I’m a user. Here’s my story as a user…
It all started back in September 1997. Like 90+% of the people using the Internet back then, I was a Netscape user. There was the other browser from a company called Microsoft called Internet Explorer 3. I tried it, but it was a joke compared to Netscape. But that September, Internet Explorer 4 came out, and as far as I was concerned, it was way better to use. I made the switch from Netscape to IE and I loved it.
A lot of other people did too. Many switched for reasons that were considered controversial: IE4 was a part of Windows, and therefore the path of least resistance for the rapidly growing consumer population that was just ‘discovering’ the Internet for the first time. Like it or not, in a year or so, IE had reversed places with Netscape and essentially had 90% of the Internet population using it.
In December 1998, I joined Microsoft. As a new employee, I saw IE5, IE5.5, and IE6 come out with new features and refinements over IE4.
Then in late 2002, early 2003, IE6 started experiencing all sorts of security issues. A new browser called Firefox popped up on the scene. I dabbled with it, but most websites just didn’t work in it or would look funny. I continued to use IE6.
IE6 SP2 came out in August 2004 and pretty much nipped the major security issues (drive-by malware downloads) in the bud. By this time, most websites had adjusted themselves so that they worked in Firefox. I was never personally impacted by the IE6 security issues. But, I switched over to Firefox as my primary browser for one reason: because I liked tabbed browsing. Period.
A lot of folks, especially tech enthusiasts, enjoyed Firefox for its large ecosystem of plug-ins that added extra functionality the browser didn’t have. I tried a some plugins. They were neat. But I really wanted a simple browsing experience, so I didn’t use many. Not to mention that plug-ins also slowed down the browser.
IE7 came out in October 2006. It had tabs. I switched back. Again, the lack of plugins didn’t bother me since I didn’t use many. IE7 had a new UI where the stodgy 90’s era “File|Edit|View” menu bar was removed for a more streamlined look. Firefox’s UI even looked dated to me!
In 2008, the browser competition was alive and well again. Firefox 3 came out that June. IE8 went into beta in March. And a new entry, Google’s Chrome, came out in December.
As a developer, I had all of these browsers installed on my machine, as well as Apple’s Safari. I rotated my usage between all of them, but IE8 was always my default browser. Firefox 3 was painfully slow IMHO, and its UI looked completely dated to me.
And now… a confession to make as a Microsoft employee: Since late 2009, I used Chrome as my default browser on my personal computer outside of work. I loved it’s speed and simple UI that just “got out of my way”. IE8 was great, and I continued to use it all of the time on my work machines.
Those are the three words I would use to best describe it. I’ve been back on IE9 full time on all machines, work AND personal, since then!
My user experience has been that IE9 is FAST! The new IE9 UI is even simpler, reducing the amount of screen real-estate it takes up. IE9 essentially gets out of the way and lets the website look like it’s almost a native Windows application. I won’t detail all of the new IE9 features like HTML5 support, pinned sites, new dev tools, etc. You can ready plenty about that elsewhere via posts many of my colleagues have posted the past day or two.
If you are a Windows 7 or Vista user, I will tell you to stop what you’re doing and go to http://www.beautyoftheweb.com and get IE9 NOW!
If you’re a developer, it’s time to put the kabosh on IE6 and help encourage your customers to move to IE9. Check out some great behind the scenes of IE9 videos up on Channel 9.
Congratulations to the IE Product Team for a great product release!
Note: My teammate Jim O’Neil has some important things you’ll want to know about updating your graphics driver before upgrading to IE9.