It's official. Internet Explorer will officially launch Monday, March 14. Whether you are using Internet Explorer 8, or you're one of the dwindling stubborn few clinging to IE6, or even if you're using an alternative browser like Chrome or Firefox--here are some reasons you might want to start using IE9.
With Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft has shifted the focus of the Web browser. Instead of being a tool that renders Web pages, IE9 provides a tightly-integrated experience that treats the Web like an extension of the PC desktop, and treats websites more like applications. And, like applications, frequently visited sites can be pinned to the Windows 7 task bar for easy access. Pinned sites open in a custom browser window with the site icon in the upper left making it simple return to the initial site "home page". Sites can also take advantage of tasks and jump lists to provide right-click access to common functions within the site.
Tabbed browsing is great for being able to open and view multiple pages at a time. Sometimes, though, you need to see two tabbed pages side by side--which you can't do by clicking back and forth on the tabs. With IE9, you can drag a tab out of Internet Explorer to view as a separate browser window. You can also drag and drop the tab back into the main browser when you are done viewing the pages side by side, and IE9 color codes the tabs so you can easily identify which pages are associated with each other.
This feature has existed in rival browsers like Firefox for some time, but it is new to Internet Explorer. The Download Manager tracks the files you download from the Internet with your browser, and helps alert you when a file might be malicious. For slow Internet connections, the IE9 Download Manager also lets you pause and restart downloads.
I don't have a lot of hope for "do not track" efforts by any browser, and I have some particular issues with Microsoft's approach in Internet Explorer 9, but the hybrid approach of IE9's do not track lists, combined with user opt-out with HTTP headers is better than nothing. Tracking Protection Lists in IE9 designate websites to restrict communication of tracking data and protect your privacy.
Hardware accelerated graphics is perhaps the "pièce de résistance" of IE9. Internet Explorer 9 taps into the power of the PC's graphics processor to boost performance of graphics-intensive tasks like video streaming and online gaming. Of course, your PC must have a separate GPU capable of delivering the hardware accelerated graphics performance, but assuming your PC is equipped the blazing speed of IE9 allows for a whole different Web experience.
Internet Explorer 9 requires Windows Vista (SP2 or later) or Windows 7--it will not work with Windows XP. Newer hardware is also helpful to take full advantage of the hardware accelerated rendering. Internet Explorer is only compatible with Windows, though, so if you are running Mac OS X or Linux you can't join the IE9 party.