Like Neowin, I'm hearing from my sources that Microsoft is planning to make available for download later today, June 23, its third technical preview (i.e., pre-beta) of Internet Explorer 9.
Back in March, the IE 9 team committed to providing developers with updates to its IE 9 code every eight weeks. The team delivered its first developer preview in March, 2010, and made a public commitment to providing more support for emerging HTML5, CSS3 and SVG2 standards with the product. The most recent developer preview was released to the Web in early May. These previews, available from Microsoft's IE 9 test drive site, have allowed developers to measure Microsoft's progress on performance and standards-compliance, as it refines the next version of its browser.
It sounds like today's tech preview will be more of the same. I asked Microsoft officials for comment as to their plans earlier this week and got a no comment.
Here's what I'm more interested in than today's tech preview, however. According to blogger Francisco Martin (who has had a pretty good track record with his internal information about the Softies' schedules), this IE 9 tech preview may be the last. Martin says Microsoft could release an actual Beta 1 of IE 9 in August -- assuming no push backs in the current schedule.
If August really is when Microsoft will deliver a first beta of IE 9, I'd think that would mean we'll see more of what the user interface for its next browser will look like. It also means IE 9 really could be released to the Web in 2011, as my sources have said previously is the goal.
Microsoft supposedly isn't planning to release Windows 8/Windows v.Next until 2012, according to the rumors I've heard. If that really does end up being the ship date, the gap between the next version of IE and Windows will be even lengthier than it was with IE 8 and Windows 7.
Microsoft officials have declined repeatedly to provide official information on the beta or final ship targets for IE 9 and/or Windows 8.
Meanwhile, while on the topic of betas and previews, I've heard from some of the invited testers of Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 that they are now able to download the Beta bits. A public beta of SP1 for Windows 7/WS 2008 R2 is slated for July, the Softies have said. I hear it's timed to hit around mid-July, the same time Microsoft is holding its Worldwide Partner Conference.