The beta release of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 is just around the corner. The first version of the browser with the new interface included will be available publicly on September 15.
Users who have tested some of the preview builds that were offered without interface may have already noticed that Microsoft may be finally able to close the gap that currently exists between Internet Explorer and Chrome, Opera and Firefox.
Users who run IE8 next to one of the other browsers will have noticed that it cannot compete performance wise. Improvements in this area, and the fact that Internet Explorer 9 will improve its support of web standards are probably the two major changes in the new browser.
Microsoft has not revealed the new interface of the browser yet. There have been some leaks, and it is generally assumed that the browser will have an interface that looks a lot like that of the Google Chrome browser. Still, until we get an official confirmation it is all guesswork.
More important than the looks is the compatibility of the browser. A lot will change with the release of Internet Explorer 9.
Microsoft has already started to drop Windows XP support in the latest Microsoft Security Essentials releases, and that trend will continue with the release of Internet Explorer 9.
Windows XP users will not be able to use Internet Explorer 9. It is not as tragic as it sounds, as there are several alternatives available, among them Microsoft's own Internet Explorer 8 web browser, and the previously mentioned third party browsers.
The lack of support will have an impact on the browser's market share in the first years after its release, considering that more than 50% of all Windows users are still using Windows XP.
Vista and Windows 7 users on the other hand may be inclined to install the new Internet Explorer as soon as it comes out, considering that it is a major improvement over its predecessor. But that's usually only true for home computers, and not company computers.
To sum it up in one sentence: Internet Explorer 9 will be a major improvement, which makes it a recommended update for all Vista, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 users.
What are your expectations? Will you download the beta that is coming out in five days?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.