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12 things you need to know about IE9

Internet Explorer 9: the best and worst features

The beta version of Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 has only been available for two weeks, but we've been using it constantly during web browsing sessions since then. We discovered six things we really love about the new web browser... and six that we think need some work before the final version is released.

Six things about IE9 that could use some work...

1. Crowded user interface

To be sure, there is much more screen real estate devoted to displaying a web page. But this is simply the way IE9 looks under its default setting. Wait until you activate the Favourites bar and Command bar, both of which will take up space below the URL address/tabs bar. In addition, the status bar takes up additional space running along the bottom.

The problem is the combined URL address/tabs bar. Both functions share the same bar. If you keep more than a couple of tabs open at once (which most of us do), the tabs start to narrow and things can become cramped quickly.

Additionally, when you have either the Favourites or Command bar turned on, the graphical design of an active, selected tab doesn't look like it's directly connected to the web page you're viewing.

2. Wonky colour coding

We found the colour labelling of tabs to be enigmatic. When we had multiple tabs open, they would sometimes become coloured differently, such as light blue, green, violet or yellow, along with shifting gradients of these hues. Even when the pages were fully loaded, these colours remained. What do they represent? Their purpose is not obviously presented, and we shouldn't have to look this information up.

3. The new 'dialer' page

IE9 includes a 'dialer' page, an idea popularised with Opera. Every blank tab you open shows thumbnails of the 10 sites IE9 deems you tend to visit most. Clicking a thumbnail opens a new tab connecting you to that site.

However, like the colour coding system applied to tabs, the additional graphical information shown in this feature is ill-defined. Each thumbnail has a bar below it, and this bar's length is based on the site's supposed status ('very active', 'active' and 'less active'). Huh? We'll assume this reflects the amount of memory, CPU cycles, or karma points each page uses, but this isn't clearly stated.

Worse, the colour of the bar below a thumbnail is meaningless - it is pulled from one of the colours used for the website's favicon and, otherwise, does not appear to convey any important technical information.

NEXT PAGE: The new download manager

  1. IE9 features we love
  2. Tear-out tabs
  3. Six areas that need work
  4. The new download manager

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