DISCLAIMER: I don't work for the IE Team. I don't have any magic internal knowledge that wasn't found on Wikipedia or a public bathroom wall. Any errors here are mine and any speculation here is likely nonsense. If you quote me in a news article and say something like "Microsoft's Principal Program Manager Scott Hanselman sez all your base are belong to IE9" then you're a dork, because there's like 5,000 of us PMs. We're like cockroaches. Don't imply a product or company or unit has a single PM.
I run all the browsers. Is it because I'm a techie? Because I'm a shill? Mostly because I honestly can't decide. I run IE8 for intranet sites because it's compatible, I run Firefox because I have a bunch of nice add-ins I like, I run Chrome because it's fast, I run Safari...ok, I don't run Safari...I run Opera in case I might miss something cool that those wonderful Norwegians might have thrown in when I wasn't looking.
I run the latest version of everything. I want to see the new features and I want to see what old features get removed or hidden.
I installed IE9 Beta today and noticed that a lot of stuff was removed. I saw this great graph from Jane Kim on the IE team on their blog today show what features folks use in the browser. While I find the high end numbers a little suspect (seriously, who are these 29% of people who aren't clicking the back button? Grandma?) the point is that once you really dig into the telemetry, after the basics, folks just aren't using all the bells and whistles. Why not just get those bells and whistles out of the way?
IE9 Beta's interface is extremely minimal, it seems. Check these shots of IE9b, Opera 10.61, Chrome 7.0.517.5dev, Firefox 4.1b6, and Safari 5.0.2, all with their default settings.
Looks like all the browsers are starting to get out of the way of the web and include less crap. There's interesting "pairings" in the interfaces, like the back button in IE9 and FF4.1, the colored button in Firefox and Opera, the settings gear in IE9 and Safari, and the refresh button in all browsers. There's only so many ways these metaphors can be presented, right? At least we all agreed on address bars and tabs. ;)
A number of long time IE8 users have emailed me and said "looks like a good start, but x feature is gone."
...taken directly from emails or comments I personally got on launch day.
It renders different, for sure. When IE9 renders in it's, well, IE9 mode, it's using DirectWrite to render the text. This means the text rendered is not only potentially hardware-accelerated, but it also means we get (directly from MSDN):
But when you render using IE8 compatibility mode, you're using the regular GDI rendering that you're probably used to.
OK, so what, right? Well, if you've got some CSS, as I do on my podcast site http://hanselminutes.com/ for example, that says "8pt" that means I have asked for an 8pt font. Not pixels, points. That's a typography thing, not a Windows thing.
When a page like mind asks for font-size: 8pt that converts to a 10.667 pixel font size. If you're using GDI (IE8) rendering that will round up to a nice round 11 pixels, and it'll look exactly as if I'd said font-size: 11px. Which I didn't. But, it'll snap to a pixel, right?
However, if I start to scale a page with that GDI rendered font from 100% up to larger sizes using the Ctrl-Plus hotkey, check out what happens with my text. It's breaking and wrapping differently at each zoomed text size. Those rounding errors are catching up with me.
With DirectWrite though, I get smooth transformations all the way up and down. If I ask for 8pt, I'll get 10.667px "exactly" in the sense of "you asked for it."
It's subtle, but it gives the designer more control. If you really feel strongly about it, ask for font sizes that will snap to pixels at small sizes. I'm noticing only at really small font sizes, myself.
This kind of more accurate font rendering is coming though, so get ready. It's in Firefox's betas, and Chrome's nightlies. I'm sure that someone from the IE9 team who actually knows what they are talking about will do a post on this with WAY more detail soon. Before then, here's some text for you to stare at. Note the CSS change in the 3rd shot that makes the fonts "clearer."
IE9 running in 8 document mode:
IE9 running in 9 document mode:
IMPORTANT: IE9 running in 9 document mode but with the font-size changed to 11px:
Firefox 4 Beta 6:
You can right click in any of the 'whitespace' (it's actually transparent) and get your precious Favorites Bar and/or Command bar back.
Personally, since I DO use bookmarklets (see my links?) but I also like minimalism, I have decided against showing the Favorites bar ("bookmarks bar") and am clicking the little Star/Favorites button. My stuff is still there, it's just one more click away. Your call.
If you click the Gear icon, you'll find most interesting stuff that you'd want is duplicated in there.
See that Print is the first thing? Also, if you're used to Hotkeys, as I am, know that the Menu Bar is actually there, hidden until you use a key, like Alt-F:
Right now in IE9b, if you start dragging from the "favicon.ico" (that's the websites little icon in the upper left there) you’ll get a pinned site and an icon like this mid-drag, and a pinned site when you drop.
However, if you already have shift down before you start the drag, you'll get a regular internet shortcut that is NOT a pinned site.
You could remove "Quick Tabs" and insert just about any feature out there that folks get attached to. Most of the obscure stuff that no one uses (refer back to the chart above, 1.1% guy) is still buried in the settings but turned off. In the case of Quick Tabs, I think Aero Peek is a cooler feature.
If you really want Quick Tabs back, go to the Settings (Gear) menu, then Internet Options, General, Tab Settings, and turn it back on. Ctrl-Q is the hotkey. This is an IE7 feature, so don't get all excited. It'll get you this:
But forget about it because you already know that Aero Peek gives you this by just hovering over the Taskbar Icon. And, remember that these peek thumbnails are live. That means videos, animations, everything keeps running and you can see it in the thumbnail.
Enjoy, and I hope this helped you find your cheese.
Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.