On February 10, as expected, Microsoft is making available for download the near-final test build of Internet Explorer (IE 9).
Many are expecting the Softies to make the bits available "officially" around 1 pm ET today. (But I just downloaded the final RC bits from WinRumors.com.)
Update: The RC bits are available for download from Microsoft's BeautyOfTheWeb.com site now.
Included in the new RC build is the promised "Tracking Protection" feature, as well as a new ActiveX filtering option.
Tracking Protection is an opt-in mechanism. “Tracking Protection Lists” will enable consumers to control what third-party site content can track them when they’re online. The new feature is meant to complement other privacy features in IE, including InPrivate Browsing. ActiveX filtering allows users to turn on/off ActiveX plug-ins.
My blogging colleague Ed Bott has an in-depth review of the RC build of IE 9 here.
In the hour-plus I've been playing with the IE 9 RC, I've found it to be noticeably snappier than the beta version. And some of the site rendering issues I'd been having seem to have been resolved. The Twitter Web site, for one, seems to be working properly with IE for me, at last. Reader @Alimaggs noted that Facebook and Windows Live Home are both rendering correctly for him with the RC, as well.
If you're like me and want your tabs in a row unto themselves, apart from the URL/address box, a right click will provide you with an option to show tabs on a separate row below. (Huzzah!)
Microsoft is holding an IE 9 RC launch event in San Francisco later today. I'm doubtful we'll hear anything (still) about a final release-to-web target for IE 9, but I'm still thinking Mix '11 in mid April this year seems like a good bet.
Update No. 2: Microsoft officials are saying there will be no more IE9 test builds released after today's RC. Next stop is RTW (whenever that is).
Testers: Anything else of interest you're seeing with the IE 9 RC?