Microsoft announced the public launch of Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), beta version, yesterday.

The new version of the web browser is promoted as being faster, with a cleaner interface, more private, more secure, and is compliant with HTML5.

HTML5 is a new version of HTML, or HyperText Markup Language, which is the basic code that a website delivers to a computer to show a web page. 

IE9 includes a download manager, which Microsoft says will allow common executables to load, but will warn a user before downloading a file that may be harmful.  Another feature will be a notification if a browser add-on causes a system slowdown.  Add-ons are items such as extra tool bars or search boxes added to IE.  Microsoft says that 75% of IE crashes are related to add-ons.

Speed may be IE9’s strongest draw.  The new browser includes a hardware accelerator and a new JavaScript engine.  Over the last few years, IE has been gradually losing popularity, with browser users steadily switching to faster browsers, like Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s FireFox.  Initial reports from review sites like Endgagdet do indicate that IE9 is faster than previous versions of IE, but that Chrome is still faster.

IE9 is the first modern browser that will not support Windows XP, which is still the most commonly used operating system in the world.  A modern browser like IE9 needs a “modern operating system,” according to  IE General Manager, Dean Hachamovitch.

The beta version can be downloaded from Microsoft here.  Beta refers to its status as a test version, and that changes are likely before the final, complete, version is released.