By Paul Hartsock
TechNewsWorld      09/18/10

With ever-increasing heat coming from up-and-comers Firefox and Chrome, Microsoft has its work cut out for it when it comes to IE9, the next version of its Web browser. Users got a sneak peek this week courtesy of an open beta. Meanwhile, Twitter redesigned its interface, Craigslist reconsidered Adult Services, and Nokia rearranged the C-Suite.

Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) Internet Explorer has had a lead in the Web browser battle for years, and that lead is still alive, but it’s not well. IE has been losing some serious market share over the last few years, mostly because of young Turks like Firefox and Chrome. Not helping matters is the fact that the ancient IE6 browser is still tottering around like a sick old dog that won’t die on its own, and it seems nobody has the heart to put it to sleep.

So Microsoft’s pressing on with a public beta release of its next-generation browser, IE9. The goal is lighter and faster. Faster because that’s just what every browser is after these days – life is short, gotta shave those nanoseconds off rendering time. Lighter because this time around, Microsoft has emphasized that the webpage is the star of the show. The browser should give you as much window space as possible, sorta like Chrome, and then fade into the background once you’re there.

IE9 has support for HTML 5, as well as a download manager and a panel for overseeing add-ons, which can sometimes be a drain on system resources if they’re not managed properly. The new browser can also be tightly integrated with Windows 7 functions. You can pin sites to the taskbar and move tabs around with that Aero Snap split-screen feature you get in Windows 7.

Keep in mind, though, that it’s still a work in progress. Nobody’s committed to a date on the final version.