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Internet Explorer 9 beta strips down for speed

September 15, 2010 10:40 AM ET

Double-duty address bar

IE9 has borrowed more than its tabs-at-the-top clean look from Chrome. To highlight the change, Microsoft has a new name for the address bar: One Box.

Whatever you call it, it works much like Chrome's: As you type, it searches through your browsing history and Favorites and displays matches, so you can more quickly find a site or launch a search by selecting what you want and pressing Enter. You can also type in a search term and press Enter, and it will perform a search using your default search engine.

Microsoft has added a twist to this feature to protect your privacy. If you want, as you type, your search provider can look at what you're typing, and suggest likely matches. By default, this behavior is turned off, so that keystrokes aren't sent. However, you can turn on the feature if you don't mind your keystrokes being sent to the search engine.

Taking control of add-ons

When you run add-ons in a browser, they can slow down your browser's performance. IE9 has tackled that problem with a new feature that other browsers would do well to emulate. If IE9 detects that you've got add-ons that might slow down your browser, it pops open a notification bar at the bottom of your screen.

Click "Disable add-ons" and a screen appears that lists the add-on name, manufacturer and an estimate of the time that each add-on contributes to the delay when starting IE, opening a new tab or navigating to a Web site. You can then disable any of the add-ons to speed up browsing.

To Microsoft's credit, it lists its own add-ons as well. In this way, you can make an informed decision about whether an add-on's features are worth the performance hit you take by running it.

To turn an add-on back on, you click the Tools icon, select Manage Add-ons, choose "All add-ons" from the drop-down box on the left side of the screen, highlight the add-on you want to turn back on and select Enable.

This is an excellent feature that Mozilla, in particular, should consider adding. Power users often wonder what kind of performance hit Firefox takes because of its add-ons.

The new notification bar does more than just warn you about add-ons that may impact the browser's performance. It also pops up when the browser takes an action such as blocking pop-ups, and issues other types of warnings or requests.

IE9
You can disable any add-ons that may delay your browser.
Click to view larger image.

This can be helpful if you visit a Web page that contains both secure and nonsecure content on a Web page -- for example, an online store or financial site that uses an https/SSL secure connection but also displays ads, images or scripts from a non https-server. IE9 warns you that it is displaying only secure content, and it lets you display both types of content by clicking the "Show all content" button.

The problem with this security notification is that you can't tell it to always display secure and nonsecure information on a site you visit that you know is safe. The notification will appear every time you visit the site, and you'll have to click the button each time.



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