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6 things we like about Internet Explorer 9 beta (and six not so much)

Howard Wen | Sept. 29, 2010
Good and bad features of IE9

5. Add-on alerting

If your installation of IE9 appears to be bogged down with too many or malicious add-ons, the browser will alert you of this upon start up. It will list the add-ons that have been installed, and let you choose which ones you want to shut down or allow to continue running.

We found this security feature surprisingly helpful as a means to audit and prune unnecessary add-ons. You can also imagine the obvious benefit this has for alerting you of any spyware, useless toolbars, or other rogue add-ons you don't remember installing on IE9.

6. Pin-able links

On Windows 7, you can pin links onto the operating system's taskbar, turning them into icons that open the page when clicked. Essentially, this function -- similar to one found in Chrome -- turns a site into a "virtual application."

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 Favorites 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 Favorites 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 color coding

We found the color labeling of tabs to be enigmatic. When we had multiple tabs open, they would sometimes become colored differently, such as light blue, green, violet or yellow, along with shifting gradients of these hues. Even when the pages were fully loaded, these colors 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 popularized 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 color 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.


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