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IE 9 beta release date draws near

Microsoft hosts launch event in San Francisco Sept. 15

Circle Sept. 15 on your calendars for the beta launch of Windows Internet Explorer 9, as Microsoft executives hop on a quick flight from Redmond down to San Francisco for a kickoff event.

Microsoft’s chief operating officer, Kevin Turner, revealed a September launch at the company’s annual Financial Analyst Meeting July 29, but now we have a specific date.

Invitations went out today for the event, according to a blog post by James Pratt, an IE product manager at Microsoft. Pratt explained that the marketing message around IE 9 is that it delivers “the Beauty of the Web” to your computer.

More than 2.5 million preview versions of IE 9 have been downloaded -- four preview versions total -- since the first preview was released at Microsoft’s MIX10 developer event in Las Vegas back in March. Microsoft has been absorbing feedback from developers using the preview versions to help tweak the product.

Microsoft is boasting that IE 9 is going to be orders of magnitude faster than IE 8. When the fourth preview was released Aug. 4, PC World’s Tony Bradley reported that according to the Acid3 score, a measure of how quickly a browser loads Web pages, the fourth preview hit a 95, versus the IE 8 score of 20. At the core of IE 9 is a new JavaScript engine, codenamed Chakra, that runs natively in the browser “rather than bolting it onto the side to support multiple JavaScript engines as some other browsers do today,” Microsoft explained in a post on the IEBlog Aug. 4. IE 9 is built to support the HTML5 standard for delivering content on the Web.

IE 9 is coming to market just as Microsoft is regaining its market share against competitors like Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Opera. Internet Explorer held a 60.74 percent share of the market in July, according to NetApplications, after falling below the 60 percent mark in April and May. However, as Network World’s Paul McNamara reports, IE’s market share was as high as 68 percent a year ago and Google Chrome, while at just 7.61 percent, still tripled its market share from 2.59 percent over the same period.

And IE’s competitors aren’t just sitting around moping about how IE is the king of the hill. The Mozilla Foundation released a beta of Firefox 4.0 in July and Google today launched a beta version of Chrome 6.

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