HTML5, will make the web easier to access, he said.

Highfield also claims that the new IE9 will mark a resurgence for "web versus apps."

IE9 effectively allows websites to look far more like applications than websites. "Jump lists" allow bookmarks to offer enhanced features if users add them to the toolbar.

Other features include:

-- Tools to stop people from being tracked as they surf from site to site. Commercial firms often gather this data to tailor ads specifically for users' habits.

-- Separate tools in IE9 to keep an eye on downloads so they can spot when viruses, trojans, and worms try to sneak their way onto a computer.

-- Hardware acceleration built in so IE9 can call on the power of a PC's graphics card to display sites in higher detail.

-- A cleaner interface offers a single box for web addresses, searching and users' web history.

"IE9 will excite web developers and "Ëœprosumers' as they explore the new HTML5 capabilities of the Web's most commonly used browser, but we consider it to be a non-event for the vast majority of corporate IT managers and their users largely because IE9 does not run on Windows XP - the operating system running on 67 percent of corporate desktops," Richard Edwards, analyst for Ovum, told the Telegraph.

While figures on browser shares are tricky at best to compile, web analysis firm Net Applications suggest that Internet Explorer has an estimated 56 percent share of the global market. It suggests Firefox has about 22 percent, Chrome has 11 percent, and Safari has 6 percent.

In a separate study, security firm ZScaler suggests that as much as 20 percent of Web traffic is generated by apps on smartphones and tablets and is not going through a Web browser.

"We believe the next battle ground for the browser wars will be fought not on the desktop, but on the smartphone and tablet," Edwards said. "This is where Microsoft's existing browser offering still has a lot of catching up to do."

Microsoft said about 2 percent of Windows 7 users are now running the latest version of Internet Explorer. IE9 will not run on Windows XP. Users need to have either Windows Vista or Windows 7 to use the latest version.

To find out more about Internet Explorer 9, visit http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/internet-explorer/products/ie-9/home.