Internet Explorer 9 Preview: Uh, NiceS

Internet Exploder, an excellent browser? With Internet Explorer 9, it's possible! Microsoft's made a very pretty browser that feels like it's a part of Windows 7, loaded with HTML5 compatibility and unmatched graphics hardware acceleration for whizzy, whizzy web apps.

Internet Explorer 9 Preview: Uh, NiceS

It's way more standards compliant than any previous version of IE, with a 95 score on the Acid3 web standards test. Like every modern browser, it's packed in a bunch of HTML5 features, though what Microsoft's pushing the hardest, particularly in its big shebang demos—that you can catch here—is the fact that it's using Direct2D and DirectWrite for hardware-accelerated graphics rendering with your GPU.

The promise is that by tapping your graphics card, the browser can run more hardcore web apps, like games in the browser, as some of Microsoft's impressive, if slanted, demos attest to. (Google's pushing its own ways to reach the same end.)

Internet Explorer 9 Preview: Uh, NiceS

In terms of usage, IE9 is the first time Internet Explorer didn't immediately make me wanna plunge back into Chrome or Firefox—oh the bliss of the unified search/address bar—both in terms of the interface and the way it renders pages. It has its share of wonkiness while it's still in beta, though. In addition to the weird way it renders our quicklink headlines, for instance, it completely chokes out on Apple's spiffy new HTML5-powered iTunes Showtimes, even though the page works perfectly in Chrome, Firefox 4 beta 4 and of course Safari.

Internet Explorer 9 Preview: Uh, NiceS

Oh, a neat bit I originally forgot to mention, since the functionality didn't start lighting up until a bit ago—Microsoft's partnering with a bunch of websites, like Facebook, USA Today, Hulu, WSJ and a ton of others to make them better integrated with IE9. So, for instance, if you drag a supported site from IE9's address bar down to the Windows taskbar, it'll create shortcut with an app-like jumplist that'll quickly take you to the most used parts of the site (as you can see in this Facebook example).

The beta's out for everybody later today. You might as well check it out, since it's what your mom's going to be using in a few months—you might even be impressed. (Google's Chrome Arcade Fire demo totally kills IE9's Killers demo, though.) It's right here: [IE9 Beta]