South by SouthWest (SxSW) has become a major event. Originally it was a place for musicians and filmmakers to get together and show off their skills. Now, it has become one of the world's largest interactive media festivals, with everyone from RadioShack to GM in attendance. To ensure that it is all that it can be this year, Microsoft has decided to use this event to launch its next generation web browser, Internet Explorer 9.
IE9 is the first Microsoft browser to support the upcoming HTML5 standard, which has been causing some controversy from Google. It also includes hardware acceleration, which allows the browser to render video better than any current browser. If you want to experience the magic now, you can head over to Internet Explorer Test Drive and get the Release Candidate, or wait until it launches fully next week and then check it out.
For some of the best features of the new browser, hit the break.
My absolute favorite feature is the Windows 7 Jump List feature. If you dock a website to your taskbar like you would with a normal application, it becomes a web application and you can access a lot of the features afforded to desktop apps, so long as the website has enabled them. For example, if you dock PLuGHiTz Live! to your taskbar in IE9, you can right-click on the link and jump directly to The UpStream, Radio/Podcasts, Audio Downloads, Video and Events. With Facebook, you can access News, Messages, Events and Friends before you even open the browser. The websites can also push notifications to your taskbar, so if you have a message, Facebook can let you know without having to fully open your screen.
I also like the integrated video playing. Now you don't have to have Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silverlight installed on your computer to play a video, like YouTube. The browser has all of that built-in, so no more third party components to do what we already do on the Internet. While this is a general feature of HTML5, not everyone has pulled it off well so far, so we will see how accepted it becomes in the near future.
If these features aren't enough for you, Microsoft promises "a few surprises left" to be announced at SxSW ahead of the launch party complete with rocker Yeasayer performing. So, this all leads me to ask - are you excited to see the new Internet Explorer in action? Let us know in the comments section!