Microsoft ships IE9 beta, pushes Web, not browser

Leaving out Windows XP users is 'major shortcoming,' says analyst

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Most of that loss has gone to Chrome, Google's two-year-old browser. According to the latest statistics from Web measurement firm Net Applications, Chrome accounted for 7.5% of all browsers in use in August. Mozilla's Firefox owned a 22.9% share, while all versions of IE combined for a 60.4% share.

Microsoft hopes IE9 will turn that around.

Reviews of the new beta have been upbeat. Computerworld's Preston Gralla, for example, said the beta "puts IE back as a major competitor in the browser wars."

Gralla singled out IE9's performance as one reason why Microsoft is back in the game. "With IE9, Microsoft has fixed one of Internet Explorer's biggest drawbacks -- speed," he said.

Microsoft has pinned much of IE9's speed on hardware acceleration, which shunts some page-construction chores to the PC's graphics processor. "Web sites can offer richer experiences because of hardware acceleration," Hachamovitch said.

But competitors, especially Mozilla, have taken exception to Microsoft's claims. Last week, Aza Dotzler, Mozilla's chief technology evangelist, said, "We are faster and we were first" at adding acceleration.

The IE9 beta is available in 33 languages -- 29 localized versions, and another four when the Language Interface Pack is installed -- and in versions for Windows Vista, Windows 7, Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2.

Installing the beta overwrites existing copies of IE7 or IE8, but users can return to their original browsers by uninstalling IE9 through the Control Panel.

IE9 is available from Microsoft's download center for Vista/Server 2008 and Windows 7/Server 2008 R2, or from its IE9 site.

Versions for 32- and 64-bit editions of Windows are available separately.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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