Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has confirmed that the company plans to launch Internet Explorer 9 “in the next month or so.”
Speaking during a developers day at Microsoft Switzerland on Wednesday, Ballmer revealed that Internet Explorer 9 would be available very soon. “There’s a lot of great things going on broadly, enhancements that we’ve made, not only in Windows but Internet Explorer 9 which will be available here in the next month or so.” Ballmer says Internet Explorer 9 is a “great piece of work” and that “it will be the best browser…that you’ve ever used.”
Ballmer’s hint that Internet Explorer 9 could be available as soon as mid-March lends weight to rumors that the company will launch the final version at the South by southwest (SXSW) music and film festival in Austin, Texas on March 14. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 team are planning to host a Internet Explorer 9 party during SXSW. The party will be held on March 14 and will include free drinks and music performances from Yeasayer, The Head and The Heart, and Fences. Microsoft also teased a “special press pre-event” with its invitations sent to press and analysts on Thursday.
Microsoft revealed on Wednesday that Internet Explorer 9 Release Candidate (RC) has reached 2 million downloads just a few days after its release. The software maker launched its final development milestone version of Internet Explorer 9 on February 10. Microsoft’s main change in Internet Explorer 9 RC is the addition of Tracking Protection. The new privacy feature allows consumers to address their concerns about being tracked on the web. Internet Explorer 9 RC offers users a new opt-in mechanism to identify and block many forms of undesired tracking such as cookies, web beacons, advertisements and trackers. Tracking protection involves lists that can be published online.
Microsoft’s second security enhancement is the ability to block ActiveX controls. Internet Explorer 9 RC includes an “ActiveX filter” option. The filter allows users to switch off ActiveX elements within their session, furthering Microsoft’s commitment to security within its browser.
Microsoft also unveiled Internet Explorer 9 for mobile earlier this week. The company is planning to ship the software as part of a platform release and update for Windows Phone later this year. Internet Explorer 9 mobile is currently part of “Mango”, the codename for the next Windows Phone release expected to be named 7.5. Internet Explorer 9 mobile will be identical to Microsoft’s desktop browser according to the company and will allow Windows Phone to take advantage of the latest advances in web technologies, including HTML5. Microsoft is also likely to ship a Silverlight runtime inside of IE9 mobile but the company is refusing to comment until its MIX11 conference in April.