Microsoft slates IE9 beta for September

Exec spells out beta ship date, but company mum on final schedule

MIcrosoft will ship a beta of Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) in September, a company executive said today.

If the timeline is accurate, the IE9 beta release will come a month later than earlier speculation, which had settled on August, a pick based in large part on PowerPoint slides purportedly from a Microsoft presentation that focused on Windows 8 , the next iteration of the company's OS.

Today, Kevin Turner, Microsoft's chief operating officer, said that IE9 would reach beta this fall. "We're really excited about IE9, which will be beta and coming out in September," said Turner during the company's annual day-long presentation to Wall Street analysts.

Turner also boasted of Internet Explorer's recent turnaround, claiming that it had gained usage share the last two months.

According to Web analytics company Net Applications, IE did increase its global share by a record six-tenths of a percentage point during June. However, Net Applications had IE losing, not gaining, ground worldwide in May.

As of June 30, IE accounted for an estimated 60.3% of all browsers used during the month.

Since March, when the company debuted a rough-around-the-edges IE9 developer preview, the company has updated the bare-bones browser twice, most recently in late June .

After Turner's announcement of a September beta for IE9, Microsoft declined to answer additional questions, including when during the month users could expect the more stable preview, or whether the beta would be open to everyone, as the developer previews have been.

"We do not have any additional specifics to share at this time about when Internet Explorer 9 Beta will be available," a company spokeswoman said.

Microsoft has also refused to name a release schedule for the final build of IE9. Most pundits now believe Microsoft won't wrap up the browser until 2011.

That will be the case if Microsoft mimics the timeline it used for Internet Explorer 8 (IE8), which reached the beta milestone in March 2008 but didn't ship until March 2009 .

Using IE8's schedule as a guide, users can expect to see the final version of IE9 in September 2011.

IE9 will run on Windows Vista and Windows 7 , but not on Windows XP, the nearly-nine-year-old operating system that still accounts for 68% of all versions of Windows still in use.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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