Internet Explorer 9 Beta video leaks, here's a few thoughts on the revamped UI [Update]

I have a feeling this video somehow doesn’t tell the whole story about the UI (or is fake), but it’s so interesting I’ll give a few comments.

IE9_beta_leak

  • The tabs next to the address bar? Sure doesn’t leave a lot of space for tabs. Could it be Microsofts attempt at solving the tab overflow issue? If 10 tabs are open, do three of them show up next to the addressbar, and 7 of them below?
  • The move towards tabs on top has been gaining momentum ever since Chrome appeared out of nowhere1, so I half expected IE to jump on this bandwagon (which is a good idea for a variety of reasons).
  • Perhaps the placement of the back/forward and address bar in the bulk of Windows 7 dictated that they had to stay in place to ensure “consistency”?
  • Maybe combined with a desire to mimic the intense minification of UI that goes on in other browsers at the moment, this pushed Microsoft to place the tabs to the right of the addressbar as a last ditch attempt at saving vertical pixels?
  • On a widescreen device, while not a good idea, this is not terrible. Since http:// is now officially dead, and short URLs are the trend, perhaps a combined IE omnibar doesn’t need the lavish width it enjoys in Google Chrome? Perhaps it scales down to, say, 300 pixels in width at the least, revealing a decent amount of extra tab space?
  • Alex Faaborg from Mozilla explained best why tabs on top is a good idea. But with the emergence of Chrome Web-Apps, which are just around the corner, there’s a new, albeit not super strong, argument for disconnecting the addressbar from the tab, and that is that it’s still, despite web-apps, a place people use to launch new webpages. In the case of the omnibar, it’s also where people start searching. In Chrome Web-Apps (here’s an early look), the omnibar is hidden when you’re inside, say, the Google Maps web-app. How do you launch a new page or search? You have to click “new tab” in order to get the omnibar back. Which isn’t a big problem, but nonetheless one IE9s hypothetical future toolbar configuration could eliminate.

On the whole of it, Internet Explorer 9 is interesting only in an infamous way. At best, IE9 can become so standards compliant that us webdesigners can ignore it and let our code degrade gracefully to work in it. At worst, it adds another browser we have to hack towards. That makes four, with IE6, 7, and 8.

[Update]: It looks like I was right in many of these things.


  1. Yep, I know Opera was first, but Chrome somehow brought it to the masses