The beauty of the web is that any site can be accessible from any computer using a standards compliant browser. The reality is though that many sites are optimised by developers for browsers that make use of cutting edge technology, as that's the only way to move the web forward and improve online experiences. Internet Explorer 9 has a number of class-leading abilities, such as hardware acceleration, HTML5 support and the unique pinned sites feature, but only certain sites will make the best use of them. This guide will take you through ten of our favourite destinations that will really show off the power of IE9: they're worth checking out!
1) Facebook (opens in new tab)
Let's start with the big one. After Google's home page, Facebook is the world's most popular web site with more than 750 million active users. No surprise then than it has native support for Microsoft's class-leading IE9 browser. To enjoy this, click on the famous 'f' logo at the left of the address bar, and drag it to the taskbar in Windows 7. Launch Facebook from here and it will open in its own stripped down browser window free from distractions such as other add-ons, with the logo appearing to the left of the browser page skip buttons and in the correct Facebook colour scheme. (You'll feel right at home). The Jump List support means that by right clicking on the page icon in the task bar you can go directly to either the News, Messages, Events or Friends sections of the site saving you time, and once pinned, the icon will event alert you if you get a new message.
Facebook is usefully enhanced by the IE9 pinned sites feature.
2) Gorillaz.com (opens in new tab)
The Gorillaz are one of the most innovative, avant-garde, and altogether coolest bands in the world, which is especially impressive considering that they aren't even real. Sort of. Real or not, it seems that IE9 is their favourite browser. We imagine that it's to create a link in our minds between the creativity of the band and the creativity of IE9 and its cutting edge HTML5 features. With animations, pictures and videos all over the site, the performance of IE9 is given a good run out. Pinned Drag the Gorillaz favicon to your Windows 7 taskbar and you can access the site like an app - right-clicking on the taskbar icon brings up particular parts of the site: specifically the News section, the G Player (games), the Plastic Beach game and the Membership only Sub-division room. The site won't work properly if you're stuck on an older version of IE, but if you're any kind of fan of the band, the site is worth upgrading to IE9 for and checking out.
The Gorrilaz' web site is a cornucopia of IE9 trickery, of which a pinned site Jump List is just one. Wizard stuff.
3) The Killers (opens in new tab)
The sideways scrolling panoramic home page for The Killers is worth checking out.
4) Jack and the Beanstalk Animated Interactive Storybook (opens in new tab)
5) JitterBug by Cynergy (opens in new tab)
We can all safely agree that there just aren't enough web sites featuring zany graphics with bouncing words and flying multi-coloured moths set to an audio backing of bizarre French songs. Thank goodness for the website Jitterbug then. The site makes good use of IE9's 'Canvas' support, which refers to the rendering of 2D graphics inside the browser. Our tip is to go full screen (F11) to ensure that you can see the Play button and from here you can start the game, the aim of which is to draw a lasso around two butterflies of the same colour as quickly as possible. It's harder than it sounds!
Draw a lasso to capture the butterflies thanks to the power of Canvas support in IE9.
6) Agent8Ball (opens in new tab)
7) Shodo.com (opens in new tab)
Japanese handwriting is well known for its intricacy, delicacy and beauty. The Shodo.com is a website lets you create your own Kanji characters with a virtual ink, brush and paper and it uses the power of IE9 to teach you how to do that. The site uses a number of IE9 technologies such as the Canvas, the HTML5 video and audio elements, as well as SVG and (Web Open Font Format) WOFF fonts. It's a great looking site that gives you a sense of the ritual and care that goes into creating Japanese characters, and you can browse a gallery of letters created by others so you can feel bad at the paucity of your own efforts. Or is that just me?
This web site lets you create Japanese characters with a brush and pen. Clearly, I need some practice.
8) Linkedin (opens in new tab)
LinkedIn is one of those social networks that's been around for a good while, but seems to have gained critical mass recently. Indeed it now has over 150 million users so it's no surprise that the site has received a little bit of customisation for IE9. That primarily takes the form of being optimised to run as a pinned site. Open the site in IE9 and then drag the Favicon to the left of the address bar down to the taskbar in Windows 7. The LinkedIn icon will replace that of the IE logo while the forwards and backwards buttons will match the blue of LinkedIn. Most usefully you'll be able to go straight to various sections of the site, such as My Inbox, My Profile and My Connections. If you use LinkedIn on a regular basis, it's one site you'll soon appreciate having at your fingertips in your taskbar.
9) Rough Guides (opens in new tab)
The Rough Guides books are legendary for informing people about the best places to see around the world and IE9 provides a perfect showcase for doing that online. The Canvas tag in HTML5 is used to great effect to draw the 2D world map created from photos sourced from Flickr and Rough Guides' own archive. It's interactive and you can drag and zoom up to 5x to get close to the image and IE9's native SVG support ensure that photos render crisply and cleanly. With IE9, your computer's ability to act as a window on the world has never been more powerful.
You can zoom in on any location to view a gallery of images pulled in from Flickr and with IE9 it's all plug-in free.
10) Red Bull (opens in new tab)
As a dynamic and up and coming brand, Red Bull needed a website that could match its image. No surprise then that it turned to Microsoft's IE9 to showcase its all HTML5 site, which contains photos, videos and text presented in a slick fast paced way. There are plenty of fascinating video pieces to keep you occupied for a while. Technically, the content is dynamically surfaced depending on its popularity across social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. A scrolling, swapping panel of photos and a barrage of video are all handled smoothly and slickly by IE9 and it all looks and plays beautifully.
Is that a web site offering a smooth sliding gallery with great looking video without a plug-in? Why thank you IE9.