Microsoft released the beta version of its latest web browser, Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), only a little over two weeks ago. However, since then we've been using the 32bit Windows Vista and 64bit Windows 7 versions every day in our routine web surfing.

Here are six things we've discovered we really like about IE9. And six which we think could use some more work before IE9 sees a final release.

Six things we like...

1. It's really fast

The overall web experience with IE9 definitely feels 'snappier' than previous versions of IE, especially when we tested both the 32bit and 64bit versions of IE9 on JavaScript-heavy sites such as Facebook and Gmail, and on Flash-based Web destinations including YouTube.

We tried the famous fish tank demo on the 32bit version of IE9 and on the latest 32bit Google Chrome beta. On a low-end laptop (a six year-old Dell running Vista), Chrome could only render 20 fish at a pitiful one frame per second (fps). Barely. IE9? Around 15 to 20fps.

Besides better coding, IE9 incorporates GPU acceleration - which basically means the browser passes on the heavy-duty processing of such web animations to your computer's graphics chipset.

2. Sharper looking font

IE9 features a new font set that makes small text easier to read. We found this very obvious when comparing Gmail on IE9 vs the latest Chrome beta. Not only was the font clearly darker and more legible on IE9, it was subtly narrower, enabling more text to occupy each line.

The font also scaled up, enlarging, quite well.

3. Web address + search bar = convenience

The URL address box pulls double duty as an internet search box. Type in a word or phrase, and you'll be presented with icons representing the search engines you have selected to be used directly within IE9. Click on a search engine's icon, hit 'Enter', and search results from that service will be shown inside the browser window.

We found this way in which IE9 handles multiple search engines quick and convenient.

NEXT PAGE: Tear-out tabs

  1. IE9 features we love
  2. Tear-out tabs
  3. Six areas that need work
  4. The new download manager