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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I am really excited for IE9, this browser has the potential to change the net for a lot of developers. If most people come from ie7/ie8 to it, developing websites will be so much easier and if people switch to ie6 that would just be amazing.

M$ just re wrote the discription of KB2120976 and now it reads"an Internet Explorer 9 platform preview build" instead of a beta.

and "A new JS engine (codenamed Chakra)"
some of the devs must be watching Naruto lately...

RenegadeJr said,

yes! +1
Or Chrome Extensions, Themes

I actually suggested this in the suggestion program. However, they said that they had set it aside for the next version. I am not sure how true that is (in what way I mean).

Does the Beta mark signify a feature freeze? For example, if the Beta still doesn't support box shadow or border image does that mean that we wont see these in IE for 3 years?

geoken said,
Does the Beta mark signify a feature freeze? For example, if the Beta still doesn't support box shadow or border image does that mean that we wont see these in IE for 3 years?

Feature freeze usually occurs at RC stage

I'd adore IE9 if Microsoft have designed a 'Metro' type interface for it, but I bet they haven't. Either way, I hope it looks nice and is much more customisable than previous versions.

Calum said,
I'd adore IE9 if Microsoft have designed a 'Metro' type interface for it, but I bet they haven't. Either way, I hope it looks nice and is much more customisable than previous versions.

I can't see them using Metro for something like IE. I could be wrong, but I don't think that it is a good fit for a web browser. Any thoughts?

winlonghorn said,

I can't see them using Metro for something like IE. I could be wrong, but I don't think that it is a good fit for a web browser. Any thoughts?

I doubt there will be a metro interface; it is a non-existant entity just like 'Aero Diamond' and 'Mac OS X Marble'. I'd probably say at the most it'll have a slightly tweaked Internet Explorer 8 interface but nothing spectacular. Their main focus is on their big enterprise customers first and foremost.

rawr_boy81 said,

I doubt there will be a metro interface; it is a non-existant entity just like 'Aero Diamond' and 'Mac OS X Marble'. I'd probably say at the most it'll have a slightly tweaked Internet Explorer 8 interface but nothing spectacular. Their main focus is on their big enterprise customers first and foremost.

I think that you are right. I believe that they realize now that they need to keep things simplified rather than try to pump out all kinds of eye candy. Although, it doesn't have to be fancy to be based off of WPF either. I do think that they will use WPF for it.

rawr_boy81 said,

I doubt there will be a metro interface; it is a non-existant entity just like 'Aero Diamond' and 'Mac OS X Marble'. I'd probably say at the most it'll have a slightly tweaked Internet Explorer 8 interface but nothing spectacular. Their main focus is on their big enterprise customers first and foremost.

Aero Diamond was in the early plans for Vista (not 7) and would have been a UI level above common Aero; however, that would have required DX 10 hardware support. How long did it take DX10 to get off the deck in terms of general acceptance? (That is completely aside from the non-acceptance of Vista compared to XP, even though Vista did not bomb in terms of sales.) Aero Diamond was, in fact, *planned* to be based on WPF (not GDI+, as Aero in Vista was, and Aero in 7 still is). The issue for WPF is that it and GDI+ also must co-exist, as there are some devices that are not, and never will be, WPF-capable (GPUs in some portable computers *other* than netbooks, for example), and some devices that can be upgraded simply to support WPF.

The beta won't necessarily be feature-frozen, any more than was the case for *any* version of IE; since IE 2.x, every version of IE gained at least one major feature over its code life. Also, IE 8's UI isn't a bad UI; it could stand some tweaks, though.

I'm looking forward to IE9. Someone suggested that IE9 UI might foretell what Windows 8 will look like. I highly doubt that they would show their hand this early.

I'm looking forward to this too, and I bet it'll be WPF orientated to. With VS 2010 being made into WPF I wouldn't be surprised.

Regards,
David.

dave164 said,
I'm looking forward to this too, and I bet it'll be WPF orientated to. With VS 2010 being made into WPF I wouldn't be surprised.

Regards,
David.

WPF has actually been planned for a while (going back before Vista went into beta, actually). The issue, as with most of the modern technologies that were planned (and in some cases previewed) in the Vista timeframe (and were widely accepted in 7) is classic chicken-and-egg; someone (usually Microsoft) has to lay the groundwork. WPF is very much DX-based, and requires a minimum set of capabilities to work. And while Metro is certainly usable for IE (Metro is a UI and has nothing to do with a browser engine), it may be a poor fit from a screen-format POV (the common screen format has changed from IE 6 - most displays are widescreen (not 4:3)) - Metro is geared more toward screens longer from top to bottom than they are wide (such as media players and most phones; it's also why Metro is *not* used by KIN).

There may well be a version of IE 9 for Metro-UI devices (such as Zune or WP7), though.

I am kind of looking forward to this. I want to know if they've finally got something right. Wonder what it's going to offer to compete with Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera

I'm slightly curious about IE 9. Don't think it will be as good as the fanbois think, yet they will be screaming at the top of their lungs that it is, no matter what.
I'm curious as to what new the IE team can bring to the browser landscape. They have A LOT to pay for, most of all those 5+ years when the IE devs did absolutely nothing, if there even were any devs for all those years! I'm hoping they do well with IE 9, but I fear they won't.

Frankenchrist said,
I'm slightly curious about IE 9. Don't think it will be as good as the fanbois think, yet they will be screaming at the top of their lungs that it is, no matter what.
I'm curious as to what new the IE team can bring to the browser landscape. They have A LOT to pay for, most of all those 5+ years when the IE devs did absolutely nothing, if there even were any devs for all those years! I'm hoping they do well with IE 9, but I fear they won't.

The problem for MS is that IE's reputation is still affected by what people experienced with IE6. Kind of like how Hotmail's rep is still tied to the craptastic, old MSN Hotmail

lordcanti86 said,

The problem for MS is that IE's reputation is still affected by what people experienced with IE6. Kind of like how Hotmail's rep is still tied to the craptastic, old MSN Hotmail

that is why they rebrand it to "live mail"

dimithrak said,
I hope its a new UI.. and fast!

It will be fast for sure!
I just hope the UI is something UNLIKE IE6, 7 or 8 -- hate them all ;-)

I reckon there will be Dev Preview 3 first, then beta. They had alot of standards missing in preview 2, i highly doubt they have added them already and made it stable enough to call it beta in less than 2 months.

I'll test the next build tho and see how standards support has improved, html5 video tag will be in the next build which will be nice to play with.

What did they do with Internet Explorer 7 and 8? Will they Follow the Same pattern? And will it be a public beta?

ObiWanToby said,
The Firefox 4 concepts looks so beautiful, it will be hard to beat.

You mean the UI they more or less copied from Opera 10.5 which also more or less copied Chrome? Sure, maybe it is hard to beat but then again it doesn't look like anyone has really tried to.

GP007 said,

You mean the UI they more or less copied from Opera 10.5 which also more or less copied Chrome? Sure, maybe it is hard to beat but then again it doesn't look like anyone has really tried to.

Chrome does look nice, but I really do not see how it looks like the concepts. I do see the connection between Opera and the concepts though. Opera is a quirky browser though. No one seems to support them fully, so I consider them irrelevant. Their browser does look pretty good though.

ObiWanToby said,
The Firefox 4 concepts looks so beautiful, it will be hard to beat.

it's so beautiful to beat but it's already used by opera )

ObiWanToby said,
The Firefox 4 concepts looks so beautiful, it will be hard to beat.

IE 9 will have exactly... one look, and it won't be skinnable.

Frankenchrist said,

IE 9 will have exactly... one look, and it won't be skinnable.

You don't know that for sure, do you?

GP007 said,

You mean the UI they more or less copied from Opera 10.5 which also more or less copied Chrome? Sure, maybe it is hard to beat but then again it doesn't look like anyone has really tried to.

Of course, there's always at least ONE whiny Opera fanboy who wants the world to believe that software interfaces are totally unique and should not be even remotely adapted by anyone else. no one uses Opera in comparsion to Firefox, so don't worry, no one will notice. When you stop bitching and whining to the EU to force Windows to make new users pick a different browser, then you'll be respected. Till then, stuff it, thanks.

So damn sick of hearing the comment "you mean what Opera's already done blah blah blah". OMFG YOUR USING A GRAPHICAL OPERATING SYSTEM!?!?!? YOU MEAN, LIKE SOMETHING X COMPANY DID AGES AND AGES AGO? OMFG THEY CAN'T DO THAT ONLY X COMPANY GETS TO DO THAT GARWWRRRR"

GP007 said,

You mean the UI they more or less copied from Opera 10.5 which also more or less copied Chrome? Sure, maybe it is hard to beat but then again it doesn't look like anyone has really tried to.

Of course, there's always at least ONE whiny Opera fanboy who wants the world to believe that software interfaces are totally unique and should not be even remotely adapted by anyone else. no one uses Opera in comparsion to Firefox, so don't worry, no one will notice. When you stop bitching and whining to the EU to force Windows to make new users pick a different browser, then you'll be respected. Till then, stuff it, thanks.

So damn sick of hearing the comment "you mean what Opera's already done blah blah blah". OMFG YOUR USING A GRAPHICAL OPERATING SYSTEM!?!?!? YOU MEAN, LIKE SOMETHING X COMPANY DID AGES AND AGES AGO? OMFG THEY CAN'T DO THAT ONLY X COMPANY GETS TO DO THAT GARWWRRRR"

LiquidSolstice said,
Of course, there's always at least ONE whiny Opera fanboy who wants the world to believe that software interfaces are totally unique and should not be even remotely adapted by anyone else. no one uses Opera in comparsion to Firefox, so don't worry, no one will notice. When you stop bitching and whining to the EU to force Windows to make new users pick a different browser, then you'll be respected. Till then, stuff it, thanks.

So damn sick of hearing the comment "you mean what Opera's already done blah blah blah". OMFG YOUR USING A GRAPHICAL OPERATING SYSTEM!?!?!? YOU MEAN, LIKE SOMETHING X COMPANY DID AGES AND AGES AGO? OMFG THEY CAN'T DO THAT ONLY X COMPANY GETS TO DO THAT GARWWRRRR"

+1

I don't care if an organisation copies anything, all I care about is whether the final product suits my needs. If they see a good idea and can tweak it to make it even better - then do it. I do wish people were a little less religious about their computing.

Frankenchrist said,

IE 9 will have exactly... one look, and it won't be skinnable.

That was said about the last two versions of IE. Surprise; they (like IE 6) are skinnable.

Not only has IE (from 6 up) remained skinnable, there are skins for IE that aren't available for the rest of Windows.

LiquidSolstice said,

Of course, there's always at least ONE whiny Opera fanboy who wants the world to believe that software interfaces are totally unique and should not be even remotely adapted by anyone else. no one uses Opera in comparsion to Firefox, so don't worry, no one will notice. When you stop bitching and whining to the EU to force Windows to make new users pick a different browser, then you'll be respected. Till then, stuff it, thanks.

So damn sick of hearing the comment "you mean what Opera's already done blah blah blah". OMFG YOUR USING A GRAPHICAL OPERATING SYSTEM!?!?!? YOU MEAN, LIKE SOMETHING X COMPANY DID AGES AND AGES AGO? OMFG THEY CAN'T DO THAT ONLY X COMPANY GETS TO DO THAT GARWWRRRR"

You need to stepback and calm the fdown ok? I was point the simple fact out that FF4 isn't anything new. You're the one who sounds like a whiny FireFox fanboy now. I'm so tired of hearing people moan when you bring up how something matches something else, oh booo hooo. I never said they shouldn't copy each other did I?

Stop jumping to stupid conclusions about others, till then, stuff it, thanks!

GP007 said,

You need to stepback and calm the fdown ok? I was point the simple fact out that FF4 isn't anything new. You're the one who sounds like a whiny FireFox fanboy now. I'm so tired of hearing people moan when you bring up how something matches something else, oh booo hooo. I never said they shouldn't copy each other did I?

Stop jumping to stupid conclusions about others, till then, stuff it, thanks!

Ha. Firefox fanboy, eh? Nah, see, I'm part of the generation that finds it pathetic to place loyalites in a web browser when what I want in the end is a means to get to my goal.

It doesn't matter what you point out, as far as Firefox users are concerned, its new for them, so do us a favor and !*** off with your Opera trolling. Thanks. I don't go on all the Opera news threads saying "omg ur browser sucks lol", do I? So again, please just stuff it.

They recently remade the UI of Visual Studio in WPF, so I definitely think it could happen now that they've started getting major products out.

bbfc_uk said,
Let's hope so - would like to see what they have done with the UI.

It's clear that the UI has been redone, but to add to it I think it's been redone in WPF instead of the older way. It should be nice to see what they've come up with, a IE9 beta, even if it's months away from RTM is something i'd probably use right away.

robert_dll said,
why do many people think that Ribbon is useful anywhere?

Because ribbon is good for some things but terrible for others; unfortunately some seam to take a novel idea and abuse it for all its worth. Its like Flash and people who have obnoxious splash screens to their website.

I hope they don't go down the route and have a ribbon interface given that it takes up far too much screen space which would irritate many users who are on netbooks and 13.3inch laptops.