Browser

IE9 goes 'all-in' on standards, treats sites like apps in Windows UI

Microsoft unveiled its vision of the future of the Web browser on Wednesday. See how sites are now being treated more like apps, and other changes in IE9.

Microsoft unveiled its vision of the future of the Web browser on Wednesday at an event called the "Beauty of the Web" in San Francisco. The beta version of Internet Explorer 9 that Microsoft showed off is integrated far deeply into Windows, both in terms of the user interface and using PC hardware to accelerate the Web experience.

Dean Hachamovitch, Corporate Vice President of Internet Explorer, said, "People go the Web for sites, not the browser, much as they go to their PC for apps, not Windows. Today, Web sites are boxed in. The box is the browser... Our approach here is to use the whole PC."

Microsoft used some of the data that it has gathered from 15 years of building browsers to spearhead the new UI integration that it is introducing in IE9. Here are three of the data points that Hachamovitch cited:

  • 87% of users have launched a pinned an app from the taskbar; only 1% have ever used a keyboard shortcut for opening up a new tab
  • 33% have pinned one or more apps to taskbar; only 4% have ever added anything to their browser favorites bar
  • 40% [of Windows 7 users I presume] have used Aero Snap to arrange the windows on their desktop; just over 9% have ever had 8 or more tabs open in a browser

As a result, IE9 allows Web sites to be treated much more like applications. They can be pinned to the taskbar, they can have deeper links (jump lists) exposed via their taskbar icon, various tabs from the same site are grouped together in the site's taskbar icon, and tabs can be dragged and separated on the screen using Aero Snap.

"All the user interface, all the pixels, all the code that people need for a significantly better browser experience are already there for the user," said Hachamovitch. "They just happen to be outside of the browser box. You just need to look there and see the whole PC and use it for the browser... IE9 and its experience starts with what more people use more regularly than the browser interface. It starts with what people use every day to launch tasks and manage their windows. we redesigned the browser, putting sites at the center and making what's already familiar to users, from outside the browser, available to sites."

Other improvements and new features that Microsoft is bringing to IE9 include:

  • Using a computer's GPU to speed up HTML5 rendering
  • Committment to open standards, including HTML5, CSS3, and SVG; the W3C recently confirmed Microsoft's involvement with the standards body
  • New Javascript rendering engine called Chakra
  • New notification bar that explains alerts in plain English
  • Unified address bar and search box
  • For downloadable executables, there's a SmartScreen filtering system based on "Application Reputation" that helps catch known malware
  • Better tools for managing add-ons, which Microsoft claims cause 75% of all crashes in IE

And, of course, there's the performance issue, which is paramount. The perception of a faster browser led many users to switch from Netscape to IE, from IE to Firefox, and more recently from Firefox to Chrome.

ZDNet's Ed Bott reported that IE9 offers "dramatically improved performance, thanks to hardware acceleration and an improved JavaScript engine, along with a relentless emphasis on compatibility with modern web standards."

However, Bott added, "I predict that Google Chrome will continue to win many performance tests. But IE9 has closed the gap impressively. It's faster than Firefox across the board and faster than Chrome on tasks where hardware acceleration is involved. Even when those rivals catch up or pass IE9 (as they probably will), it's unlikely that performance differences will be significant."

Sanity check

I've recently criticized Microsoft for not communicating its vision of the future of computing. With the IE9 beta launch, the company provided a small taste of the kind of forward-looking product initiatives that the industry needs to hear from Microsoft. I tip my hat to them for that and I'd like to see a lot more of it.

As for IE9 itself, Microsoft has done some real innovation here. The OS integration with Windows 7 will legitimately make Web sites feel more like apps, with tabs acting like windows and sites being able to control their behavior on the Windows taskbar with Jump Lists and Alerts. This development is significant enough that I expect Apple to respond with something similar in Mac OS X. The real test from a standards point-of-view will be whether the behavior is similar enough that developers don't have to do significant tweaking to make it work across the platforms. That's probably wishful thinking.

The big question will be whether IE9 can stop the slow bleed of users away from IE and toward Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. IE still has the installed base advantage of being the default browser for Windows, but it has long suffered a reputation of being the least secure browser and the one that doesn't work with many some sites because of its departure from Web standards. Microsoft appears to have fixed those issues technically in IE9, but it will likely take longer to repair the perception.

Also see

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

66 comments
Dzinpa
Dzinpa

IE9 should open up more for third party meaningful add-ons or plug-ins. I will be a key fan of IE9 if it will allow Wladimir Palant's Adblock Plus to be fully and effectively integrated into it.

n.champaigne
n.champaigne

There goes your personal data security again. This is exactly the direction I don't want to see happen. How will the local user be able to police his/her system against powerful security invasions and data aquision, herding, and shepherding. It will make Google look like your house mother. Another glorified two-way shopping machine.

bbrao1612
bbrao1612

the moment i installed mi IE stopped wrking. search is dancing.i m not able to delete and can not go to earlier version. very awkward situation. no solution found/ communicated to set right situation.

jhk
jhk

How is this different than making a website an application in Chrome or using prism with Firefox. It seems to me Microsoft is just playing catchup.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't do beta testing for free. At least the open source developers give the code away as compensation for doing so.

seanferd
seanferd

Learned something from malware vendors, did they? Of course, it is easy to use the whole PC, or at least the entire OS, due to the lovely browser/shell integration.

ebyte04
ebyte04

What about security issues? How is IE9 stopping malware?

cgbockius
cgbockius

I have W7 64 ultimate and ie9 beta won't install (wrong service pack)...the w7 that came with my computer...I don't kow what that means so right now I'm not too pleased with it.

ByteBin-20472379147970077837000261110898
ByteBin-20472379147970077837000261110898

I've seen this ever since the web opened up to the public. The only time something becomes significant enough for a web developer to start developing sites compatible with a given browser or technology is if the majority of people are using a certain browser. For example, these days, I would rarely to never develop a site that works just with Opera or Lynx even. I use IE, Firefox (and now Chrome) to see what a site looks like and tweak it so it looks right in all 3 browsers (I might even have to add Safari to the list, as more are using that too). I've seen this with IE before too. New support for something in IE8 and only to find out people emailing me saying it isn't showing up right and finding out they all are using IE7 or even IE6. Or an older version of Firefox. So while new web standards are nice, many folks still keep to older browsers, and thus won't be able to see the pages created with new standards or not see them properly. I guess it's back to the days of putting up on your page prominantly "best viewed with IE(insertversion here), Firfox(insertversionhere) or Chrome, etc."

NetComSulting
NetComSulting

I have been using IE9 all day and so far I am not happy with it at all. Some sites are just horribly not showing correctly and the compatability button does zero to make it work. It has crashed a few times already, and surprisingly the sites I am having the most problems with are msnbc.com It just doesn't feel like a polished beta even. It feels like it is only trying to catch up with chrome and FF i terms of speed. As far as compatability goes. All of my html5, sunspider and acid3 tests are better on chrome by far and even FF beats IE9 on a lot of the testing. I had high hopes for this browser, but I am not so sure anymore.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

No thanks. Whatever apps are on my computer and allowed various freedoms are trusted. Anything Internet is not. Web pages behaving as apps? Nope. Do not even like that idea. I may play with it a bit to see what the fuss is... Making it my browser of choice is, at this point, unlikely.

Allen Halsey
Allen Halsey

"The big question will be whether IE9 can stop the slow bleed of users away from IE and toward Firefox, Chrome, and Safari." Well, for those sticking with XP, the answer to that question is easy: No. Ever since Microsoft announced IE9 will not be available for XP, I've been advising clients to start switching to Firefox.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Remember when everyone left Netscape for IE because it worked so much better on Windows (not to mention it was already included by default)? That's what I imagine sparked this whole initiative. I can imagine the board room meeting: "We've got the market share, we just need to give people a reason why they want to use IE instead of anything else on Windows. Security implications? We'll worry about those later. Monopoly? Hell yeah -- deal with the EU later."

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Before I recommend it, I will probably end up using it in a VM for a while [obviously not XP as XP isn't supported because of the lack of acceleration technologies]. Oh ya. Mozilla got it right when Firefox 4 comes out by releasing a version that support Windows XP. Even though there is no acceleration technologies, Mozilla had the guts to release an updated version. Microsoft will see the IE browser market share drop because of the lack of the acceleration technologies and the fact that they are keeping with their policy in not to update Windows components of OSs that are in extended support phase.

rwieck
rwieck

Well, so much for all the work people did to get IE un-integrated from Windows.

drew.mcbee
drew.mcbee

That said - I have not tried it yet, and probably will not for several months. Only because I don't really have time or inclination to be disappointed again. I sincerely hope they can come up with a browser that works reliably and complies with all standards. One that does not impose MS standards as the only standards on the internet, actively ignoring all others. I would really, really like to be able to tells my users, that yes, IE is a better browser, and no, you don't have to install a different one to do what you want to do.

seanferd
seanferd

is that the web can now directly alter things outside your browser. Well, a lot more than it could before, anyway.

santeewelding
santeewelding

You two don't trust nobody to do nothing right, do you? Can't say as I do, either.

PoppaTab
PoppaTab

Yes! It's a major pain to cater to all the browsers. That said; design is all about getting the message out and keeping it from being garbled by browsers. Too bad the web standards don't apply to all browsers. IE9 ain't bad, but chrome is my default.

PoppaTab
PoppaTab

Wow! Just popped over to the site with 32bit IE9. What a mess! It does the same with the 64bit browser too. Opera showed the site the best. There were some tiny errors with FF and Chrome. My default browser is Chrome, so I'm just playing with IE9.

GreatZen
GreatZen

Remember how shockingly bad the first Chrome beta was? Also ironically that beta choked on most Google services (which you couldn't bookmark). Heck Google's own iGoogle gmail app is compatible with Opera, ie8, and Opera but not chrome. Lets not even talk about Print Preview.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Aren't many of them optimized web tools, ways to access web content in a format suited to the device?

seanferd
seanferd

In what way is it at all desirable?

seanferd
seanferd

But it was because I was thinking of the Desktop Update and integration with the OS. Of course it launches faster, and can be made to seem extremely light on resources when 98% of the browser code is Windows itself. Security implications? We'll worry about those later. It seemed like the entire second to last paragraph of the article was an advertisement for extra functionality integrated right into the desktop security implications. Heck, I won't even let scripts adjust window positions. No thanks.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Well, there goes the corporate market for a couple of years.

seanferd
seanferd

IE itself is just a stub. Most of IE is Windows code.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

IE was never unintegrated, more like disabled. There are just too many components of IE that are part of Windows. Sure the morons at the EU told Microsoft to release a version of windows without IE. But if the component is required by Windows, it wasn't pulled. [While I digress a bit, ever wonder why the EU forced Microsoft to "remove" IE but Safari is still in OSX?] You think Firefox doesn't use some of the same components? Probably.

drew.mcbee
drew.mcbee

All of these posts can be summarized as: IE9-Not good. Did not my prophesy come to pass???

JimTheGeordie
JimTheGeordie

I recently bought a new computer using Windows 7 and Office 2010. On my old XP machine, my monthly wireless internet account cost me less than $40. Outlook is set up like a commercial network with an IMAP connection and the resulting traffic added $150 to my monthly account because of the uploads and downloads exceeding my limit. Is the new IE9 paradigm going to have a similar effect ?

l_creech
l_creech

So far, so good. Site rendering has been mostly flawless over the past couple days of use with a notable exception at msnbc.com; bloody "breaking news" bar sticks in the middle of the page view as soon as I scroll down. Haven't tried online banking in it yet, and likely won't until it is out of beta; if even then as I use my phone for that generally. Haven't missed Flash, but then it would have to have been installed for me to miss it in the first place. I prefer the 64 bit browser just because it doesn't do Flash. It is rather nice going to sites that are Flash intensive and not seeing the "you need Flash Player" popup that IE8 shows constantly. I did turn the Command Bar and Status Bar back on since they are disabled by default, no other toolbars are installed on my systems by choice. Google Instant Search works well, multi-tab works well (I open 5 sites in tabs on launch). HP Web Printing works better than in IE8, nice surprise for the few times I actually print a page. All that said, while I am using IE9 as a default browser on this one system (my gaming rig), I will not be installing it on any of my work related systems until it is RTM. My normal default is Firefox, unless it can't display a page properly (rare, but still happens). Can't really comment on performance with this system, everything is fast... Dual AMD 6174 procs, Tyan S8230GM4NR-DL, 32GB memory, XFX Radeon 5970 4GB, OCZ Vertex 2 240GB SSD boot, Seagate 2TB 7200rpm data drive, Pioneer 12X Blu-Ray burner, and 6 Dell Studio 24" LED displays (I love Eyefinity) stacked 2 high by 3 wide.

dasdbobb
dasdbobb

Because there is no version that supports Flash, therefore no u-tube and other flash apps. There is still no 64 bit flash and the 32 bit in win 7 is disabled by the beta.

markpenny
markpenny

As the competition for the browser steps up as more applications become web based it is going to be interesting to see what happens. Compatibility, either real or percevied is one issue, securtiry the other. In big business IE is there on the desktop & is unlikely to be shifted. For consumers, many will simply not bother & the minority will have thier favourite that they install & use. The next battleground is for the EU & US competitions commissions to look at will be the default settings that go out. Now that M$ has Bing, the similar arguments to the browser market will start again. I particuarly dislike the tie-ups that software companies do with Google, MS & others that install toolbars & change your settings unless you do custom installs.

markpenny
markpenny

As the competition for the browser steps up as more applications become web based it is going to be interesting to see what happens. Compatibility, either real or percevied is one issue, securtiry the other. In big business IE is there on the desktop & is unlikely to be shifted. For consumers, many will simply not bother & the minority will have thier favourite that they install & use. The next battleground is for the EU & US competitions commissions to look at will be the default settings that go out. Now that M$ has Bing, the similar arguments to the browser market will start again. I particuarly dislike the tie-ups that software companies do with Google, MS & others that install toolbars & change your settings unless you do custom installs.

Frgood
Frgood

Honestly, I'm not sure where to start on this thought. My gut screams 'deja vu'. Which leads my brain to ignore the entire subject. Unfortunately, this is how I have missed out on much of the 'latest' technical advancements in the last decade. So I will force myself to see how this all unfolds.

Ron-18
Ron-18

Installed it this afternoon, removed it this evening. Doesn't seem to work very well with W7-64-bit Pro. The new menu is nothing special, everything moved around (just for the sake of change?). Default installation would not allow me to log in to Facebook. I think I will continue with IE8 until they sort out the problems.

aluxh
aluxh

You wrote: "But IE9 has closed the gap impressively. It?s faster than Firefox across the board and faster than Chrome on tasks where hardware acceleration is involved." May I know which version of Chrome and Firefox you are comparing to? Not only Microsoft is coming out with a new version, everyone are... The only happy thing I see is... Microsoft is trying to fill up the gaps... and move closer to their competitors...

matt
matt

The performance improvements in IE9 are stunning. The integrated GPU processing when combined with HTML5/CSS3 effects is truly impressive even when using a relatively "weak" video card.

seanferd
seanferd

Just when I think MS might be heading in the right direction (just heading, mind you) with Windows, the Beast has to do something that furthers my inclination to chuck it entirely.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

not on my list of desirable devices. I barely want the cell phone I use... Nowhere near as personable as I appear. :|

lishchuk
lishchuk

Did you say "...the morons at the EU" ? I think the real morons are those who did nothing to break MS monopoly in North America. Can you buy a PC without MS Windows pre-installed? It is called monopoly. And This is very bad and deadly thing market wise. As a result of such monopoly, - any version of IE is slow, buggy, unsafe. As a web developer, I have to keep all major browsers available to test my web apps. That's why I know exactly that IE6,7,8 are always the slowest ones. I don't trust MS hype and don't expect any essential improvements in IE9. We'll see... What I cannot understand, why MS does not want to spend a small part of its billions $$ to hire a team of talented developers to rewrite this IE crap from scratch?

JCitizen
JCitizen

No wonder my clients with Office 2008 are getting their DSL connections clogged!

JCitizen
JCitizen

for this already, or at least I swear I was reading about it. Some flash files should render in IE9 without flash. Perhaps the site has to be coding for HTML-5 for that to work? It WOULD figure that Microsoft's own site wouldn't work with it! Sometimes Redmond can't even buy a clue!!!

JCitizen
JCitizen

HTML-5 does not need flash to render flash files. It may be a crude rendering but supposedly works, none-the-less. However that will not matter much as Adobe is already bragging about all the new features they will bring to Mozilla FFv4 and IE9.

PoppaTab
PoppaTab

I have no issues on my Win 7Pro x64 with the 32 and 64 bit versions of the IE 9beta. I like the 64bit version because it starts much faster than the 32bit. In fairness; I use Chrome as default, but it mucks up the site while IE 9 doesn't (this site). IE 9beta is a real improvement.

tonious
tonious

U are lying, Ron-18. Is it difficult for you to accept the facts? I'm more than impressed with ie9 beta. All orher browsers on my pc have been UNinstalled. Just like in the old days, one browser, will do. And the winner is ie9 beta (just imagine, it's only beta). The final release will be awesome.

Craig_B
Craig_B

I have only been using IE9 Beta (on W7 Ent x64) for a day however I'm not really crazy about it. Several sites would not open or crashed the tab in IE9 which would recover but these are all sites that worked fine with IE8. I compared basic performance of IE9 Beta with Firefox 3.6.9 and tested my normal sites and even the IE9 demo site and found very little difference. FF was a tad slower on some things but not enough to make a real difference. On most sites IE9 would open with a blank white screen for a second or two and then the site would pop completely loaded. I?m not crazy about the new UI, if I wanted that style I would have used Chrome, I like the IE8 style better. I guess part of that is I?m in the 8% up opens up a bunch of tabs, now I only have ? the space for tabs. Why can all browsers simply give you options of how the UI is presented, they could have a Minimal look, Medium look or Full look options if not just allowing you to turn on/off windows or being able to drag and drop them. IE 9 Beta did steal some features from FF and Chrome; the UI that I mentioned and from FF the download manager. I realize IE9 is in beta and has a lot of work to do but after all the hoopla I?m quit unimpressed.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm also running W7 64 Pro. Thanks for saving me the time. Besides Facebook, what otehr problems did you notice?

dirtylaundry
dirtylaundry

I am not alone in the creepy uneasiness tingling my spine at the *utilizing the whole PC* I have been using Ubuntu on 4 of my 6 computers for the past yr (for some reason my Acer Travelmate 290 CL51 doesn't let me install it as the only OS - if anyone has a clue let me know. The BIOs won't read a USB on bootup btw and the CD Live stops short of an actual full install). I am looking forward to the next version coming out in a few weeks. Unlike many, I have enjoyed Vista Ultimate 64bit for a yr now on my beast of a machine - and I did enjoy the RC Win 7 for a while on a tester box, just couldn't justify the need to shell out the bucks for Win 7 w/o hubby toying w the idea of a divorce ;) If I am feeling greedy for browser space on my 24inch LCD, I just hit F11 and I, too, have multi tabs up when I work (more than one window is a clutter imo). I want a recount on M$'s polls :P

seanferd
seanferd

Your wrap-up statement is wickedly funny, even if I don't know you. All the reasons you list are good. My thinking is more along the lines of keeping the OS and browser separate, as well as keeping some definition between what is local and what is remote, whether it is data or an application. People have enough trouble with this already. You know, such as those who think their computer is the internet, or Windows is the computer, or that Office is Windows, or who think a whole computer is referred to as "hard drive" or "CPU"... They operate at this level of abstraction which is actually broken, and which makes communicating with them to troubleshoot problems exceedingly difficult, but to whom these seamlessly-integrated appliance salesmen are marketing their wares. On a code level, modularity will always be better than seamlessly-integrated, both for maintenance and security reasons, and probably other reasons as well. Plus, I just don't get the concept of "web applications" which actually run almost entirely client-side. Idiots! I see and pay attention to the man behind the emperor's new curtains. (To mix metaphors.) Aye, some things should be kept separate, as long as we are still using the stored-program computing paradigm.

dirtylaundry
dirtylaundry

Because *seamless integration* brings to mind the following examples: 5.Monitors with built-in speakers- if the speakers break, the entire unit has to be sent back or dismantling the entire thing is necessary to fix them. 4.Ditto w Multi-function printers/copiers - so many housecalls due to one of the functions no longer working...such a headache. 3. TVs w built-in DVDs *sigh* 2. & of course my favorite (HA!) all-in-one computers. And the number one reason *seamless integration* sounds evil: Security nightmare potential. Some things should be separate for the sake of sanity & practicality (like me and my first husband). ;)

seanferd
seanferd

We have two winners. Sometimes, I just don't like seamless integration. And something about web apps outside of a private network bothers me, as does the mobile browsing experience. (And mobile users whinging at websites that don't display to their satisfaction on their current device.)

lishchuk
lishchuk

75%-80% of market share usually triggers antitrust law cases MS has about 90% Same sad story is currently happening with Google. It seems to be dictating all search-engine rules. Absence of competition leads from poor quality of products/services to complete stagnation. In contrast, today's mobile gadgets market is called oligopoly.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Sure. Mac, for one. You need to shop somewhere besides the 'big box' retailers. Go to the web or 'mom and pop' shops and get exactly what you want, including Linux or 'bare metal' systems without any OS. "...why MS does not want to spend a small part of its billions $$ to hire a team of talented developers to rewrite this IE crap from scratch?" Because IE is so deeply integrated into Windows now that doing so would require rewriting both. Tying them together was a horrible idea, but that's the reality Windows users are stuck with for the foreseeable future.

GreatZen
GreatZen

Of course you can buy PCs without Windows installed. Obviously, OSX is a popular choice; perhaps you've heard of it. Dell sold Linux loaded PCs for end users (not just servers) for years before discontinuing the practice citing it was too time consuming and resource intensive to make images for the one person who wanted it loaded. Although perhaps they should revisit the concept now in the era of more usable and popular distros for both install and desktop experience.

seanferd
seanferd

That was a rather ridiculous attack on you. Didn't bother with any specific challenge, just called you a liar. As if your story is somehow incredible. Yeesh. Just wait for the support forums to fill up on IE9. We'll see. (Like browsers don't have problems.)

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

It's fine to disagree but please avoid name calling. Attack ideas, not people. Our forums are fairly open and self-policing but personal attacks are the one thing that we don't accept. Consider this a warning and please avoid personal attacks in the future. Thanks.

Ron-18
Ron-18

Actually, I am not lying. That was my brief encounter with IE9. Except for testing purposes I use IE and have used every version as soon as it was available.. I am a Microsoft fanboy and make a living working almost exclusively with MS products and have since DOS 4.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

How do you know? You haven't seen his machine. Just because it runs on your system doesn't mean he isn't having problems.