IE9 RC: Internet Explorer Returns

Microsoft released Internet Explorer 9 RC (Release Candidate) today, and after finishing up some work hacking up a Windows installer script, I downloaded and installed the new version to take it for a spin. IE hasn’t been my default browser for awhile now, and I wondered whether MS could regain that coveted slot in the system registry. I switched to Google Chrome over a year ago simply because it was faster to start up, and faster to render sites than IE8. I think most people who have used both would agree with those impressions, although Microsoft always contended that their own tests showed IE8 had a small performance edge. Whatever side of that argument you support, my experience today navigating a number of complex sites with both IE9 and Chrome lead me to conclude that Microsoft has leapfrogged the competition.

My purely subjective results are that IE9 now starts and renders faster than Chrome. In addition it scrolls complex sites more smoothly, a benefit of the new hardware-accelerated rendering engine. The interface hasn’t changed dramatically, but it is a little more streamlined. I’m sure there are many more changes to explore under the hood, and I will be interested to run some of my Silverlight and javascript code to see how it behaves and performs, but at the very least this version of Internet Explorer is a definite Chrome competitor. That is a meaningful achievement, and confirms once again that anyone who writes Microsoft off in a market they want to be in, does so at the peril of their business.

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