Microsoft's IE9 Gains Weight, Speed

Microsoft introduced Internet Explorer 9 to the public, an effort to catch up to Google, Apple and FireFox.
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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) --

Microsoft's

(MSFT) - Get Report

Internet Explorer 9 browser release party put a spotlight on cleaner, faster Web viewing for users, an area where the software giant has lagged behind the pack.

Microsoft plans to release a beta version of Internet Explorer 9 to the public today, calling it the

future of Web browsing

.

Unfortunately, no other outfit drags along such a long history of less-than-brilliant Web browsing innovation.

The move comes as rivals like

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

Chrome,

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

Safari,

Opera

and

Mozilla's

FireFox browsers continue to win the hearts of more users by capitalizing on the slow, resource-hogging performance of Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

In a brief trial of the new Explorer browser, Web pages loaded quickly and the built-in Java program seemed to deliver ads and other graphics instantly instead of gradually as other browsers tend to do.

In appearance, IE9 is less cluttered, with one main tool bar across the top for tabs and a so-called wonder bar for URLs and search entries. And yet while the look is stripped down, the application is considerably more beefy.

Microsoft says the new platform will be better integrated with a user's computer, but with integration comes heft: In its preview mode, the IE9 application consumed three times as much memory as other browsers -- or, for that matter, any other program running on the machine simultaneously.

This may be less of a concern with new Windows 7-powered PCs that pack 2-gigabytes of memory or more, but it does represent yet another giant step toward more heavy resource consumption that's long dogged Microsoft.

The upshot: With a heavy touch, Microsoft catches up to the rest of the browser pack with IE9.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.

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