Someone asked me what is my favorite feature of the new IE9 Beta? I had to think a bit, and finally decided – there isn’t just one! So, after a half day or so of playing with the new IE9, here are my Top 5 Favorite Features:
1. Color-Coded Tabs
For those web users, especially web or social media professionals who spend the better part of a day at work browsing, multiple tabs are incredibly helpful in reading pages, and opening new tabs onto new links without losing the current tab content. Technically, I don’t believe this is a “new” feature but it works really well with IE9’s lightning fast New Tab command.
If you open another Tab for a page on the same website as the current page, IE9 assigns a random color to the Tabs for all those similar pages. In the above image, I opened another Tab for the Internet Explorer page on Facebook, from another Facebook page, and did the same thing with this blog in another tab. Opening another tab on Teabrooke.com, IE9 made both of those tabs blue.
There are extensions or add-ons for both Chrome and Firefox that offer similar functionality, but having this built-in to the browser, with the overhead of add-ons, is very helpful.
2. Print Preview
Printing of web pages has always been one of the weaker components of the browser experience. Each browser seems to spit out its own take on how the page should look in its printed form. The Print Preview function in IE9 goes a long way toward taking the pain out of website printing.
Firefox has Print Preview, while Chrome does not (surprisingly), but the Print Preview functionality in IE9 outshines Firefox. In the screenshot above, not the markers that can be used to dynamically change the margins of the printed page? And rather than attempt to shoehorn the complete web page, as it appears onscreen, into just one page, IE9 seems to be defaulting to the more “mobile” view of Teabrooke.com, with all content in one big column.
Those of us who regularly print web pages, or have co-workers who seemingly have an addition to sharing sites by printing, this could be a great time saver in terms of deciphering printouts. Plus, the Print Preview windows defaults its size to the size at which you’re running IE9 itself. Nice!
3. Pinning Tabs to the Task Bar
By now most Windows users are familiar with the capability of Vista, and to a greater extent, Windows 7, to “pin” application shortcuts to the Task Bar, or Start Menu. You can much the same thing with a Tab in IE9, just click and drag it to the Task Bar. Hold the click and your mouse for a moment, and you will see a small menu command to “Pin to Task Bar”.
I did this for a Tab open on to the TEABROOKE page on Facebook (fan it here). I now have a permanent shortcut on the Task Bar – a pinned application, so to speak – that when I click it, it opens a new IE9 window directly on that web page. Not rocket science, but very handy, especially for social media, web-based email, or other sites that you find yourself visiting often throughout the day. In the above screenshot, I did the same thing for a WordPress.com Tab open on this blog; now all I have to do is hit that shortcut, and I’m on my blog Dashboard. No firing up the browser, then clicking a shortcut or Favorite – just one click – done!
4. Very Windows 7-Aware
This is related somewhat to the above Tab Pinning feature, but when you have a Tab pinned to the Task Bar, as shown above, you can right-click on that shortcut, and you will see a contextual shortcut menu – with options particular to the shortcut’s website address. This is similar to the informative shortcuts and icons you can see now in your Windows Start Menu or Task Bar; a listing of recent documents for Word 2007 for example.
With the two new IE9 shortcuts I have pinned to the Windows 7 Task Bar, as shown above, when I right-click on the Facebook icon, I see this menu:
For Facebook, I have immediate options to click and open a new IE9 window on the News feed, Messages, Events or Friends, all within Facebook.
And for my TEABROOKE WordPress.com shortcut, the menu provides links into different areas of my blog, or WordPress.com itself, such as Support and Forums – very handy!
5. SPEED – Did I Mention IE9 Was Fast?
Given past experience with Internet Explorer, speed (or lack thereof) was always one of my top complaints about the IE browser in the past. I continue to be impressed by IE9 Beta’s speed at startup, loading any web page I throw at it, and in opening new Tabs (blank, or with a new link) – always an issue, at least for me, with past versions IE7 and IE8.
I do not have a top of the line performance system, just a refurbished Gateway LX-6810, with an Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 processor at 2.33GHz, running Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. This machine was new probably in 2008 or so. Having used a succession of laptops, even top of the line laptops, in the last few years, this PC is easily the fastest I’ve ever used. I am used to Chrome starting up super-quick, and Firefox 3.6 pretty quick (though the Firefox 4 betas I’ve tried are an improvement), and used to IE7 (especially) and IE8 (less so) being far slower to startup, load pages, and especially (it’s a pet peeve, I admit it) – SLOW at opening new tabs, even blank tabs.
No more. IE9 Beta starts up lightning quick, near instantaneous. If I really cared about how fast, I would time it, but I frankly don’t care much for performance metrics like that – I measure applications in terms of real-world performance – for me, the user. And in that context, the IE9 Beta may just beat Google Chrome at startup time.
I’ll be interested to see how Microsoft, Google, Firefox (and Opera, of course) pit their respective browsers against the new updating IE9, and I’m sure that each developer will find a metric under which their own respective browser wins out overall. But I cannot deny it any longer, IE9 Beta fills my need for browsing speed. (In the future, I promise no more quasi-Top Gun references.)
This isn’t a vacuum people… Have you tried IE9 Beta yet? What are your first impressions, thoughts, your top favorite features? Please comment here or hit TEABROOKE on Facebook and click ye olde “Like” button.