Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 review

David Ludlow
15 Mar 2011
Our Rating 

It's a big improvement over the previous version of IE, but its Windows-centric approach means that Chrome is a better choice.


At one point Microsoft had a 95 per cent market share of the browser market with its Internet Explorer browser. With strong competition from FireFox, Chrome and Safari that lead has fallen to around 43 per cent.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 9

With Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft is hoping to get its browser back on track, promising that it's the fastest and most secure browser yet. It's available as a free download for Windows Vista and 7, but Windows XP is no longer supported. As with previous versions of Internet Explorer, other operating systems, such as Linux and Mac OSX, are not supported.

One of the main benefits of IE9 is that it has built-in hardware acceleration for HTML5 websites, so that the power of your graphics card can be used to render graphics. This can be seen by looking at the FishIE Tank demo programmed by Microsoft.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 FishIE Tank

This creates a virtual aquarium in your web browser. Testing with Google Chrome we got 52fps with 20 fish, but with 1,000 fish we got just 5fps. In IE9 we got 60fps with 20 fish. Moving up to 1,000 fish, we got the same 60fps. This is all well and good, but it's quite a specific example and we had to push the number of fish rendered up to a high number before there's any real noticeable difference between IE9 and Chrome.

As it stands the number of HTML5 websites is very low, so there are few that will take full advantage of a hardware-accelerated browser. Even YouTube only has a rather basic HTML5 version where not all of the videos will play using the HTML5 video player. Those that will can't even be put into a full-screen mode. IE9 might have a slight advantage at the moment, but the other browsers should catch up by the time that HTML5 is much more popular.

Running some more tests we found that testing the load time of Expert Reviews using the WebWait test, we found that Chrome averaged a load time of 1.61s after five runs and IE9 1.71s after five runs. It's essentially too close to call.

Running the [/a]SunSpider JavaScript benchmark[/a] we found that Chrome completed the test in 366.8ms and IE9 in just 244.4ms. IE9 is a fair bit quicker here it has to be said. Overall, we found the IE9 engine to feel a touch more responsive than Chrome, but only marginally so.

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