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Internet Explorer 9 RC Now Available: Here’s the Most Interesting New Stuff

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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.
  • Power Consumption Settings – since the JavaScript engine in any browser uses a lot of CPU power, they’ve now integrated it into the power settings, so if you’re on battery it will use less CPU, and save battery life. This is really a great change.
  • 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.

Questions You Might Have

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?

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Now you can simply right-click on the tab bar to move the tabs to a separate row.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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You should be careful with using the Automatic block here, because it appears to block some things required for certain sites to function, like common javascript libraries such as jQuery.

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.

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Now you can configure the settings if you want, though we’d advise just leaving them be.


Go forth, and download it.

Download Internet Explorer 9 Release Candidate from beautyoftheweb.com

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 02/11/11

Comments (58)

  1. Groff

    Not bad it takes a few visual cues from FF as well as Chrome. But what really shys me away from it (and why I use Chrome) is the nice bar of wasted screen space at the top. Even on my 21″ monitor i’m OCD about my free space, heh.

  2. RussianBoy

    IE was a shit, is a shit, and will be a shit, no matter what. Just because it’s IE. I personally stick with FF & Chrome – they are *easy* and more practical. IE is a “heavy” shit, overloaded with items.

  3. fireiwre

    i have a question.
    i know that i can install rc version on beta but i want to know how to remove beta version first(it not showing up in control panel->programs.
    ie9 is bloat but i want to try it after removing beta first.

  4. Terrance

    Hey fireiwre. You do not have to remove the beta version. The RC download and install does all the work. If however you change your mind and just want to remove Beta, go to add remove programs. On the left-hand side you will see installed updates or something to that effect. Find IE 9 in the list and click on it. This will uninstall it.

  5. John

    I’m guessing I will have to restart my computer to update? just wondering

  6. ADWheeler Photography

    Could never understand why TABS aren’t on the side. Like a file folder or book. Browsers are so stuck on themselves that they are so far outside the box they are missing the point all together.

  7. Pugsley42

    @ADWheeler – Because that’s where Opera put them as the first browser to ever use them. They’re playing catch up.

  8. Anomaly

    You said you wished that other browses had the flash block feature IE9 has. Well Chrome and Opera do. It’s called click to play. Both browsers will block Flash and other plugins from running and also give you an icon where the blocked content was supposed to be to click and play the blocked content if you want. Chrome also lets you white list sites.

  9. Irish_IT

    I am sure it has been said but Thank you IE for proving that you can not re-innovate your product as easy as you can make your product look like the competition (firefox, chrome,…etc.).

  10. Stubugs

    Seems just as unstable as the Beta version – crashes far too regularly for my liking

  11. thalajl

    I’m interested in the “Pinned Sites” feature, in particular, grouping the launch of several related sites with one click. I did a search on pinned sites and was taken to several advanced features but not grouping the launch of several items.

    PAX

  12. thenonhacker

    @Groff: I use Firefox, Chrome, and IE9 (in that priority).

    You should see this: http://articles.sitepoint.com/articleresources/2010-10-28-ricky-ie9/figures/metal.png

    IE9 has more frame space than any browser today.

  13. miki

    Not bad…

  14. JR Wright

    Hi. Running W7-32b with IE8. Wondering if folks that use their PC to bank online would have a problem should they upgrade to 9 or should they wait until banks confirm that 9 is usable with them. Also maybe someone could direct ‘russian boy’ towards an ‘outhouse’. Regards

  15. Mickr1

    hey guys, the man said IF you use IE.. this is better. For those anti IE peeps …carry on

  16. Hern

    Russian Boy needs a new interpreter!!!

  17. Terrance

    Hey John. Yeah, you will have to restart after a somewhat lengthy install. Also, for those of you who are interested, advanced searchbar works on IE 9 RC. Found this rather interesting considering how old the toolbar is. Once again, for those who care, you can download the timely addon from Cnet. Installation goes off without a hitch. Although IE does not admonish the use of web radio toolbar, advanced searchbar triggers the disable addons to speed up browser prompt.

  18. Loren

    Microslop still shows the beta as the current download. Why is the RC not available from them? Who is this “beauty of the web.com that they have it before MS? Sorry but I don’t trust a site that I don’t know.

  19. Rezwan

    I don’t know about others but I really don’t want to use the Grouped Buttons on the Taskbar for opening multiple tabs. Can the geeks help me out with that.

    Thanks for the article or otherwise the real power of the new IE9 would have been unknown to me.

  20. Kyle

    @Loren

    Beauty of the Web IS Microsoft. That’s their site, which they are using to promote IE9.

  21. RebateSense.com

    Isn’t the UI looks more of like Google Chrome? With the ability to push the tab bar down it seemingly looks like Google Chrome!

  22. Luis Matoso

    I like it a lot. Personal i do think it´s much more clean that any other browser. Firefox tends to be confuse with all the ad-in and extensions and get’s slow and chrome is no faster then IE9. Besides, the layout of IE9 is much more beautiful that the others.
    No doubt, i have been using firefox and chrome but now i’m going back to IE. God job.

  23. pandaSmore

    So does this release candidate fix the problem with sidebar.exe minimizing when you git show desktop?

  24. Buffet

    If it won’t work with XP, what good is it??? NONE!! Fix it and I might consider downloading it.

  25. xana452

    @buffet
    I dont think they know that still most PC users are still on XP, and will likely never upgrade to 7. Thats the only thing i never really like about MS. other than that, there the best of the best.

  26. Luis Matoso

    i think the people that are still using XP should try W7. Believe me, i have work with XP since the beginning but W7 is much, much, better then XP. You should try and i bet you gonna love it.

  27. wamarine

    Well, I like the lightness of IE 9 RC1,but honestly, whose idea was it to REMOVE the search bar from default install ?

    Does no one at M$, search for things ???

    Windows 7 64 user, and definitely not amused.

    thanks
    wamarine

  28. wamarine

    Specifically speaking, how do I ‘search’ the internet, like you can do in all other browsers, by just doing so in address bar ???

    thanks
    wamarine

  29. Luis Matoso

    wamarine
    just type the words in the adress bar and the sugestions will appear. Then all you have to do is choose in the sugestions the one more apropriate to your search.

  30. Day2Day

    Has anyone done a speed test on the RC yet?
    I was really happy with the results of the 9 beta, but I don’t know how it stacks up to the Firefox Beta or the Chrome Beta…

  31. Terrance

    Hey Day2Day. Just how accurate these tests are, remain a topic of debate. Softpedia has a brief article with speed results of the “big boy” browsers.

  32. Marco

    how to disable clear type in ie9 rc? it enabled automatically and the option to turn off ie9 is not in multimedia options anymore.

  33. veegertx

    Want the full version d/l. Select your language from here
    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/internet-explorer/downloads/ie-9/worldwide-languages

    I have to have for my work email looks better in IE which is about all I use it for except downloading WU to inject into my install image
    Still the only browser can save .mht which is very handy. I say only cause haven’t used none of the rest. Firefox is my main

  34. wamarine

    @LuisMatoso,

    attempting to search for ign , wants to goto their forums for example, but I dont want forums, I want the root website. Is the RC slightly buggy in regards to this feature I wonder ?

    What I mean is , it never offers: http://www.ign.com , for example, and it should.

    Is it because of imported bookmarks causing it try to preload forums instead of the root website location ?

    Searching for ways to customize this feature , and Im not seeing anything useful atm.

    thx
    wamarine

  35. wamarine

    @luismatoso,

    EDIT EDIT EDIT: Okay I figured it out..I do not recall doing this, but in case I did sorry.
    Somehow ‘ search in address bar’ was not checked’, and when I enabled it, it did gave me the real
    IGN root website, so all seems to be fine.

    Thx again
    wamarine

  36. mhwhitehead

    I was disappointed with IE9 RC. The feedback tool doesn’t seem to be working. The 64bit version doesn’t open at all. The gadgets don’t hide when I do show desktop (Win+D) just like in bad old IE8. This is extremely irritating. In good old IE9 beta the gadgets correctly hide upon Win+D and don’t hide upon Win+M. :(

  37. WebHead

    OK, how about a report on one MAJOR feature of IE9 RC that was obviously missed … web page rendering! Did they decide to add in full support for HTML5 & CSS3 or did they half-ass that as well? If they did not I see no point in using a browser that will only give me half (or less) the content and experience that the designer had intended … would your read a magazine, book, or newspaper article that had only half the story because the printer could not print it all the way?

  38. Joe4evr

    There is a FlashBlock for Chrome, and it’s right here: https://chrome.google.com/extensions/detail/gofhjkjmkpinhpoiabjplobcaignabnl

  39. Buffet

    Sounds like I’m not really missing anything – just more microsoft rubbish.

  40. RussianBoy

    ursat

  41. wamarine

    I dont know what some of you are on about, but ‘web rendering’ is working just fine here, so what are you referring to specifically ?

    Also, about 64bit version, you are incorrect about that as well, as my IE 9 RC 64bit is opening and working ( minus feedback) just fine. It renders very nicely , and sites with ton of that stupid flash content scroll amazing fast now. Great job IE 9 RC team ;)

    I do note, that ‘send feedback’ is indeed giving me a error indicating I dont have permission to post there , so I can verify that one. For a RC, given that I felt windows 7 RC was fairly darn solid, this is odd at best.

  42. David

    What about the download manager? can it be disabled?
    Was impossible with the beta version.

  43. Just Joe

    And now, for the negative things about IE.

    - Cannot be fully uninstalled (in case of corruption, malware, file(s)/registry deletion or modification) Firefox, Opera, Chrome all can be FULLY removed & added.

    Are you listening, Microsoft? SOMETIMES total removal is the ONLY way to fix things! Please tell us there will be an option to totally remove & add IE back in the future? (Drools at the thought of a windows version where it has optional components to install at setup:)

    - Media Player
    - Internet Explorer
    - Games
    - Movie Maker
    - Messenger & Live junk associated with it
    - Silverlight
    - Security Essentials
    - .Net (Seriously. You keep changing versions, even adding a blah, SP2 of 2, 3, 4 something versions, so save us the trouble! All incompatible with prior versions too, so users need still ANOTHER annoying version!)
    - System Restore

    Please, Microsoft. Please tell us that you are going to make a windows media player that even comes close to WMP11 for XP. Seriously. That rocked, & the new one for 7 sux!

    Please tell us you will give us an add on pack to fully emulate the start menu for Windows 2000 & also XP Media Center.

    Also, since Internet Explorer IS Active-X based (Where nearly ALL the holes are from in IE), give users a good way to turn it off or on without destroying IE!

    Thank you, kindly Microsoft Developers, thank you!

    P.S. Zip folders is in dire need of life support.

    At a minimum, should have better zip/unzip support where a user has the ability to navigate 3 tabs:

    - Compress (drag & drop files here to compress them. User can select at bottom of window the type compression, level of compression, & whether it is a solid archive)
    - Uncompress (drag & drop also. User can select default output folder)
    - Options (all options are savable to .ini as well as any misc options)

    Microsoft? We are tired of Windows. Stop trying to invent ways to prevent people from copying windows, movies, files, blah! It doesn’t work anyway, & just wastes time! This is why backups stopped being simple, since the registry took over & all the settings are god knows who knows where. SQL what? Quicken tax what?

    MAKE THIS STUFF SIMPLE, OK? THAT’S WHY EVERYONE IS PISSED!

  44. Justin Dunn

    @Just Joe: In Windows 7 most of those can be removed and in fact things like Windows Live Programs and Security Essentials are not included by defaut.

    As for: “Drools at the thought of a windows version where it has optional components to install at setup”
    This does exist in Windows 3.1 and I think Windows 95. It was removed due to the huge amount of problems that creates such as “if you don’t include a web browser by default how would someone download another browser to install”.

  45. mhwhitehead

    @wamarine, I am happy for you that your IE9 64bit RC is working fine. This does not alter the fact that mine doesn’t! My original posting was a little bit lazily worded. More accurate would be to say that it closes before it finishes opening. (So click on open from either taskbar or desktop icon or start menu, Window frame is drawn with window controls, all the rest of the window stays white, pauses for about half a minute, window disappears). I have tried uninstalling and reinstalling the update. Still no improvement. Ideas anyone?

  46. cactusdr

    Holy mackerel. Reading some IE haters comments is like reading Linux users hate for Windows.
    I have been a Firefox user since version 0.9 when it was Firebird and it is still my browser of choice. But I have noticed it becoming slower and slower with each version upgrade. Now IE comes out with this Beta and must say it blows the socks off FF and Opera for speed. And that was my biggest complaint with IE. Will I use it? No. And for the simple reason that I want a browser that I can customize. Some of the add-ons are truly incredible and make life on the internet bearable. That said, I’m impressed enough with this version that I’ll keep it around and learn more about it.

  47. Andrew

    Ok, I wanted to add my $0.02 worth here.

    I too would love an IE that can be fully removed. Because it just doesn’t make sense to make it totally uninstallable. What happens when malware wipes out critical IE settings, files, ads redirects, whatever?

    SURE you can fix it. Maybe. If the installer will re-install. But sometimes it doesn’t. The installer breaks. Cannot uninstall, but yet you cannot run the upgrade because some windows update made it a “The version installed is newer than the version you are trying to remove” yada yada.

    Simplest fix? Total uninstall & repair ability!

    Anyway, here is how I see the “Browser Wars”.

    - Google Chrome – Fast, but no master password for password forms/privacy & other severe issues
    - Opera – Fast, but tabs diminish to needle points (unclickable?) after 100 tabs or so
    - Internet Explorer – Fast (Duh, part of it loads with windows, while all the others have to cold boot from scratch!) but just locks up too much. Had IE 8 crash on fewer than 8 tabs, THEN it crashed on reloading them & got stuck in a perpetual “This tab has crashed, trying to recover” Whatever! IE is just too unstable to seriously consider for multi-tab use. Plus the controls are wonky/difficult to use. Who wants to click 5 buttons in IE 7, 8, or 9 just to clear all your trash? Sure there is CCleaner, but come on man, that is so 1940′s!
    - Safari – Fast, but interface feels dated & have a few issues with the way it handles things
    - Firefox – Getting faster, & probably the best browser overall. The feature-set, ability to totally uninstall & remove, the memory management, the way everything is so simple & intuitive.

    Firefox gets the win, hands down.

    P.S. I tested IE & it has crashed on as little as 4 tabs before! Sometimes you get to 8 (If you are lucky & it is having a good day)

    I also tested Firefox & had 1,611 tabs open. Doesn’t mean firefox never crashes, just that it is a LOT more stable! It eventually did slow down (due to running low on mem).

    There isn’t a browser I have tested yet that has everything I need & is as stable as firefox.
    Chrome leaves behind stuff that still connects to the web when you uninstall it. Bad about leaving updaters, whatever….

    Choice is yours, but give me Firefox anyday!

  48. RussianBoy

    @ Andrew – you opened 1611 tabs in Firefox ? Typo?

  49. pereZ

    that’s probably a misprint.One can’t open so many tabs!

  50. PAman

    I don’t think Andrew had a typo at all, anyone that likes Firefox as much we do has tested out to it’s max!

  51. Wendell

    I’ve been waiting forever for IE 9 but after reading some of the comments here i am not so sure i even want it.IE 8 crashes several times a day for me. My OS is windows 7 and i mustr say windows XP has been the best OS.

  52. Tony

    I hate FF, there are too many add-on’s and other bits and pieces and options all over the place, It’s only a web browser for gods sake. As for Chrome, well whats to like. I’ver been using IE9 Beta for a few months now and it’s just fine, exactly what a web browser should be, you can’t re-invent the wheel)no matter how many spokes you add).

  53. mike

    What I dislike about ie9 is that they have moved the favorites bar from the left of the screen to the right. Doesn’t every other browser have it top left? If it aint broke don’t fix it.

  54. Andrew

    @RussianBoy, no, that is not a typo. Firefox tells you how many tabs you have open when you get ready to close them. I could have opened a lot more, but after that many, I just got bored trying.

    @Tony, that is the great part about FF. The add-ons are only there if you add them. You can add whatever you want, or nothing if you want. I primarily use Ad Block Plus recently, & does what does Internet Explorer do to protect you from flash ads while allowing you to watch Youtube?

    Sure, you can re-invent the wheel. Especially when it crashes a lot.

    P.S. Earlier versions of IE got like 20 something (one of the lowest of all the browsers tested) on the acid tests. Anyone know what the 9 scores? LOL!

    Anywho, I was never able to open that many tabs on IE because it is too buggy. IE struggles after you have a few, so it is horrid for research. Forget re-opening tabs in IE, because it is sure to lock-up, claim it is recovering tabs, and just sit there!

  55. Saucernut

    Just installed IE9, not bad at all. Seems alot faster, and neater than IE8. Thanks for the review….Geek’s.

  56. Heather

    Using Internet Explorer 9 is like surfing the web without a condom.
    Sure, it is faster, but it still has Active-X!

    There IS no safe way to run active x. This has always been the achilles heel of any MS OS because anything that can be automatically run while surfing the web always can bring you a boatload of malware.

    That is why I use Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, ANYTHING but IE!

  57. 123

    hey, i have download it, but it said I have the upgrade ones when I install it, so it aborted? however, I

    haven’t install any component of IE except the win update, so did my IE9 is the newest ones? I

    couldn’t check it as there was no information of that from the product itself.

  58. Dave

    Just downloaded IE #9 and now my computer it is much faster then IE #8. Only problem I have found so far is that when I right click to open up a new tab on Facebook to get an item posted that has been posted, it will open up the tab but it will be a blank with nothing displayed. Does anyone know how to change the settings to allow this?

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