As the gateway to the Internet, your web browser is arguably the most important program on your desktop. In the late 1990s there was a heated battled between the Netscape Corporation (makers of the now-defunct Netscape Navigator browser) and Microsoft (makers of Internet Explorer) –the so-called Browser Wars–for global domination. Microsoft won and for years it virtually owned the browser market. Then along came Firefox, Chrome and Safari, eroding IE's popularity, which now hovers around 60%.
Personally, I find the latest release, IE8, to be very sluggish and prone to frequent crashes. But since almost 70% of Learn the Net's readers use IE, I tend to use it too, so I can share the same online experience as you do. When I need to do some serious surfing however, I launch Firefox.
Microsoft has taken criticism of its flagship browser to heart. As of yesterday, it's made a beta of IE 9 publicly available for download. The company hasn't said when the final version will be released. According to reports, it may not be until early next year.
So far, the word from the technosphere is very positive. IE9 appears to be speedy, stable and sleek, with a new user interface that promises to improve your online experience: less browser so there's more real estate to view a web page. Here's a review of the features.
If you enjoy playing with the next new thing, take IE9 for a test drive by downloading it from Microsoft. Bear in mind that it will run only on the Windows 7 operation system. It's also a beta release, meaning that you may encounter some bugs. Let us know how you like the new browser.