When it comes to Web browsers, I'm a Google Chrome fan. Before that I was a Firefox aficionado. I also thought though that Internet Explorer 8 was a real step forward. I'm also willing to believe that IE 9 will turn out pretty darn good too.
Based on my early play with it, I won't go as far as Ed Bott does with his praise for IE 9, but I do think Windows 7 users will get a lot out of it. Mind you, I think they should also look at Chrome as well, and Firefox 4 as well. And, if you're not running Windows 7--say you're running XP, Vista 64-bit, Mac OS X, or any Linux--you're not going to have any choice in the matter. IE 9 isn't available on any of them. No, there won't even be an IE 9 for Android.
In particular, it's not now, never has been, and never will be available on XP. For some reason though I keep hearing from XP fans who are up in arms that Microsoft isn't going to give them IE 9. Get over it already. Or, as Adrian Kingsley-Hughes put it so succinctly, "XP is dead people, time to get used to that."
Yes, yes, we all know that most people are still running XP. Microsoft knows that too. Why do you think they're using the IE 9 carrot to try to get people to upgrade to Windows 7?
I happen to like Windows 7, and yes I'm well known for preferring desktop Linux over any version of Windows, but this isn't about what I want, or what you want, or that XP SP3 still works just fine. This is all about Microsoft what wants and Microsoft wants you to get off the stick and spend your money on Windows 7.
Do you really think that Microsoft released a brand-new, still shiny public beta of IE 9 just before the doors shut forever on the Windows XP shop? I think not.
Mind you, there's a lot to like about how Windows 7 handles networking besides just being able to enjoy IE 9. HomeGroups, Easy Connect, Location-Aware Printing, and URL-based Quality of Service (QoS) are all great additions. If you're using Windows 7 Enterprise Edition and Windows Server 2008 R2, you'll get the even more enterprise helpful DirectAccess, which combines virtual private network (VPN) and IPv6 tunneling over IPv4 and BranchCache.
All these improvements have one thing in common: Unless you're a network administrator, you're not likely to notice them. A spiffy new Web browser, perhaps even in beta the Microsoft has ever delivered, that, now that, people will notice.
Still not enough reason to move to Windows 7? Well, may I re-recommend Chrome? Because, I'll tell you right now, the only way Microsoft will deliver IE 9 on XP is over Ballmer's dead stock options.