Microsoft has delivered four developer previews of Internet Explorer (IE) 9 so far, but has yet to show off the new interface for its next-generation browser. That is expected to happen on September 15, during Microsoft's beta launch event in San Francisco.
But maybe users won't have to wait until then to get a glimpse of what's coming. Microsoft Russia's press site, on August 25, posted information and a photo that seem to be connected to the coming IE 9 beta. (The site has since pulled their post, but I grabbed the information and screen shot in the nick of time.)
The screen shot (above) shows a navigation bar and fewer controls. There's a back button, a combined URL - search box at the top. And that's pretty much it. I don't see menu items like "Favorites" or "Suggested Sites" or "Get More Add-Ons" (but maybe they're still in there, somehow).
I ran the text of the Russian site's IE 9 posting through the Bing Translator. Other than turning a couple of the references from IE 9 to IE 8 (and IE 7, in one case), Bing did a good job.
The Microsoft Russia site said there will be a new, simplified navigation bar with IE 9 that will leave "more room for the (Web) site itself." There will be some navigation tools for commonly used functions -- things like a back button and a combined address/search bar. But the numerous menu items in older versions of IE have "been consolidated into one," the site said. "Now the user sees only what you need to navigate."
The Russian Microsoft site said that there will be provisions for "recognized," or "protected," sites which will allow users to go straight from the Windows taskbar to these sites without having to open IE first. In other words, recognized, protected sites will be treated more like traditional Windows applications.
Bing translated the instructions for doing this as "(C)lick the pins in the address bar or click the site in a new tab and drag it to the taskbar. That's all. If the site is pinned, it displays an icon that is separate from the Internet Explorer. Now from the website you are just one click."
(It sounds like this might be a feature accessible by Windows 7 users only, though I am not sure.)
The Russian site also mentioned "tear-off tabs" -- a capability that will build on Windows's Aero Snap feature. Snap allows users to more easily look at two pages, side-by-side by "snapping" them to the sides of their PC screen. Firefox and Safari both already include tear-off tabs, allowing users to select tabbed items and turn them into separate windows.
Here's the description of the tear-off tabs from the Russian site, as translated by Bing:
"Often a task must open several Web pages or screens. Advanced tabs in combination with Windows Aero Snap is a quick way to display two or two-page spread. To do this, simply drag the page in different screen and will appear next to each other. Reproduction of content sites and video are not violated."
I've asked Microsoft for comment on the information posted and removed from the Microsoft Russia site. I will add any comments I get to this post. Update: Not very useful, but here's the official statement, from a Microsoft spokesperson: “Microsoft is encouraged by the early enthusiasm around Internet Explorer 9; we have nothing further to share about Internet Explorer 9 at this time.”
Company officials have not been willing to pinpoint a due-date target for IE 9, but many of us company watchers are thinking it will be in 2011
What do you think of the direction Microsoft may be taking -- if this information is accurate -- with the user interface for IE 9?