Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 beta was downloaded 2 million times during its first two days of release, according to the company. That falls in line with the company's other recent beta releases, which have attracted multimillion-user audiences. Those users' data is then used to fine-tune the final version of the software.
"In the first two days, over 2 million people worldwide downloaded IE9 Beta," Roger Capriotti, a product management lead for Internet Explorer, wrote in a Sept. 20 posting on The Windows Blog. "By comparison, when Internet Explorer 8 Beta launched in August 2008, we had 1.3 million downloads over the first five days."
IE 9 beta made its debut Sept. 15 in a San Francisco event. The new browser touts a streamlined user interface and features such as extensive support for HTML5. Microsoft designed the application to leverage the PC's underlying hardware, most notably its graphics processor, for accelerated graphics and video.
End-user features include a "Your Most Popular Sites" page, a "Manage Add-Ons" window that allows users to disable programs that slow down browser performance, the ability in Windows 7 to "tear off" browser tabs and pin them to the taskbar, and a discrete notification bar.
However, only Windows 7 and Windows Vista are IE 9 capable; the new browser was never designed to run on Windows XP, despite Microsoft's pledge to support the older operating system, still used by substantial numbers of consumers and businesses, through April 2014.
Microsoft recommends that business users considering a Windows 7 upgrade not wait until the final version of Internet Explorer 9, reportedly due sometime in early 2011.
"Until the final code of Internet Explorer 9 is released to the web (RTW), we recommend businesses first move to Windows 7 Enterprise with Internet Explorer 8," Rich Reynolds, general manager of Windows Commercial Product Marketing, wrote in a Sept. 21 posting on The Windows Blog. "Thanks to the high degree of application compatibility between the two browser versions, any investments today in deploying Internet Explorer 8 will put you on the best path for transitioning to Internet Explorer 9."
The question with the final version of Internet Explorer 9, of course, is whether it will allow Microsoft to maintain its lead in the browser market, where it faces fierce competition from the likes of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.