We've delved into what's new in Internet Explorer 9 before and even thrown up a gallery, but time has finally come to take the covers off the finished product.
The new browser represents a shift in Microsoft's thinking, championing standards compliance, speed and shifting the focus to the website and away from the browser.
While some features are catching up to other browsers like the ability to tear off tabs into new browsers, an all-in-one search and URL bar, minimal menus and a most frequently visited sites start-up screen, it's also keeping pace (or in some cases, defining it) when it comes to hardware acceleration and tracking protection; the former allowing for some fancy graphical effects, the latter to stop ad companies or others tracking your online behaviour.
One of the nicer features that we hope other browser makers include is the ability to pin a site to your taskbar. You can drag and drop the favicon to your Windows 7 taskbar as a direct link to your site as per usual, but this time website owners are able to modify the jumplist (or right-click menu for those unaware) to provide useful content like links to different parts of the site, or to repeat searches you've already performed. It goes deeper than this: Facebook has even enabled notification announcements on the icon in the taskbar. It has the effect of making a website feel like an application, even going so far as to theme the back and forward buttons based off the colour of the site's favicon.
You can download the browser here (Windows Vista and 7 only), or for those who prefer to wait, Microsoft should be rolling it out to different regions around the world through Windows update in the next 12 weeks.
Itching to see what the browser is capable of? Microsoft has proof-of-concept sites here and here, where you can play to your heart's content.
What do you think — does this put Microsoft back in the game?