If you haven’t noticed, IE9 public beta has been released (download it here). Please, don’t be scared by the title of my post and avoid using the beta. I’m going to step through a few compatibility tricks to make sure you can enjoy the beta until the rest of the web gets ready for IE9.
Why Don’t Some Sites Work?
By default, IE9 will display sites using a new rendering engine and script engine. These engines support the latest web standards and are different than what IE8 supported. Most sites do support the latest browsers that implement latest standards. However, the most common issue is sites use browser detection logic to decide what content to deliver to a browser. If the site delivers IE8 specific content instead of standards based content, the site may appear broken. Over time, site developers will update their sites to fix this mismatch.
If you find a site that doesn’t work, the IE encourages you to submit feedback. This helps identify bugs and identify top sites that may have issues. You can do this two ways.
Option 1: Use the Send Feedback menu option in IE9 Beta by clicking the Tools “Gear” | Send Feedback option:
Option 2: Submit feedback through the Microsoft beta program site for IE: https://connect.microsoft.com/ie
Quick Fix #1 – Compatibility View
IE9 includes the brand new rendering engine but it also includes two previous rendering engines as well. So, you can display individual sites in “Compatibility View” and it should work as it did in IE before.
To add a site to Compatibility View, click the Compatibility View button in the address bar:
This will cause the IE to behave a lot like IE7. Note that we get the “Download Now” button because the site thinks we are running IE7. If you select the Compatibility View button, IE9 will add this site to the local compatibility view list and will remember next time you visit the site to behave like IE7 (until you uncheck the compatibility view button). This is a bit of a “big hammer” approach. However, in most cases, this will fix most issues until the site developers update the site to be IE9 friendly.
Quick Fix #2 – Disable Add-ons
Add-ons are things like toolbars and browser helper objects (BHO). They are extension applications that provide extra functionality to the browser. You probably have a bunch of add-ons that were added by software applications that you didn’t even know were there. After installing the beta, misbehaving add-ons can cause hangs, crashes, performance issues, etc.
To quickly find out if you have an add-on issue, launch IE in No Add-on mode. Search for “add-on” in the Start menu:
Browse to the site with the issue. If the issue doesn’t occur, you probably have an issue with an add-on.
The next step is to figure out what add-on is causing the issue. To manage add-ons, click the Tools “Gear” | Manage Add-ons option:
In the Manage add-on dialog, try disabling individual add-ons. You should be able to figure out the issue by a simple trial and error process.
Quick Fix #3 – Update Graphics Driver / Disable Hardware Acceleration
Internet Explorer 9 takes advantage of graphics card to improve performance through hardware acceleration. If you don’t have the latest driver installed for your graphics card, you may run into problems with graphics acceleration.
The first option you should try is check your hardware manufacturer’s website for the latest graphics card driver. Be sure you have the latest driver installed for your graphics card.
The second option to try is to disable hardware acceleration. This can be found in Tools "Gear" | Internet Options | Advanced tab.
Check the "Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering" checkbox. This will force IE to disable graphics hardware acceleration. If this solves the problem, you may need to wait until your graphics hardware vendor releases a new driver before you can use hardware acceleration in IE9.
More Details for Developers (and the Curious)
If you’re a site developer or want to try to figure out more about the issue, the built in developer tools can be very helpful.
Browse to the site and press F12.
Notice the top menu contains the Browser and Document Mode. These modes control how IE9 renders the content. You can also use Tools | Change user agent string to try tricking browser detection logic. For example, if you change the user agent string to Chrome, the web site will likely send standards based content because it thinks the browser is Chrome.
See Compatibility Features for Developers for more information.
I hope I’ve given you enough information to work through any issue. But I understand that you might want to uninstall IE9 and revert back to IE8. If you choose to uninstall IE, here are the steps:
1. Open Control Panel | Uninstall a Program.
2. Click “View installed updates” in the left pane:
3. Find “Windows Internet Explorer 9” in the list. You can use the search box to quickly find it. Click Uninstall in the menu bar.
I hope this information helps while using IE9 Beta!