Microsoft announced Wednesday that it would officially launch its next web browser, Internet Explorer (IE) 9, next week—on March 14, 2011. The final IE 9 release will thus ship almost exactly one year after the first IE 9 platform preview was unveiled, and about a year and a half after the browser was originally demoed during the Windows 7 launch in October 2009.
"On Monday, March 14, we will celebrate the developers and designers who are making a more beautiful web for all of us," Microsoft Program Manager Ryan Gavin wrote in a blog post. "We will release the final version of Internet Explorer 9 for download beginning at 9pm Pacific."
A year earlier, Microsoft released the IE 9 platform preview build for developers at its MIX'10 show in Las Vegas. But with MIX'11 pushed back a month to April this year, the IE 9 final launch will coincide with the South By Southwest (SXSW) show in Austin, Texas. So, Microsoft will hold a live event and party at SXSW to celebrate that launch.
For Microsoft, a year-and-a-half turnaround is amazingly fast on a product as important as IE, but it's not all good news. During that time, overall IE usage has fallen dramatically (though the most recent version, IE 8, has actually gained share on rivals). And Microsoft's faster-moving competitors are squeezing out new releases at a much faster clip: In the past year alone, for example, Google has shipped seven major versions of the Chrome web browser. (If anything, Chrome development may actually be too fast: Perhaps there is a happy middle ground between IE 9 and Chrome.)
My review of IE 9 will be available on the SuperSite for Windows on March 14, 2011, at 9pm PT (12am ET), to coincide with the launch of the product.