With all the attention paid to Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox in recent years, it's easy to forget that Internet Explorer is still the World's most widely used Web browser.
That said, it's been a couple years since IE 8 first made an appearance, and a lot has changed in that time. Google introduced Chrome while IE 8 was in beta, and has released new versions at a ridiculously fast pace. Apple released not one but two major updates to Safari. Opera now stands at version 10.6, and Firefox at 3.6.9. And HTML5 went from being some far-off technology that only Web nerds knew about to one that's starting to gain widespread support (despite some issues left to work out).
In addition, Internet Explorer 9 can take advantage of your graphics card to handle page rendering and animation. This should further bolster IE 9's performance.
On the security front, IE 9 has a reputation scanner for downloaded files, much like what we're seeing in some of the newest security suites that are now hitting the market; the idea is that it'll look at various aspects of a file--who published it, how frequently it's downloaded, and so forth--to determine whether it's safe, or whether it's iffy.
The big question: Is the IE 9 Public Beta any good? We took a good look at it to find out. Read on for our full coverage of Microsoft's newest browser.
If you're interested in taking IE 9 for a spin, visit Microsoft's Beauty of the Web site.
[Updated 12:17 PM Pacific to include a link to the IE 9 download.]