Our approach to building a faster web browsing platform, as seen in the Platform Previews, involves using everything the PC and its hardware have to offer. Before IE9, browsers used perhaps 10% of the PC’s capability. IE9 has shown the clear performance benefits with full hardware-acceleration of webpages.
Our approach in designing a site-centric web browsing experience also involves using everything available around the browser. We see all the pixels and code that people need for a significantly better browsing experience already there on the screen. The beta of Internet Explorer 9, available now at www.BeautyOfTheWeb.com in 33 languages, reflects this unique approach.
Our point of view is that the browser is the stage, or backdrop, for the web, and the sites are the star of the show. Similar to the relationship between Windows 7 and Windows applications, people go to the web for sites, not the browser. We asked, “How can IE make sites shine? How can IE put sites at the center of the experience?” Microsoft has more than a billion Windows customers in the world today, and we want browsing the web – one of the most common things they do on Windows PCs – to be a great experience.
The IE9 experience starts from what people use regularly for launching tasks and managing windows. While consumers have browsed with a home button and bookmarks (or Favorites) for fifteen years, and tabs for closer to five, they use the parts of Windows 7 for launching tasks and managing windows far more. More people launch a pinned application from the Windows 7 taskbar (87%) than use the keyboard shortcut (ctrl+T) for opening a new tab. More people pin at least one non-default application to the Windows 7 taskbar (33%) than add a link to the Favorites bar. While tabs are central to the browsing experience, over 97% of IE sessions have 5 or fewer tabs, and more than 90% of users have never had more than 8 tabs open at once. The set of real-world usage data represents hundreds of millions of sessions and tens of millions of users worldwide, including students, enthusiasts, developers, people at work, and consumers in general. This post from the E7 blog has good background on the use of data to inform product design.
IE9 makes what’s easy and familiar for Windows users available for websites and the people who browse them. Users can pin sites in the taskbar just as they pin applications, and launch web tasks directly, the same way they launch everything else in Windows. Websites can program jump lists for pinned sites, to make common tasks easier for their users as part of the desktop experience. Sites can also program notifications when the user pins them in the task bar. The browser has a clean new design that reinforces the site’s visuals, with a large site icon, and that icon’s colors reflected in the back and forward buttons. IE9 does far more than provide shortcuts to sites on the desktop and reduce the space used in the browser interface. The design of IE9’s frame puts the user’s focus on the site, not the browser, with fewer distractions. IE9 allows sites to shine.