I’m genuinely excited. I don’t remember feeling this way when Chrome 6, Firefox 3.6 or Opera 10.60 were released — and IE9 is just a beta. There are several reasons for my unusual optimism:

  1. We normally wait 2 years between IE updates.
  2. The IE development team has listened to our demands and IE9 is the first version to support HTML5, CSS3, SVG, canvas and several other technologies.
  3. Unlike other vendors, Microsoft has been particularly secretive about IE9′s new interface. A screenshot was leaked, but we’ll only know whether it’s real today.

The beta download should be available at beautyoftheweb.com (yes, seriously) from:

11:00US PDT
12:00US MDT
13:00US CDT
14:00US EDT
18:00UTC / GMT
19:00UK / Ireland
21:00Eastern Europe
02:00 September 16Australia AWST
03:30 September 16Australia ACST
04:00 September 16Australia AEST

Before you rush off to download the browser, note:

  • IE9 is not available for Windows XP. I hope Microsoft rectify that, but I doubt they’ll ever support their aging OS … even if the vast majority of people continue to use XP.
  • Installing IE9 on Windows Vista or 7 will remove your existing installation of IE7 or IE8. Since those browsers will remain popular for many years to come, ensure you have them available on another PC or virtual machine for web development testing purposes. Alternatively, there will be another release of the IE9 platform preview — it’ll run alongside existing versions of IE but it’s far more limited.

The big question — is IE9 any good? Can it live up to our expectations? Head over to our in-depth review…