Imagine a world where you can open your favourite websites straight from your taskbar. Internet Explorer 9, the soon-to-be released incarnation of Microsoft’s web browser, is making that world a (virtual) reality.
If you use the Windows 7 OS, you will already be familiar with Pinned Programs – applications that are stuck to and accessible from the Windows 7 taskbar. Enter Pinned Sites, which will enable you to load up your personal Facebook homepage (pre-logged in and everything) with a single click.
Even better, by right-clicking on the Facebook taskbar icon, you are presented with a list of page options: Messages, Favourites, Friends and Wall. Ditto for sites like Twitter, for which you can right-click straight to a List or other user’s feed page. Could it get easier?
Improved usability and speed is definitely noticeable in IE9. Microsoft has taken on board the examples set by fast-gaining rivals Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome and stripped away all the clutter that has traditionally characterised its browser interface. No more chunky tool and menu bars stacked on top of each other and reducing the visible area of the webpage. The browser also loads much faster than previous incarnations.
The other major improvement is IE9’s capability to render HTML5, the SEO-friendly answer to making flashy websites – without actually using Flash, which search engines cannot read. This is big news for the future of website development, as until now many developers have simply not bothered with HTML5, or anything that the world’s most popular browser cannot display.
However, with Internet Explorer’s user share dropping steadily, Microsoft has recognised the need to step up its browser game to compete with its innovation-embracing competitors.
And it’s about time.