Tonight at 9PM Pacific, 12AM eastern, Microsoft will release the final version of Internet Explorer 9 to the web, and already there is much fanfare. Here at South by Southwest Interactive, the company is showcasing the browser’s capabilities along with several websites and web apps. During the keynote address IE’s Dean Hachamovich emphasized that the browser’s year-long trek from preview to release with millions of downloads in-between has resulted in a browser that’s exactly what users want. Or so they hope.
From the beginning, one of the best things about IE9 has been the hardware acceleration, and many of the demos take advantage of this. This means that the browser will be able to tap the power of the GPU at appropriate times — such as when watching video or looking at a graphics-heavy HTML5 page. And, depending on your hardware, you may also see even better power efficiency.
HTML5 standards are built-in, which will enable better interactivity and rich web apps. Hachamovich demoed FourSquare Playground and the KEXP website, which has some cool visualizations and great GUI for presenting content. It’s pretty amazing what’s possible with HTML5 code, and I’m glad to see next generation browsers supporting it.
They’re also emphasizing speed and a clean design, which we’ve already praised. Hachamovich explained that this is to help users focus on the content in their browser instead of the browser itself. Other than the tabs, there’s not much at the top of the window by default, offering the max screen real estate of any browser.
Like Firefox 4, IE9 supports pinning sites to the Windows 7 taskbar. Sites that wish to provide a richer experience when pinned can also program in changes to the icon when there are notifications, new messages, or other events.