Yesterday Microsoft announced the release candidate of Internet Explorer 9, which is very close to the final product. Here’s a screenshot tour of the most interesting new stuff, as well as answers to your questions.
The most important question is should you install this version? And the answer is absolutely yes. Even if you don’t use IE, it’s better to have a newer, more secure version on your PC.
What’s New Under the Hood in Release Candidate vs Beta?
If you want to see the full list of changes with all the original marketing detail, you can read Microsoft’s Beauty of the Web page, but here’s the highlights that you might be interested in.
- Improved Performance – they’ve made a lot of changes, and it really feels faster, especially when using more intensive web apps like Gmail.
- UI Changes – The tab bar can now be moved below the address bar (see below for more), they’ve shaved some pixels off the design to save space, and now you can toggle the Menu bar to be always on.
- Pinned Sites – now you can pin multiple pages to a single taskbar button. Very useful if you always use a couple web apps together. You can also pin a site in InPrivate mode.
- FlashBlock and AdBlock are Integrated (sorta) – there’s a new ActiveX filtering that lets you enable plug-ins only for sites you trust. There’s also a tracking protection list that can block certain content (which can obviously be used to block ads).
- Geolocation – while a lot of privacy conscious people might complain about this, if you use your laptop while traveling, it’s really useful to have geo-located features when using Google Maps, etc. Don’t worry, it won’t leak your privacy by default.
- WebM Video – Yeah, Google recently removed H.264 from Chrome, but Microsoft has added Google’s WebM video format to Internet Explorer.
Keep reading for more about using the new features.
You probably want to get to the screenshots, but first, here’s a couple of answers to questions you haven’t asked yet.
- No, Internet Explorer 9 does not work on Windows XP.
- Yes, you can install IE9 over top of the beta version if you had that installed.
- Yes, If you have 32-bit Windows, you should install the 32-bit version.
- Yes, If you have 64-bit Windows, you should install the 64-bit version (which includes the 32-bit version). Not sure? Here’s how to see what version of Windows you have.
- Yes, you should upgrade to this version.
- Yes, if you click this link it will take you to the download page.
Again, even if you don’t use IE as your primary browser, it’s better to have this new, more secure browser than smelly old IE8.
Now You Can Move the Tabs Below the Address Bar (Again)
The biggest problem with IE9 for most power users is that the tabs and the address bar are on the same row, which quickly turns your tabs into tiny little unusable tab-lets. Did I just write that?
Now you can simply right-click on the tab bar to move the tabs to a separate row.
And now you’ll have a lot more space. The impressive thing is that even with the change to use two rows, it’s still pretty compact compared to other browsers.
Sadly there’s no option to put the tabs up top.
Pinning Multiple Sites Together
This new feature is slightly confusing at first, so we’ll walk you through it—imagine first that you’ve pinned a site to your taskbar, by simply dragging the site’s icon down to the taskbar. Easy.
Now browse to another URL in that window, and then right-click on the icon on the left-hand side, and choose “Add as a home page”. This will add that page as well, so the next time you open up that pinned site, it will open both.
The much simpler method, however, is to just go to the Tools icon on the right-hand side of IE’s tab bar, choose Internet Options, and then put the URLs you want in there.
You’ll notice that both of the ones that I added are now in here.
How to Enable “FlashBlock”
Internet Explorer has a pretty useful feature that blocks any ActiveX controls from running except for sites you specify them on—since the only plugin required for most sites is Flash, that essentially makes this a FlashBlock feature.
Just head to the Tools icon on the right of the tab bar, then Safety –> ActiveX Filtering. That’s it.
Now the next time you go to a site that needs Flash, click the little circle with the line through it, and turn off ActiveX Filtering for that site.
I really wish this feature was in Google Chrome, and every other browser.
Enabling Tracking Protection (Possibly Ad Blocking)
You can enable the Tracking Protection feature through the same menu as the previous feature, and once you do, it will pop up the Manage Add-ons screen, where you can select the “Your Personalized List” item on the right.
Once you do, you can enable it, or click Settings to see more.
Under here you can choose to automatically block everything, or just choose the content you want to block. It’ll show the most frequently used stuff, and let you block it. If you aren’t seeing enough there, adjust the 10 down to 3, and you’ll see more.
Tweaking Performance for Battery Life
To tweak the power / performance settings, head into Power Options –> Edit Plan Settings –> Change advanced power settings, and then scroll down to the bottom of the window.
Now you can configure the settings if you want, though we’d advise just leaving them be.
Go forth, and download it.