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November 11, 2011

3 Things I Love About Internet Explorer 9

I’ve been using IE9 since the beta was released and while there is a lot I like I have really come to appreciate a few things in particular. I still run into people that haven’t heard about them or tried them out personally so thought I’d post about them here.

1. Pinning and Jump Lists. Given I’ve used desktop shortcuts and IE favorites for years I was a bit skeptical when I first heard of the pinning feature. What I found was that after I tried it I quickly got to the point where I can’t imagine NOT having it. Really. If you haven’t tried this out, you really should and once you do you should show your friends too. It’s that good.

My Taskbar 1

When I started using it I realized that there are some sites that I use way more often than apps that I have pinned. Pinning them lets me treat these sites like an app. My favorite example of this is Hotmail. From the Jump List I can start composing an email in exactly two clicks. Being able to see the number of new messages in my inbox is just a bonus. I actually respond to my Hotmail email much quicker than I used to when I had it saved in my IE favorites.

Hotmail Jumplist

All that you have to do is drag the tab at the top of the IE window to your taskbar and let go. You can pin any site to the taskbar but if the site has made a few simple additions you’ll get the full experience of Jump Lists, notifications (like how many new messages in my inbox) and more. There are tons of sites that have done this and you can find many of them listed in the IE Gallery.

If you’ve got a site of your own it’s now easier than ever to enable the full pinning experience for your visitors. Just visit and follow the instructions.

2. Lower power consumption. This might seem like a small thing but it helps wring the most power out of my ‘always too small’ laptop battery and contributes to reducing overall energy use on any system. Sure I use sleep mode and make my screen dim quicker to save battery but those only work when I’m NOT doing something. Using IE9 as my browser saves some energy while I AM doing something.

Measuring this energy savings goes well beyond my efforts to use a Kill-A-Watt to get my PC’s power consumption down. The IE team has a great blog post on the specifics of how they measured this and the results.

3. Hardware acceleration. This one doesn’t get old but I have started to take it for granted. I’ve found myself using a PC that belongs to someone else and having it feel slightly ‘off’ as I browse the web until I realize it’s not running IE9. The full acceleration really contributes to the overall web experience besides creating truly amazing experiences in some specific scenarios. There are a couple great posts on the IE blog about this including a breakdown of the HTML blizzard demo and a rundown on the hardware acceleration architecture.

If you haven’t taken the time to install IE9 you really should check it out. Once you have it installed try out the pinning on your favorite sites. It’s truly one of those things that’s hard to be without after you experience it.