Microsoft planning Internet Explorer 9 beta soon?

Microsoft may be ready to issue a beta of Internet Explorer 9 if hints in a recent hotfix are anything to go by.

The software giant issued a Windows 7 update on Tuesday "to support features in Internet Explorer 9 Beta". The update (KB2120976) resolves some streaming issues that relate to Media Foundation in Windows 7. Microsoft has released two developer preview versions of Internet Explorer 9 so far, both without a full user interface. Microsoft has promised new developer previews every eight weeks, the last preview version was released on May 5.

Based on the eight week schedule, another developer preview is due at the end of June. However, could this be a beta version of Internet Explorer 9 rather than a developer preview? Microsoft originally began scouting for Internet Explorer 9 beta testers in March. In an email to testers, Justin Saint Clair - Program Manager of Internet Explorer invited testers to join a "select group of IE9 Tech Feedback participants."

Microsoft originally unveiled Internet Explorer 9 at PDC 2009. IE 9 will take advantage of the power of the GPU for all page rendering and developers can exploit this using CSS, DHTML and javascript. A new JS engine (codenamed Chakra) will also be built into Internet Explorer 9 with greater interoperability and standards support all round. Features such as rounded corner CSS support will be built in. In January, Neowin revealed that Microsoft is planning to enhance tabbed browsing in IE9. According to a software patent, the Quick Tabs feature in Internet Explorer is likely to be enhanced with better functionality and greater tab management options.

Microsoft is also planning broader support for HTML5 in Internet Explorer 9 through its new script engine. Neowin has reached out to Microsoft officials for comments on the hotfix but at the time of writing we have not received a response.

Update: Microsoft has responded indicating that the wording was a mistake. The hotfix wording now states the patch is for an "upcoming release of an Internet Explorer 9 platform preview build". According to sources familiar with Microsoft's IE9 plans, the software giant will be issuing a beta release in August.

Thanks to Imran Hussain for the news tip

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