Microsoft could launch IE 9 release candidate this week

Microsoft has confirmed that members of the Internet Explorer team will be in San Francisco late this week for a news event, which is believed to be the launch of the release candidate (RC) version of Internet Explorer 9.

Microsoft has confirmed that members of the Internet Explorer team will be in San Francisco for a news event this week, likely the launch of the release candidate (RC) version of Internet Explorer 9.

Jason Weber, Microsoft's lead program manager for Internet Explorer performance, pointed to Ed Bott's blog, which predicts a launch event for Internet Explorer 9 RC on Thursday, Feb. 10. The RC typically is Microsoft's final test version before the product launch, or release-to-Web version.

Usually, an RC from Microsoft contains bug fixes but no new features. However, Microsoft did announce a "tracking protection" feature in December that may provide a more transparent way for IE 9 users to avoid clickstream harvesting by advertisers and third parties. At the time of that announcement, Dean Hachamovitch, Microsoft's vice president of Internet Explorer, predicted that the tracking protection feature would be available when the RC of IE 9 was released.

Microsoft's proposed tracking protection feature will require that users opt into lists of URLs to block, with the lists created and maintained by volunteers. Mozilla and Google also are working on "do not track" protections for their browsers that would work more automatically than Microsoft's approach, according to an AP story. However, none of these do-not-track features are available yet.

Microsoft itself harvests clickstream information from Google search results to improve its Bing search engine, if users opt to share such information. Google recently complained about the practice.

Microsoft likely will disclose the latest performance improvements in IE 9, which is currently available as a beta release. Weber described Microsoft's approach in focusing on "real-world" performance measurements, rather than benchmark tests, in yesterday's IE blog post. Microsoft already demonstrated top WebKit SunSpider JavaScript benchmark test results for the IE 9 platform preview 7 back in November. However, these preview releases aren't fully functioning browsers like the RC will be.

Weber outlined five performance objectives for IE 9 in competition with other browsers. Those objectives include speeding up the display time, which is when content displays to the screen. Second, Microsoft wants to improve the elapsed time, which is the period when additional loading occurs after the Web page displays. The team is also measuring CPU time and when work is offloaded to the graphics processing unit (GPU processing is a key element in Microsoft's efforts to enable HTML 5 native video rendering by IE). Microsoft's team is also working on improving resource utilization in areas such as network access, graphics and memory use. Finally, Microsoft is trying to reduce the power consumed by IE 9, with a goal of preserving mobile battery life. 

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