Microsoft to launch Internet Explorer 9 at SXSWi

The newest version of the browser will go live Monday--exactly one year after it was initially previewed. The company will throw a party at the festival in Austin, Texas, to celebrate.

Microsoft will be formally launching the next version of its Internet Explorer browser, IE9, at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSWi) on Monday--an interesting place to launch, given that the Austin, Texas, geek fest is packed full of the hordes who have long since ditched Internet Explorer for the decidedly hipper pastures of Firefox, Safari, or Chrome.

The new browser, which had its first and only release candidate land in users' hands in early February, will fully launch to the public at 9 Pacific time that night. In a blog post, Internet Explorer senior director Ryan Gavin described the browser as offering up "a more beautiful web."

On its release day, Microsoft is having a press briefing where Gavin said there are still "a few surprises left." Later that night, Microsoft will be throwing a party in Austin in celebration of the new browser, with hipster-friendly rock act Yeasayer headlining the event.

Among the new features in IE9 is a refreshed look with the browser taking up less space than previous versions of IE, as well as a way to pin sites to the Windows task bar. Sites can then program their pages to act more like desktop applications with things like notifications, and the Windows 7 Jump List feature, which can hop users to specific parts of a Web page.

IE9 also brings performance improvements, including faster start times and a new JavaScript engine called Chakra that Microsoft has proven to be faster at the WebKit SunSpider benchmark test than competitors like Chrome, Opera, Firefox, and Safari. On the security side, IE9 also adds support for "do not track" through lists that users can subscribe to, as well as a way to filter ActiveX content from pages.

The new browser continues to be offered only to users of Windows Vista and Windows 7, leaving users of XP--which is the most popular OS at 45.3 percent of Windows users (according to W3schools)-- with IE8.

For more on IE9, take a look at CNET Download.com's first look at its release candidate.

CNET News's Josh Lowensohn contributed to this report.

 

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