IT departments know that a standardized desktop can help streamline and reduce the cost of deployment, management, and support. Standardizing on the web browser can be a key part of that overall benefit.
However, gaining user acceptance for that web browser is an important step to standardization. The logic is simple: If users do not like their web browser, they will push back—or worse, install their favorite, unsupported web browser on their computers. Of course, the IT department can prevent users from installing unsupported web browsers (for example, by using Microsoft® AppLocker™ in Windows® 7), but service-oriented organizations such as IT departments want to keep users happy.
Shown in Figure 1, Windows Internet Explorer 9 helps overcome this challenge by providing a web browser that we think end users will like—one with new and enhanced features based on user feedback. Internet Explorer 9 makes websites and applications seem as if they were native to their computers. The browser delivers clean and graphically rich experiences, and helps to provide comprehensive security and reliability built in to the web browser and turned on by default.
Figure 1: New features and improvements in Internet Explorer 9 are based on user feedback.
Internet Explorer 9 not only benefits IT pros by helping to drive standardization, but it can also help make IT pros more productive when using web-based management portals. Internet Explorer 9 is significantly faster than Internet Explorer 8. Additionally, the web browser makes your management portal, not the web browser user interface, the center of attention. IT pros can feel these benefits immediately.
The following sections describe specific examples of these features. For a more complete description of new features in Internet Explorer 9, see the Internet Explorer 9 Product Guide.
With graphics processing unit (GPU)-powered HTML5, Internet Explorer allows websites to take full advantage of computer power through the Windows operating system. Line-of-Business (LOB) applications that organizations deliver through the web require fewer system resources, and they look and feel like native applications. The following sections describe key new and improved features.
Hardware acceleration. Hardware-accelerated video, graphics, and text allow end user websites and applications to perform like applications that users install directly on their computers. High-definition videos play smoothly, graphics are clearer and more responsive, colors are truer, and websites can be more interactive.
Fast installation. Internet Explorer 9 is faster to install than Internet Explorer 8 because of an upgrade process that requires fewer decisions and less overall time. Additionally, IT pros can add Internet Explorer 9 to existing Windows 7 images to streamline the deployment process. For more information, see Piloting in Windows 7.
Clean User Interface
In addition to a faster and more responsive web experience, Internet Explorer 9 also helps drive user acceptance by giving end users a clean experience that puts the focus squarely on the webpage. The streamlined user interface and seamless integration with Windows 7 provide quick access to business-critical applications, websites, and common tasks. The following sections describe key new and improved features.
Clean design. Internet Explorer 9 user interface provides just the controls necessary to support essential navigation, playing a supporting role to the webpage. Notifications now appear in the Notification Bar at the bottom of the web browser and are easier for end users to understand. The New Tab intelligently displays the websites that end users visit most often, so that they can quickly get to popular websites. One Box gives users a single place both to navigate to specific websites and to search the web by using their favorite search provider. Tear-off tabs allow users to use simple gestures, such as dragging and dropping to open tabs in new windows or snapping them to the edges of the screen in Windows 7.
Rich experiences. Internet Explorer 9 provides graphically rich and immersive experiences. It does so with hardware-accelerated graphics, the Direct2D graphics infrastructure, HTML5 video tag (enabling smooth-streaming high definition video), HTML5 canvas tag (enabling interactive graphic interfaces), SVG support (enabling crisp, scalable graphics), and ICC (for truer colors). The Internet Explorer Test Drive websiteis a great place to experience these improvements.
Windows 7 integration. Seamless integration of Internet Explorer 9 with Windows 7 enables new ways for end users to experience websites. For example, they can pin business-critical applications and websites to the taskbar, and websites can add tasks to those Jump Lists. Figure 2 shows a Jump List for Contoso HD. This Jump List includes custom tasks that open different channels on the website. Additionally, developers can add controls to thumbnail previews, similar to the controls that Windows Media® Player adds.
Figure 2. Internet Explorer 9 integrates seamlessly with Windows 7.
Beyond helping to drive user acceptance, Internet Explorer 9 also supports the special needs of enterprises, to help reduce deployment, management, and support costs. Enterprise-class reliability can help keep end users productive. Industry-leading protection can help them stay safe on the web. Support for proven deployment and management practices helps IT pros confidently deploy Internet Explorer 9 and control configurations in production. The following sections describe key new and improved features.
Built-in security. The industry-leading SmartScreen Filter helps protect end users from malware and phishing attacks. Since the release of Internet Explorer 8, the SmartScreen URL filter has blocked more than 1.2 billion malware and phishing attacks. It continues to block between 3 and 5 million attacks each day. Internet Explorer 9 adds the SmartScreen download filter to block downloaded program files, based on their reputation. Internet Explorer 9 is the only major web browser that provides integrated download reputation to help end users make better choices when deciding whether to trust a downloaded program file. Both features are turned on by default.
Figure 3. SmartScreen Filter works with the new Download Manager.
Reliability. Internet Explorer 9 includes new support for hang recovery. This support isolates the impact of a hung tab to the individual tab, so that an issue does not affect other tabs or the overall web browser. Hang recovery means that users can continue to browse other tabs even after a website hangs. This feature complements the tab isolation and automatic crash recovery features that Internet Explorer 8 introduced. Internet Explorer 9 also improves the Compatibility View mode by making the Compatibility View list available as an XML file that’s easier for IT pros to manage.
Tracking protection lists. Tracking protection lists are a new feature in Internet Explorer 9 that helps protect users from being tracked online. Today’s websites often use content hosted on third parties. This content can include anything from images, text, tracking beacons, cookies, and scripts. A side effect of this design is that the third-party content can be used to track you across multiple sites. These third parties can collect the URLs you are browsing to, as well as your IP address, without your knowledge or consent. Tracking protection functionality allows the browser to block third-party content based on lists that users install. We’re working with third parties to create and author these tracking protection lists. Also new in Internet Explorer 9 are group policies for IT pros to disable or configure thresholds for tracking protection lists:
Configure Tracking Protection Lists
Tracking Protection threshold
Turn off Tracking Protection
Deployment and control. Internet Explorer 9 addresses the special needs of enterprises. The browser supports automated deployment, and you can add it as an update to existing Windows 7 images (see the topic Piloting in Windows 7). Additionally, Internet Explorer 9 adds to the nearly 1,500 Group Policy settings that Internet Explorer 8 provided (see the section Group Policy Settings).
Internet Explorer 9 demonstrates our commitment to an interoperable web by supporting modern web standards. The browser enables developers to use the same mark-up across web browsers, helping to reduce development and support costs. Modern web standards that Internet Explorer 9 supports include:
Cascading Style Sheets, Level 3 (CSS3, 2D Transforms)
Document Object Model (DOM) Levels 2 and 3 (DOM events)
Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)
HTML5 – canvas element
Microsoft is actively working to bring modern standards to the web. We participate in the CSS3 and SVG working groups, co-chair the HTML5 working group, and lead the HTML5 Testing Task Force. Standards consistency is a top priority for Microsoft. We create and submit more test cases to the W3C than any other web browser vendor. These actions help to ensure that as web browsers implement modern web standards, developers write to them consistently. Thus, enterprises can have fewer concerns over web application compatibility.