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Microsoft to launch IE9 beta on Sept. 15

The company has scheduled a press event in San Francisco to announce the test version of the new browser.

Microsoft IE9 event invitation
Microsoft on Thursday announced a Sept. 15 event in San Francisco to mark the launch of the beta of IE9. Microsoft/Screenshot by Ina Fried

Microsoft plans to launch the beta of the Internet Explorer browser on Sept. 15, according to a blog post on Thursday.

The software maker has scheduled an event in San Francisco to mark the arrival of the beta, billing the event (and the browser) as highlighting "the beauty of the Web." Microsoft also sent packages to reporters containing a variety of art supplies, such as crayons and fingerpaints, inside a box with an IE logo.

That Microsoft is holding a launch event reflects the resurgent importance of the browser and the degree to which Redmond is counting on IE9 to get it back in to serious technical competition with Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

As noted in a story earlier Thursday, the beta needs either Windows Vista or Windows 7 (no XP) and will also require users to swap out their current installation of Internet Explorer. Among the key features of IE9 is its support for HTML5, an improved JavaScript engine, and the ability to tap a computer's graphics chip to accelerate text and image rendering.

Microsoft hasn't said much about the design of IE9, but the company's Ryan Gavin told CNET that the goal of the browser is not to block the view.

"The browser is the theater," Gavin said. "We're not the play."

Gavin said that Microsoft is hoping to see wide adoption of the beta. "The beta is not for everyone, clearly," he said, "but if you are comfortable downloading and installing software, I know I am going to want you to try IE9."

For those who don't want to, or can't, install the beta, Microsoft plans to continue to offer and update its technical preview of the browser engine, which runs side-by-side with earlier versions of IE. The fourth such preview was released last week.

Microsoft's chief operating officer, Kevin Turner, told financial analysts last month that the beta of IE 9 would come in September.