User Experiences: Quieter Notifications


Today, there are various ways in which the browser communicates with you to help provide a safe and reliable browsing experience. IE9 emphasizes site content, to keep your focus on the site, with a quiet and consistent way for the browser to communicate with you.

This builds on the work done in Windows 7 to reduce notifications (see Chaitanya’s blog post that talks about the Windows notification area as “The whisperer”). We designed a new notification bar that delivers messages in a consistent and clear manner while allowing you to keep your focus on the site content.

This blog post explains how we’ve classified notifications and reduced browsing interruptions through a design that is both available and ignorable.

When you drive on the highway, you want to focus on your driving. Any sign post on the road is a potential distraction and can be dangerous, but some signs also convey useful information. Similarly, in the browser, any notification has the potential to distract from your browsing, and at the same time, you depend on the browser to keep you safe and warn you about security or privacy concerns.

Quieter

We set out to minimize unnecessary distractions and quiet the overall experience so you can focus on your sites. We looked at all the forms of notifications in IE and placed them into 3 categories – blocking messages, suggestions and affirmations.

  • Blocking messages typically come in the form of a dialog that takes focus and forces you to act upon it immediately. This can be perceived as an “interruption” to browsing. These should be used sparingly for when the browser needs consent before moving forward. On the road, this is analogous to a stop sign. You have to come to a full stop – think about what to do and move forward. For example, if the SmartScreen Filter detects that the webpage is a phishing site, IE gives a full-page blocking experience to warn you that this is believed to be a malicious site.
  • Suggestions are actionable messages that do not require a decision before proceeding. Like an exit sign on the road, you can choose to act on the browser’s suggestion if you want to or ignore it and continue browsing. Examples include the browser asking if you want to save the password for a web site.
  • Affirmations inform you of something that happened but isn’t actionable. An example is the browser telling you that your browsing history was successfully cleared after you delete your browsing history.

Through this classification, we then looked at how these notifications are surfaced in browsing: dialogs, balloons, information bars, gleams, and sounds. We found that many of these could be removed, and overall we removed 23 blocking dialogs. Some of these were unnecessary confirmations, like “Are you sure you want to delete this Favorite?” We also turned off the sound made when you click on a link since the browser offers other cues (ex: address bar update and the spinning doughnut on the tab) to indicate that it received your input (Sounds can be re-enabled in Internet Options > Advanced > Play System Sounds).

Next, we found that some blocking messages could be converted to suggestions or affirmations so that they are less disruptive. These are presented in the new notification bar.

For example, when you log into your web mail account, IE asks if you want to save your password. We know from telemetry data that 45% of people like to save their password, and in IE8 this question appears in the form of a dialog that requires an answer. We want to continue providing this functionality and in IE9, the password experience is available through the notification bar where you can choose to store your password, or simply continue using your web mail without answering the question.

Save passsword notification bar

The illustration below shows how we mapped these messages in IE8 to the notification experience in IE9.

IE8 to IE9 blocking messages removal and conversion

Designed to be available and ignorable

The notification bar is designed to be available and ignorable to keep the primary focus on the site. However, while we want people to focus on sites, we also want them to easily find a message from IE when they are looking for something.

One aspect that helped us achieve this goal is striking the right balance between “noisy” and “quiet”. If there are too many notifications, people tend to ignore them and might miss an important message. As mentioned above, we kept or removed messages based on telemetry data around how often people interacted with them and the options they chose. We found that the current design achieves on this goal through our user studies. In eye-tracking studies, we found that all participants noticed and interacted with most of the notification bars they cared about, particularly as we progressed through the session.

It’s important that notifications are consistent and have the same UI appear at the same location. This way, people have one place to look for messages from IE. To aid this, we’ve also moved all the information bars from the top to the new notification bar.  With a consistent and predictable place for all notifications, people are able to ignore the notification and are able to find it easily when they want to interact with it.

Less visual noise helps notifications be ignorable. We prioritized reducing noise over discovery and have this new control be a learnable design so that over time people will naturally look to the bottom for notifications. Since it is new look and behavior, we recognize that this may take a couple of times before one will notice the new location. We saw in usability studies that participants in the lab easily adapted to the new experience and location. Participants liked the fact that the notification bar was no longer “in your face,” like the password dialog.  Some participants looked at but did not interact with notifications they didn’t want to.  A few specifically mentioned that they could continue to browse instead of being interrupted by a dialog.  This was in line with the goals of the design – to be both noticeable when necessary and ignorable when not.

A clean experience with less visual noise is also achieved by showing only one notification bar at a time. All notifications are prioritized such that the most important notifications are at the top and once people interact with a notification, the next one becomes visible. Notifications which are shown as the result of a user action are given highest priority (ex: downloading a file). Suggestions which are actionable and can improve the user’s browsing experience (ex: add-on performance notifications) are next in line, while affirmations (ex: “Your browsing history has been deleted”) have the lowest priority.

Since notification bars are designed to be out of your way, they persist beyond a single navigation only if it makes sense to persist them across navigations without change of context. This helps people continue their task and act on IE’s suggestion at a time of their convenience. In the password example mentioned above when you log into your email account, you can first click on your inbox and as your emails load, you can choose to save your password. Most Suggestions will go away when you navigate to a different site.

Fast

We also considered the performance impact of a notification. The information bar in previous versions of IE (and other browsers) pops from the top of the frame into the content area and causes the web page to re-layout. This can take valuable seconds depending on the complexity of the page. With IE9’s emphasis on improving all-around performance, we designed the notifications to overlay the content and de-coupled the bar from the web page layout area to avoid any delay. Web pages often have critical information at the top of the page (their branding, navigation menu, search box, sign in controls). By placing the bar at the bottom, we avoid obscuring important page elements.

Trust and confidence

It’s important that people know that a notification comes from IE without distracting the focus on the site content.  We’ve stylized the notification bar to be similar to the Windows Action Center, where the use of the yellow bar indicates secondary information. The horizontal bar provides a clear separation from the page for easy readability.  In our user studies we found that participants were able to identify that the message was coming from IE. One participant shared:

“I assume that’s the browser. It’s Internet Explorer saving it, not being done through the website itself.  When the window pops up on the browser at the same spot as manage add-ons and stuff like that, it seems like it’s all part of the deal there.”

Internet Explorer is designed to be secure-by-default: privileged actions like showing a popup or downloading a file are automatically blocked. People may use the Notification Bar to override the browser’s default behavior and grant a page permission to perform a privileged action.

Handy Shortcuts

You can use these handy shortcuts to interact with the notification bar through the keyboard:

Alt-N – gives focus to the notification bar
Alt-N & Enter – corresponds to first button on the notification bar
Alt-N & Esc – dismisses the notification bar

We hope that you enjoy browsing with IE9 beta and find notifications useful and less distracting. We look forward to hearing your feedback!

Ritika Virmani
Program Manager – User Experience

Comments (55)

  1. MitchC says:

    The new bar is certainly nicer but a few things:

    *The major issue is that it actively blocks more page content and will show up on _every_ page if for example you disable an addon like flash (IE only allow flash on a select few sites with the activex per site whitelisting).     The annoyance isn't so much that on every page one visits you then see "this site requests flash" as you can ignore that, the problem is on every page you visit now there is this big block of content being blocked.

    *Popup notification windows/javascript input reqs you cannot still allow popups without refreshing the page, I am sure this is partially for proper javascript support but for a lot of transactions it can be a real headache if the page doesn't support refreshing, again its mainly a web developers shouldn't count on popups but still many do.  It would be nice if there was an option to allow this(say advanced settings) to be enabled even though it may break some sites.

  2. Anonymous says:

    "I hope you enjoy browsing in IE9 and find the new notification bar less distracting and helpful."

    lol.  So you hope we find the new notification bar less helpful?  I think you mean "less distracting and more helpful".

  3. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @MitchC: Good feedback, thanks. One minor improvement was made in IE9 for the popup blocker scenario you mention. When the user selects "Allow popup" on the popup blocker notification bar, IE will still attempt to refresh the page to allow script in this page to run correctly and spawn a popup. However, it is possible that the page may block the refresh (e.g. with the OnBeforeUnload dialog: "Are you sure you want to leave this page? Doing so will lose some of your work…"). Previously, if you chose "No", the page would not refresh, but subsequent popups would still be blocked. This is now fixed, and subsequent popups are allowed even if you decline to refresh the page.

  4. Quppa says:

    Definitely an improvement on previous versions. There's also the pleasant side-effect of eliminating a lot of legacy dialog boxes that looked out of place in Vista/7.

    Why the custom styling of buttons on the notification bar, though? That seems unnecessary.

    (And while we're talking about UI quirks, are there any plans to update menu stylings before RTM? I happily note that the new Tools menu (Alt+X) is natively styled, but others are not (web page context menus, the favourites menu, etc.) – the hover colour stays blue over disabled items (not grey), and expansion arrows turn white when hovered (instead of staying black).)

  5. Roland says:

    The new gold bar is a welcome improvement! It's no longer distracting – in fact, it might even be too subtle now (like Paul Thurrott wrote also).

    What some (only novice) users might find confusing: Are the Yes and No buttons related to the help question ("Why am I seeing this?")? Instead of the help question, just a help icon (question mark) would be less distracting and clearer, I think. As the help question is blue and a hyperlink, the user's attention might focus to it first instead of the actual question. In addition, I'd move the close button to the upper right corner (below the gold ribbon) because X in upper right corner always means "close" in Windows.

  6. Roland says:

    I'd like to see a 16×16 IE icon to the left of the question to make it clear that it's IE showing this dialog and not the Web page ("Is it really IE asking me this question? Can I trust this dialog?"). Over time, users might learn to subconsciously pay attention whenever the IE icon appears in the bottom of the browser. Or, instead of the IE icon, display an icon according to the event (icon symbolizing add-ons, a blocked pop-up, saved password, etc.). For example, currently, the user each time has to read the question to find out what type of notification is displayed. If an additional icon is displayed, he could see at a glance the type of notification and quickly ignore it if desired ("Ah, just the Pop-up Blocker icon, I'll ignore this notification").

  7. Shiv Kumar says:

    Does this mean the ActiveX download and pop up blocked notifications now going to appear towards the bottom?

    I understand consistency but it seems you're going from the top to the bottom? How is that consistent?

    Honestly, the top is less obtrusive to content and at the same time, does get the user's attention.

    It looks to me like the UI/UX design is being done mechanically. You look at telemetry and apply software engineering logic rather than UI/UX design. It's like your back button logic, because a lot of people use the back button, let's make it bigger. They're already using it! I'm sure if you asked the Chrome folks they'd tell you that a lot of people use the back button too. They use it because of the way the web works.

    Take a look at the tool bar you have. You've got back and forward buttons on one side of the address bar. You've got the refresh and stop button on the other side of the tool bar and you've got the home button on the far right. If you want to make things simple and easy to find, keep them all on the same side.

  8. Shiv Kumar says:

    I like Roland's idea about the icon. Icons will help identify the kind of notification.

    I think a more readable notification will be one that isn't so wide and narrow. It it were more like a dialog (in dimensions) and showed to the bottom left or right (yes it will be taller) the text will be more legible (narrower block of text are more legible than wider blocks)

  9. Jesper says:

    I like the look, but aren't these notifications easily faked? In this way, maybe they're no worse than IE8 and before (except for the beveled page border that IE8 used to have so that you could tell whether the bar was part of the browser chrome or the page).

    Firefox now uses hard-to-fake balloons emanating from the browser chrome, from outside the rendered page, precisely to not be easily faked inside the page. Have you considered this approach in the name of security, which you otherwise tout as a big concern?

  10. hdw says:

    You forgot to remove the most annoying blocking dialog of all , the Save Webpage dialog

    please IE team how hard is it to fix this?

  11. xer says:

    I agree that the new notification bar should have icons, and I tend to not read it at all when its at the bottom… why is it floating over your page? Shouldn't it appear as part of the browser or system instead of a web advertisement?

  12. xer says:

    Also I should add that in the video the lady mentions how less distracting and annoying the notification bar is… but in the example she shows where it asks you if you want to save your password, if you try to ignore it and click on a link… the notification should go away! Its very annoying that the notifcation "advertisement" is still hovering there as long as you try to ignore it even if you clearly trying to ignore it by not clicking it.

  13. Doug says:

    Hi Ritika,

    can BHO developer use this notification bar through an API or anything else or is it microsoft internal like the info bar in IE8/7?

  14. DT says:

    Technically, if you have the status bar turned on, the notification does come up over the status bar rather than starting at the top of it, which is something I don't believe web pages can emulate. Unfortunately the status bar is turned off by default so in general people don't currently gain even this token indication of trustworthiness.

    I seem to remember someone commenting that notification of the type IE8 and IE9 uses will always be spoofable so there isn't too much point in being overly focussed on that point as there isn't anything that can be done about it, but anchoring them to areas webpages cannot access is a reasonable shot at that, for all that this probably won't connect with a number of people who may be able to be taken in by similar-looking notifications just showing up in that general area. Sadly, with the emphasis that is being placed on space for the page in this version so far, I don't see this happening.

    I can understand the desire of netbook/tablet users to have page space given a premium, but they aren't the only users. Personally, I'm still not used to downloads being "out of the way" yet. I suspect that users with small screens have an easier time seeing the notification show up, but it isn't where I'm looking at on my computer – I'm going to have to train myself to look to the bottom of the screen when I attempt to download things, and that doesn't really sit well with me.

  15. Esben Sundgaard says:

    Thank you for the shortcuts tip to interact with the notification bar! I fired the question on connect and just got the answer that the notification bar was focused by default and that I could use Tab to interact with it (which it not true). Now that I know these shortcuts I think the notification bar is much better than notifications in earlier versions of IE :-)

  16. someone says:

    Sorry but I completely disagree. The previous information bar introduced in XP Service Pack 2 was non-intrusive and effective at notifying the user. The current "notifications bar" is too quiet, if I have muted my sound, many times I have failed to notice that the bar has appeared and only notice it when I realize it's blocking some part of my webpage (another flawed design, you have no right to cover any part of the page with your bar). By putting it in the lower part of the page, it now gets in the way, not out of the way forcing me to interact with it instead of the previous design where the user was at liberty to ignore it. If you can't do good design, let the users have it their way and put the bar back on top.

  17. thenonhacker says:

    SECURITY: Notification Bar Can Be Spoofed By Malicious Websites.

    While it has a non-obtrusive nature now, there is no way I can differentiate real Notification Bars and Fake Notification Bars made by skillful Web Developers.

    MOST LIKELY CONSEQUENCES:

    - Websites spoofing the notification bar to encourage clicking on ads

    - Fake, but convincing file download prompts of malware

    POSSIBLE SOLUTION:

    Notification Bars should be moved 20-30 pixels downward, and should stay on top of all windows, including the Windows Taskbar. This is because it's impossible to render a fake Notification Bar outside the bounds of the browser viewport.

    Look at how Firefox is tackling this issue:

    people.mozilla.com/…/newNotification-i1.png

    (FILED IN IE9 Feedback Program at connect.microsoft.com/…/security-notification-bar-can-be-spoofed-by-malicious-websites )

  18. thenonhacker says:

    @Shiv Kumar: You didn't read the article didn't you? Notifications at the bottom is better. The problem with the Top Yellow Bar Notifications is that when it appears, it moves the page down (very ugly), and many websites are spoofing it, making users think that the notifications are real and not traps to download malware.

  19. Mario says:

    i am still using internet explorer 8. and i have a question (Maybe Off-Topic) I go on alot of websites and ie8 doesn't crash till i open up another website like after i visited 5 websites over and over again i stops responding on me i hope this is happening to others that still using ie8 if it is i REALLY Wish Microsoft would make a hotfix or something to stop ie8 stop doing that… and my computer has only 2GB of free space. windows 7. 64-bit. and windows did crash on me 20 times in the past after i removed McAfee internet security from my computer so i started windows in last known good settings. but than again i should use my windows disk and have it Reformated

  20. Drew says:

    I have to disagree.  

    1) There is definitely a security problem with people faking the notification bar for malware.

    2) My mouse stays at the top half of my browser most of the time.  If I want content at the bottom half, I scroll to bring it up.  Now my mouse will be going from the top to the bottom a lot more to get rid of or respond to notifications.  Doesn't sound fun for me.

  21. suc says:

    why does the Page Zoom button is no longer present in IE9 ?

  22. Clue says:

    thenonhacker, Drew, Jesper– DT is correct. Any browser UI can be spoofed– this is a fact and has always been true.

    Even browser UI (like the address bar) that does not appear near the page is spoofable, a fact which security researchers have written about for years. Google "picture in picture attack" for one popular paper on the topic.

    Firefox's proposed UI is also entirely spoofable, and even ignoring a PIP attack (let's say a bad guy is lazy), less than 1% of users would know the difference between an arrow overlaying a few dozen pixels of chrome or not. It's embarassing for Mozilla that they either don't know this or refuse to admit it.

    This is one of those amusing security problems where "smart" people think they know how to make an unspoofable design, and thus "smart" people turn off their brains and get spoofed because they think they understand what can be spoofed and what can't, and, inevitably, they're wrong.

    Microsoft can block bad sites with their phishing filter.

  23. Viktor Krammer says:

    If you disable or uninstall Flash, the notification shows up every time you visit a page with Flash.

    Suggestion: Please allow to hide the add-on installation notifications, either for all sites or on a per site basis.

  24. Matt says:

    >Not racist

    It's amusing how statements like "I'm not racist" are always immediately followed by statements that can be  trivially summed up as "I'm an ignorant racist coward."

  25. Harry Richter says:

    I would like to see the notifications 2 pixels smaller! Have a look at http://www.mineralogie.at/…/notification.png and see why! I have the status bar enabled, and the developper tools minimized at the bottom. Now the notifications reside right on to of them (which is very hard if not impossible to spoof!), and were they two pixels smalle, I would loose nothing of the actual screen estate.

    Please someone enlighten me: HOW does one spoof this?

    Harry

  26. Parrotlover77 says:

    My $0.02.

    The new notification bar is so "quiet" that sometimes I don't even noticate anything happened.  I'm just madly clicking on the #$@!!#@ download link and nothing happens.  No flashing, nothing to center my attention on this new "quiet" notification bar that looks so similar to web ads (really?  A block centered at the bottom over site contnet???) that my brains completely ignores it.  After a full week of using IE9 I'm just now starting to get used to its positioning.  At the bottom or on the top, I don't really care persay, but this focus on being website centric has made IE9 TOO quiet.  If I click on a download link, then click again because it doesn't work, it would seem to make sense to flash the window in an attention grabbing manner so I know there is something waiting my input.

    Also, the "a plugin may be slowing down your web page" happens far too often.  My web browsing experience is fine, I don't need IE to keep bothering me about how much awesomer it could be.  If I click ignore, honor that request!

    Also… What's with MS these days and just completely eliminating any possible way to get old behavior back in a product?  If I want the old notification bar, why can't that be an advanced option?  The same goes for the tab status bar (almost useless compared to the plethora of information on the old one), isolated address and search bars (no easy to access memory of my previous search terms, so I have to type it over to use a new search engine or CTRL+F find <– crappy UX), no page title on the title bar (tons of wasted space), and on and on in many other MS products.

    I don't like having to relearn a product on every version release.  It's getting annoying.

  27. Drake says:

    @Harry Richter

    In your case it would be difficult but WIE9 ships without the Developer Tools (obvious reasons) and Status Bar (unclear) on by default.  Assuming this layout it is not hard to write a page that would display a floating element of the same size and style just above the very bottom part of the border-frame to mimic the genuine dialog.

    If the WIE Team are definitely going to stick with the Notification Bar, rather than the Information Bar, model then I'd like to see it change as follows:

      • As has been request, add an icon on the left to quickly identify the problem type;

      • Make the bar fill the entire width of the browser, not float in the middle;

      • Make the browseable part of the page shrink so that the bar is not over the webpage but under (i.e. so the scrollbar and webpage area decrease in vertical length above the bar).  More difficult to spoof an element completely outside the page.

    Have to agree with posters that the pop-up balloon style of the new Firefox Beta is nice.  Wouldn't it make more sense though to have the notification come from the Tab it is relevant to though, not from a [Page] button?

  28. suc says:

    instead ammassing all the tabs on 1 only row, please use 2 rows: the first row for the first 10 tab opened, and the second for the rest of tabs

  29. Joel says:

    This new notification bar shows the lack of ideas vs. reality that MSFT suffers from.

    Yes, the new bar is less distracting, and doesn't go away upon navigation. Yippee!… well, wait, no… that's actually 2 wrongs.

    1.) If there was no purpose  to the notification ever showing, then it would simply make sense to remove it… but that isn't the case… the notification contains potentially important info depending on the user and the scenario.

    Users are reading the page from top to bottom, where the most important info typically comes first in the hierarchy. (its also descending in specificity…. Windows Chrome > Application Controls > **Website Information** > Website Header > Website Content, posts, comments, sub-comments > Website Footer.

    IE9 tries to pull that out of context and put the **Website Information** after the Websites content.

    The problem is that this means that the notification *will* be ignored almost every time. Hmm, web app not loading completely/properly?.. sorry user… no helpful bar at the top of the page in the best real-estate position to inform you that some HTTP content was blocked since you are on an HTTPS connection. Keep in mind IE controls the chrome here, and has the ability to overlay the message over the content, or push the content down.  The reveal/hide of this content can be animated nicely too so as to not cause a jarring experience.

    2.) The other problem with lingering messages is that you lose context to what they were about (a major well documented Usability Issue) and you run into issues when multiple apply.  e.g. if IE is offering to save the users password, AND inform the user that HTTP content didn't load AND a popup was blocked AND of the 4 active downloads 2 are done, 1 has errors and 1 hasn't started.  One can only guess how messed up this will get.  The chrome download(s) bar is quite fine for ongoing, non-page-specific information… but the rest of the content belongs at the top of the screen where users can see it.

    Finally the other issue is that it isn't noticeable at all… it needs to fade in or animate or both.

  30. meandmycode says:

    The google chrome top bar is a much better notification experience, it actually feels like a notification, I foresee A LOT of exploits popping up by sites exploiting this easily mimic-able notification, which imo is FAR too subtle.. the first time I downloaded a file my thoughts were .. "uh, so what happened…. oh, I see".

    The google chrome notifications feel confident and matches behaviour users expect (the irony is you guys slagged off that style but this is what windows explorer does).. I'm really sad you guys are posting with videos so confidently about these ideas being good and correct, it makes me feel like there isn't a chance in the world you'll retract them.

    Experimenting with ideas is great, and its awesome you guys have so many stats and user studies you can use to 'prove' things, but don't feel that 'assertion' makes you correct, you could well have looked at things from completely the wrong angle.

  31. jabcreations says:

    I do think IE9 has made some GUI progress in some small ways. In example Firefox's full-screen toggle automatically forces the page to render during the forced animation (which can be MANUALLY disabled in about:config) making the page completely inaccessible during the animation, wasting resources, and wasting space in general.

    I'm not sure about having anything except for the status bar at the bottom though…that I think comes down to personal preference.

    Again the GUI in regards to the toolbars is a total nightmare so while I really do like the fact that actual thought was put in to the save password GUI item do not confuse that positive comment with my (and the endless other people's) criticisms of the toolbar nightmare.

    IE Team, fix the toolbars and we can give you folks more positive comments and feedback because I for one at least would much rather have positive feedback then criticisms.

  32. Prior Semblance says:

    I almost never notice the new notifications. I'm usually looking at the top half of my screen when they pop up and half the time it blends in too well with the website.  There really wasn't anything wrong with the old ones.

  33. Drake says:

    @Prior Semblance

    Agreed!  Sometimes it's just a case of "change for change's sake".

  34. Selcuk says:

    In my experiences with IE9, it is way too subtle..

    Especially File Saving one… I click and click, not noticing this bar ever… May be I could not get used to it but I think improvement on "File Saving" at least could be better, may be it might have been moved to top… But definitely it should be more "visible"… One thing for sure, it is much less annoying than Google's "Do you want to translate this page" dialogs…

  35. pmbAustin says:

    I haven't been able to get flash to work in IE9 yet, no matter what version I try (even the beta), or how many times I uninstall and re-install.  No idea what's going on there, so I can't speak to those notifications.

    What I can speak to is one thing that I find annoying:  when navigating to a site (say, msnbc.com) that ALWAYS has an initial pop-up, I *always* get the notification that the pop-up was blocked.  Since I never want to see that pop up, I'd like the ability to silence that notification forever.  Just as you can specify "always show pop-ups from this site", can't you add "never show pop-ups from this site" and "never show pop-ups from this page"?  The latter would be very useful for sites that always do a pop-up, but which might have other parts of the UI on subsequent pages in pop-ups that you might want to temporarily enable.

    Anyway, I find it annoying to have to go close that notification every time I visit certain sites.

    On the download-file notifications, I'm not sure how it picks the folder it saves to by default, but my experience so far is that it's ALWAYS the wrong folder.  There must be some way to be better about it… like doing a better job of remembering the last location a file was saved to, or better yet, keeping track of which locations go with which file types (extensions) or which sites… like all pictures will default download to My Pictures, but all EXEs will download to "Downloads", or whatever.  I invariably have to click the little 'down arrow' to allow me to choose "save as"… and just as invariably I forget to do that, and have to end up moving the file.

    I know a lot of people like download managers, but so far, the IE8 experience has been smoother for me than the IE9 experience.  But I think just a few minor tweaks like the ones I described would make things much, much better.

  36. Ian says:

    You guys need to stop promoting your browser as individual browser packages, just call it Internet Explorer, the version # is irrelevant, its still Internet Explorer. Just call it Internet Explorer, and when you finish a feature send it out in a quick patch. I just call Chrome by its name, I call Firefox by its name, and I call Safari by its name. Why? because they release often, and in the case of Chrome, it updates itself so I don't have to realize the fact that I installed Chrome 3.2 and it's now 6.0.427. Separating the different versions of IE, rather than doing quick and reliable updates is slowing down your progress and also leaving your users vulnerable until the next version in certain cases, you have to package the 9.0.1 security fixes in the background while users are browsing and/or via Windows Update.

  37. thenonhacker says:

    @Ian: You really have big problems with versioning.

  38. Justin says:

    I've been having an issue with the webmail sites we have to use as our email client at work.  I'm getting the "Only secure content is displayed" bar at the bottom fairly frequently–even with the "Display MIxed Content" enabled in my settings.  It's really frustrating, because I can't see anything unless I hit "yes" (display all content), which refreshes the window.

    Is there any way to make it the default to display all content on specific sites like a webmail client?  With every single image or even certain fonts triggering this message, it's gotten annoying fast.

    Thanks!

  39. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @Justin: In which Zone did you set the setting to "Display mixed content"? To decrease your security and remove the prompts, you must set the setting to Enable in the Zone *from* which the insecure resources are delivered. That may be a different zone than the webmail page itself.  blogs.msdn.com/…/https-mixed-content-in-ie8.aspx has a fuller explanation of that

    Here's a simple test page: http://www.fiddler2.com/…/securepageinsecurescript.htm

    @pmbAustin: What are the symptoms of the Flash control not working?  If the problem is that it's only drawing a white box instead of drawing the content, this is likely a known problem in the beta Flash control in IE9, whereby it does not paint if IE's hardware acceleration is disabled.

  40. Steve says:

    I'd like to 2nd @thenonhacker's comments above (3 up from here) about fixing the IE9 notifications to take advantages of lessons learned and solutions found in the Firefox notifications example.  The example provided in the linked image: people.mozilla.com/…/newNotification-i1.png show a massive improvement in security, Usability and Fitz Law, etc.

    I'd love to see this layout in IE9 when for example HTTP content is served up on an HTTPS site…  a small balloon notification in the top right, in the page context, allowing the user to download the insecure content if desired.

  41. Justin says:

    @Eric:  Thanks for the reply!  I've enabled mixed content from all zones, but I still get the notification.  It's more problematic than that, though–until I hit the "show all content" in the notification bar, I can't see any content in any email.  Even closing the bar doesn't do anything–I have to refresh and deal with the bar again.  We're using Outlook Web Access.

  42. EricLaw says:

    @Justin: Do you have the same problem at the test page I provided, or does that page work without a prompt?  thx.

  43. Justin says:

    @Eric: I get a popup window saying "Unsecure!" and the page doesn't load until I hit OK, but then the page loads without any notification bar.

  44. EricLaw says:

    @Justin: That suggests that the Mixed Content isn't getting blocked on the test page, which means you may be hitting a bug with the OWA scenario. Can you hit F12 to open the developer tools, click the Console tab, then hit F5 to refresh the page? You should see a bunch of entries like: "SEC7111: HTTPS security is compromised by <url>".  Can you email me (ericlaw at microsoft) the results?  thanks!

  45. leoberto says:

    to me, all the notification area should be colored in yellow, red or whatever. there's a lot of times I don't even realize the bar is there.

  46. Xennan says:

    I am surprised by the amount of negative reactions on this topic. I think the new notification bar is great. And it is certainly not "too subtle". It is a relief to have the possibility to continue surfing and handle the notification later. Keep on the good work and don't get too distracted by the nay-sayers.

  47. pmbAustin says:

    EricLaw [MSFT] :  Whether I install the released version of Adobe Flash plugin (10.x) or the new beta version designed for IE9, the install seems to be successful.  However, there's no indication that IE9 knows its there.  Anywhere.  It doesn't show up in the list of add-ons, and when I visit a page with flash, nothing happens.  At all.  I don't just get a white box… I'll get whatever.  For example, a site with a flash game has a GIF with a little animated "loading bar" that comes up before the flash paints over it.  I just get that.  Right-clicking on where the flash content should be doesn't bring up the flash context menu, but the context menu of whatever is there in its place (either an image, or just like right-clicking on a blank part of a page).  I have hardware graphic acceleration enabled (at least I did nothing to disable it).  This is on a laptop with Intel Integrated Graphics 4500 series.  Other apsects of hardware acceleration work fine (like when I go to your sites that show off IE9's capabilities).   I see no errors, and have no clue.  I've posted on Adobe forums, but they haven't been able to help me.  I've uninstalled and reinstalled, and nothing.  This is on Windows 7 32bit, btw.

    That answered, I'd like to make one more point about the 'pop-up blocker' functionality.  Right now, IE will block a page that tries to pop open a new window when I click on a specific link (this is different from automatic popups that some sites do).  I'd like a setting where auto-pop-ups are disabled, but if I'm actively clicking on a link, I can get my pop up.  Even something like just holding down SHIFT or CTRL while clicking to make the pop-up blocker allow the new window would be fine.  It's very frustrating to have to go through the entire process of "temporarily allow popups from this site" to just get ONE pop up I want ONE time.  Half the time I get frustrated enough to just copy the link and then open a new tab and paste it in.  Sheesh.  That's an overly-agressive pop-up blocker that won't let me tell it to get the heck out of my way just this one time because I know what I'm doing.  Again, put the user back in control here!

  48. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @pmbAustin: The IE popup blocker already has the features you describe, and they should be on-by-default. Specifically, when you click a link (what we call a "user-initiated action"), we automatically allow a popup. Similarly, if you hold CTRL+ALT, the popup manager is bypassed.

    Inside Tools > Internet Options > Privacy, Popup Blocker | Settings, what is the state of the drop-down at the bottom? The default is "Medium", and it has the auto-allow and the CTRL+ALT overrides.

  49. pmbAustin says:

    I've used IE8 since the beginning, and my setting is set to "Medium" and I cannot count the number of times I've clicked on a link only to be told the pop-up was blocked.  Really frustrating.  And I'm not sure how I was supposed to know it was "Ctrl+Alt" … how unintuitive is that?  I tried every combination of ctrl-click, alt-click, and shift-click to no avail… I've never see anything that said it was Ctrl+Alt-click, and that just seems amazingly hidden and awkward.

    So from my years of experience, none of that works or is acceptable.  This is on four different machines, BTW.  And the default should be just Ctrl-Click or Shift-Click or Alt-Click.  Why the two-key combo?!?

  50. pmbAustin says:

    EricLaw, I just came across an example where directly cliking a link just gives the 'pop-up blocked' notification rather than opening the window as desired:  when an embedded youtube video (say, on facebook or on someone's blog) has "embedding disabled".  Clicking on the link is supposed to bring you to YouTube to watch the video.  No amoung of clicking the link will get you there.

    But I did verify that the ctrl-alt-click thing works… but I didn't remember it (not intuitive!) so I went through a couple of other combinations of shift/alt/ctrl before hitting on it.  Really, why the TWO key combination?  Do the other single key combinations all have functtions?  Because I'm not aware of what they might be…

  51. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @pmbAustin: I don't really have the full history on the popup-blocker hotkey; it was that way since IE joined the IE team in 2004. CTRL+Click opens a link in a background tab, and some extensions use ALT+Click for other purposes.

    I'm not sure I know which repro you're talking about vis-a-vis the YouTube video– if the click is actually going into the Flash applet itself, then the Flash applet needs to be setting the user-initiated action flag in order to bypass the popup blocker.

  52. dolmen says:

    That's quite unfair to not credit other software/people from which you took the design ideas.

  53. Pinkwho says:

    Not sure where to leave this… Is anyone else miffed that I can't have a full complement of tabs AND the full address bar??? I like to see the full address, it tells me so much more the lay people and it bothers me that I can't see it and my tabs. I have to choose???

  54. Pinkwho says:

    than* lay people (as an IT person / web developer)

  55. Kris Mac says:

    I find it so quiet that i dont actually notice it, even when i want to.

    I like the "bar style" non intrusive approach but i feel placing it at the bottom means that users dont actually see it at all