I just installed Internet Explorer 9, which is now available for download. My first impression is that it’s a faster browser than Internet Explorer 8. Pages seem to load faster, and IE itself is lighter on its feet — more agile.
The second impression is that Microsoft made major changes to the look and moved major components around. The Favorites Center is now on the right side, and popup blocker notifications display from the bottom of the application window. The taskbar icon has a large E symbol, and the letter is a lighter shade of blue. My IE installation was an upgrade, and my favorites and feeds were retained, but my home page was changed from Yahoo to iGoogle. This was a surprise, and I suppose it happened because Google was my default search provider.
The first time IE 9 loaded it asked me what my interests were, such as sports, news, music, games, etc. I selected news, entertainment, and music. My new home page includes mini applications called gadgets that consist of a TV schedule, a weather report for my home town (IE also asked for my ZIP code), and local movie listings. Various kinds of content, including picture videos and news headlines are loaded into the gadgets. The effect is that my home page is more like a SharePoint portal site with multiple panels rather than a single large page. I can redesign my home page to include the content I want, and I have more control than I ever had in the past.
The new look of Internet Explorer 9 can be disorienting at first. Most of the familiar menus and toolbar buttons are missing by default but can be re-added. All of the content collected from so many sources can be very diverting. I find myself drawn in by the content and spend more time with it than I intend. It is going to take a lot of discipline on my part to keep the amount of time I browse the web at a healthy limit.
Download the IE 9 Release candidate and try for it for yourself at: