Browser

Review: Microsoft Internet Explorer 9

Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 is now available. Mark Kaelin puts the Web browser through its paces and shares his review.

In years past, the release of a new Web browser was a big deal as various competitors fought for market share. However, in the past few years, the browser wars seem to have fallen into a kind of cold war, with market share among the players holding relatively steady.

This status quo has occurred despite the fact that the Web browser has become one of the most important applications for an Internet-connected world. This is why Microsoft's release of Internet Explorer 9 this week is so important to so many market players.

See what Internet Explorer 9 looks like in the TechRepublic Gallery: First Look: Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 final version.

And while Internet Explorer 9 works well and has several fine new features, it also asks users to change the way they think about Web sites. The ultimate success of IE9 may very well hinge on Microsoft's ability to convince users to accept this change in thinking as a more "beautiful" way to experience the World Wide Web.

NOTE: Internet Explorer 9 does not work with Windows XP at all.

Specifications

Operating system: Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2. IE9 is available for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows.

What I like

Despite what you may have read from haters on Internet forums, Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 is a serviceable Web browser. Microsoft has put some concentrated effort in the backend-rendering engine to take advantage of modern multicore CPUs, and other technologies, to increase display speed.

IE9 also supports a cleaner, more minimalistic look and feel that closely mirrors the cleaner look and feel of one of its major competitors -- Chrome. By moving tabs for open Web pages to a line parallel to the address bar, Microsoft provides more room for the actual display of the Web page itself. I prefer much less toolbar real estate myself, so this is helpful.

What I don't like

Over the years, I have developed a huge list of bookmarked links that I carry with me from browser to browser. It is my preferred method of browser navigation. And, since it is so important to me, I like to have easy access to that list. IE9 places the icon linking to that list up in the right-hand corner in the form of a very small icon. I don't like it there. I feel like I have to hunt for my list of bookmarks. And pinning the list of bookmarks to the side of the display window takes up too much real estate to be useful. I'd like more options.

However, Microsoft has a reason for doing this -- they are attempting to change user behavior when it comes to Web site links. Because IE9 is integrated so closely with the Windows 7 operating system, Microsoft would like you to look at Web sites as applications not destinations. This change of thinking is possible and encouraged because with IE9 you can pin Website links to the Windows Taskbar like you would any application.

This is one of those features that I can see some benefit to if you use your browser to access Web-based applications for productive purposes. For example, at TechRepublic we have many browser-based applications that we have to access every day, and having those handy on the Taskbar makes sense (if we weren't still stuck using XP on our workstations).

But for general users who have links to 10 World of Warcraft-related Websites, plus several for tracking their fantasy sports teams, plus several more news sites, plus links to The Onion, and who knows what else, the Taskbar is going to get crowded very quickly. An organized list of favorite bookmarks would seem to be a better choice to me.

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Special features

  • New Tab page: Select a new tab in IE9 and you get a page of suggested Website links based on your browsing history. While this is a good idea, it is also a feature that Chrome has had for some time.
  • One box search and address: The search box and the address bar are one in the same. Type a search in the box and your default search engine will return your results.
  • Pinned sites: Drag the address of a Website from the address bar to the Taskbar and you can pin it there so it is available next time.
  • Windows 7 integration: Internet Explorer 9 integrates with Windows 7 operating system with regard to features like snap and jump lists for pinned Websites on the Taskbar.
  • InPrivate Browsing: By entering into the InPrivate Browsing mode, a user can surf the Web without creating a browsing history, temporary Internet files, or form data or retaining cookie information.

Competition

Bottom line

Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 is a good browser with some nice features that certainly deserve your consideration; however, it is not a revolutionary jump in browser technology that will forever change the way we interact with the Internet.

As you might expect, IE9 makes several improvements to standards established by Internet Explorer 8; however, it also makes several changes that some users may not take to right away. Getting users to change engrained behavior can be a dubious proposition.

I, for one, am not excited by some of the new features. In fact, I have found some of them annoyingly disconcerting. Only time will tell if my initial reaction is won over by the new features found in Internet Explorer 9, but I am willing to give it a try. Perhaps you should too.

User rating

What do you think of Microsoft Internet Explorer 9? Have you tried it? What, specifically, do you not like about IE9? (And don't just say it's because it's Microsoft -- offer some facts to back it up.) What do you like?

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

150 comments
palermop
palermop

I use Roundcube (RC) and Thunderbird. Recently I had my laptop into the Geek Squad to add memory, install Norton and clean it up. Well they upgraded me from IE8 to IE9. After spending many hours trying to figure out why in RC I could no longer foward an edited email. It would always be received as the orignal email text without the edit info. A light came on and the tech removed IE9 . When back into RC and viola I was able to send the edited email. He couldn't explain why but I am happy it now work.

kevvybtr
kevvybtr

Although I quite like this, I will not use it as I prefer to type in my addresses for many sites for security reasons. So I will continue to keep my search seperate. Also I think it's easier to review the results of suggested search results in the main browser window. Having used Opera and FF, IE9 is tempting me back. I like the minimalist look. For others in the family who use my machine, the IE9 active x filtering implementation is less daunting than NoScript in FF even if less configurable.

joy64
joy64

Rendering of pages still not corrected. Tired of messing with the browser just to be able to cruise the net. Back to Chrome.

jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376
jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376

After a couple months review I decided to go back to IE 8. The company I work for does not really support it yet, the speed is not better then IE8 (in my opinion). The bookmarks also are a issue for me. No, I don't want to take up space in my Taskbar with all my Pinned sites. Although I like IE9 new safety features and its somewhat better rendering. Its compatibility with some sites left me with no option but to revert to IE 8 for a while more.

Flintstoner
Flintstoner

I really liked IE9 and all its simple features. It is faster than IE8. But I did switch back to 8. On IE9 if watching a video decided to move on to something else, the video continued downloading, you could close tab, turn IE9 off, download continued anyway. you had to wait for video to finish or reboot computer.

nikthiemann
nikthiemann

Like novelty it's a change to the usual, "takes getting use to" different changes. So far I don't know if it's a FB hang or 9 but it is a bit slower= a lot slower....maybe more for crapola check as security? If it's slows any more going back to 8.

totoy_0121
totoy_0121

Some features of IE9 patterned after Google Chrome? I don't know which is the original one.

davidjbell
davidjbell

Anyone noticed that any sites pinned to the Task Bar using 64 bit IE9 open the 32 bit version of IE9 - why?

barny123
barny123

compare cpu loading of IE 9 & Firefox and you find IE 9 uses far less cpu and ram

vincent
vincent

My IE9 keeps crashing when everytime i open in OWA a email with pdf attachement.......

l1v
l1v

I've accidentally discovered Maxthon, and now i am using it a lot. Just try it, very fast and customizable.

Firenzi
Firenzi

It's a big mistake for MS (imho) they've left overboard all Win XP users. It's still used in a huge amount of companies and thus MS leaves all these people away and make them (like me & my colleagues, at least) angry of a one more unprepared step...

jm.reyes.0320
jm.reyes.0320

If you compare IE9 to other browsers what is the advantage of this product?

sebcoeggs
sebcoeggs

If you run Excel 2003 - 2007 spreadsheets & try to input a stock quote in the spreadsheet from MSN money it wont work. Microsoft tech support tried everything he could today & could not get it to work. I ran into this problem today my operating system is Windows 7. Had to go back to Explorer 8 over this problem.

howletrc
howletrc

I can't find a way to change the crap brown color of the tool bar, any suggestions???

martin.hazell
martin.hazell

I have given up trying tocopy text from webpage displayed with IE9 and paste into Word. It does not work. Revert to IE8, Chrome10 or Firefox and it works perfectly. Is this another aspect ofthe Windows Phone 7 Cut & Paste fiasco?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

How do you export pinned Favorites to other browsers? How do you import Bookmarks from other browsers to the Task Bar? Not that anyone would be interested in using another browser... :D

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm used to entering search terms in FF's search window and middle-clicking the Search icon. The middle-click presents my search results in a new tab. I can get used to having one bar for both URL and search terms, but how do I get the results in a new tab? I don't want search results to replace the page I'm currently viewing. I didn't think much of IE 8, preferring FF 3.x, but since we're an MS shop I'll have to support it sooner or later.

barny123
barny123

Only IE9 shows the fish demo correctly, although the demo will display in some other browsers, only in IE 9 does it run without stuttering

RTHJr
RTHJr

Since the menu bar is removed by default, it seems that short-cut keys are more needed now. Of course, you can always hit the ALT key to bring the menu bar up; but assigning short-cut keys would help. Example, if I wanted to manually assign a site to the Compatability List and so wanted to access the Compatility View settings.

nadeeja9
nadeeja9

Well yeah I thing you make some great points about the book marking, however with years of loathing the apps, its diffecult to look at it objectively, anyways, the browser crashed on my pc the first time I ran it, and yeah thats about sums it up for me. I am happily back to my chrome again : )

maszsam
maszsam

Microsoft makes bad operating systems (have trip bootable machines xp 7 and linux). I find Apple to be a joke as well, especially at its ridiculous price point. Linux works really well and foxfire is fine for it. Use XP to operate peripherals and 7 only to help customers trouble shoot. IE 8 was good if you are a child and want the bells and whistles. I guess after losing the law suit to Netscape and not being able to pirate their code anymore the hacks at MS are out in the cold.

bodeen657
bodeen657

The above article mentions in a highlighted sentence that IE9 doesn't work at all in XP...Whatttttttttttttttt....does MS not know that XP has more users than any of its present OS's...vista, now windows 7. Why not make an IE for xp users also..by the time 2014 which is the scheduled date that XP won't be supported or maybe even not function if MS so desires, comes around..i'm sure there will be other versions of IE..so make IE 9 for the mass's..include the older Operating Systems like XP..

tadair
tadair

In the very short time I used IE9, I found two bugs, neither of which seems to have a solution. 1 - All text on all websites seems to be BOLD. 2 - Shaded boxes sometimes "spill over" into the text for no apparent reason. I gave up and went back to IE8 and these problems went away. I have neither the time nor the desire to beta-test software that Microsoft claims to be "ready". I am a long-time IE user, but maybe it's time to start looking at the other options.

bobc4012
bobc4012

Perhaps Mark should talk to his co-workers. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes reviewed IE 9 (both 32 and 64 bit) and, with one exception (64 bit only), IE 9 performance was the worst - Chrome generally ran circles around it. Firefox, Opera and Safari were also much better performers - especially against the 32 bit version - and none require you to go buy a new machine (or Vista (gag) or Wn. 7). See Adrian's article at http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/ie9-vs-chrome-10-vs-firefox-4-rc-vs-opera-1101-vs-safari-5-the-big-browser-benchmark/11890?pg=6&tag=mantle_skin;content .

UtopiaBoy
UtopiaBoy

I downloaded IE 9 and switched from Chrome and am generally pleased. But I am encountering a bizarre situation that does not make sense. When I add a favorite, as per directions, and try to add a new folder to put it in, that process of adding the new folder takes up to a minute, during which time the browser is blackened, without a timer or explanation. What gives? Anyone else encountering that, what seems to be a bug?

falkeg
falkeg

Installed IE9 and could not believe how this pig brought my browsing almost to a standstill. I understand this is due to an embedded Java coding problem, but for whatever reason, I returned to IE8, Chrome and Opera 11, all of which work just fine.

jansley
jansley

I prefer to have a separate address bar. This combo bar does not take you to the address you have typed in but to multiples just like a search. Just one more step in the operation.

tuba2
tuba2

I certainly will have to agree with this view. Almost every time I exit a site I am informed that IE9 has stopped working. Then one must wait for it to restart before continuing work.

cabenton
cabenton

Microsoft needs to remember those of us heavily invested in XP ( I have three units with Windows XP). I voted that IE 9 was the worst browser because it totally ignores those of us who still like the way XP works.

carol.hogarth
carol.hogarth

It's certainly not a hugely different innovation, and I too find the favourites icon annoying up at the top right hand corner.

SuperSnail
SuperSnail

Believe it or not I liked it right up until my security software's Security Center wouldn't open and I couldn't get the latest 10.x.x.xx.32 version of Flash Player to install. I'll wait for a while longer.

h1476926
h1476926

I went back to IE 8 because I found that on some sites (CBS-news was one) that when I clicked on an news video (flash) it would not play, and it didn't show a player at all. At first, I thought it might only be a server problem, but that was not the case. I tried both 32 and 64 bit versions of IE 9 (Im useing Win. 7-pro.-64 bit). After doing a system restore back to IE 8, the web sites worked just fine and showed all video.

deadguy69
deadguy69

I refuse to use Bing to search it's tied to commercial sites that promote selling you something. Tried IE9 could not select my own search engine, hated the favorites on right. We are seriously considering a big change when they no longer support WinXP. We are going to refit the entire company with APPLES.

Beta Breaker
Beta Breaker

IE9 does not show the current Internet Zone on the status bar anymore. Now I can't easily tell what's going on security wise. The status bar now only shows zooming. Bad move MS...

jcrudden@chartermi.net
jcrudden@chartermi.net

Bank sites won't connect with IE9. But IE8, Chrome and Firefox will. HUH!! How do you fix this?

boblinde
boblinde

I am still leary of leaving IE8. Its been good to me, and if it ain't broke, why fix it?

RTHJr
RTHJr

When you type in a search in the URL / Search box, hit Alt+Enter instead of Enter. You will have a new tab then.

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

IE7 is a backport from Vista and not fully compatible with XP IE8 is also a backport from Vista / Win7 and not fully compatible with XP and both hosed a lot of "Designed for XP" labeled programs I refuse to install IE 7 or IE 8 on XP for this very reason: [b]every subsequent IE version breaks previous functionality and third party programs[/b] and the dreaded dialog: [b]this version of (x product) is not compatible with this version of windows. please contact your vendor for an updated version[/b] if I didn't change my windows version why the hell would I get that dialog after updating IE and or winders Media Player ???

mmunro
mmunro

If you read the article it says that the 64 bit version is the worst and "Im pleasantly surprised that IE9 32-bit actually aces the SunSpider test"

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

While Adrian and I both work for CBS Interactive, we have never actually met since he works for a different Web site, in a different state. Also, we review things with a different perspective. If you notice, he is concentrating on performance and running benchmarks, while am more concerned about usability and features. His review has no influence on mine and mine, I am certain, has no influence on his.

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

IE 7 broke a lot of XP stuff IE 8 broke more XP stuff as well both break multiple programs IE 9 on XP would probably hose every piece of third party code on yer box every new IE version breaks stuff from simple things to whole programs

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

XP. And when it is no longer supported what are you going to do? Continue using it anyways?

davidjbell
davidjbell

I'm using Adobe's 64 Flash Beta with very few problems on my Win 7 64 bit PC with IE9. Adobe's Flash Player website makes it VERY difficult to find this beta but I found the link using Google. It's version 10,3,162,28. Although installed it doesn't show-up in 'Manage add-ons'

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Since there is no 64-bit support to Flash [unless you have installed the beta], of course it won't work there. Try compatibility mode? Latest Flash installed? Reset IE's settings?

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

when you have other compatibility problems?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

This is interesting. It depends on your bank. I bank with USBank and IE9 worked fine with their online service even in beta. Banks are notoriously conservative, so it may take some time to adjust compatibility for IE9. Did you try the compatibility button, out of curiosity?

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