Update: now read our Hands on: IE9 review.
Microsoft will announce the worldwide availability of Internet Explorer 9 beta at 7:15pm UK time, with over 70 partners creating 'new experiences' to show off the latest browser.
Internet Explorer 9 is one of the most crucial software launches Microsoft has made in recent years, with its dominance in the market under severe threat from major players like Firefox and Google Chrome.
But, the Redmond giant is determined that it has provided a sleeker, faster offering that still brings the security and privacy features of its predecessor, and the early indications are certainly positive.
Power of the PC
"Internet Explorer 9 uses the power of Windows and the whole PC to bring you a better web," said Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft.
"We're proud to join our partners in releasing the beta of Internet Explorer 9, delivering a more beautiful Web to Windows customers across the globe."
IE9 brings features like hardware acceleration and HTML5 support to bring the browser up to the next level, and it has taken major strides in terms of speed – giving it a fighting chance against its lean, mean rivals.
Beauty of the web
Microsoft is making a big deal of the potential of websites within the latest Internet Explorer, with 70 high-profile partners, including Facebook, MySpace, Hulu, CNN and Amazon, providing glimpses into the way the web is developing.
"The web is about sites; your browser should be too," said Dean Hachamovitch, corporate vice president of Windows Internet Explorer at Microsoft.
"Internet Explorer 9 is about making those sites shine, and we're delighted that so many sites have come out with us today to create the kind of richness on the Web that wasn't possible before."
One of those partners is Rough Guide, which has provided an exceptionally novel website for IE9 that could easily be a desktop app.
"Rough Guides has always encouraged travellers to make the most of the world," said Liz Statham, marketing and PR director at Rough Guides.
"On or offline, the world is a beautiful place and we hope this Rough Guide to the World will encourage everyone to stop dreaming, start sharing and get packing!"
Band Gorillaz were heavily involved with the launch and they also had their say: "It's like a tube full of magic bursting out of the screen.
"It's like shoving your mind through a blackhole and right slap-bang into the future. I can have two or three videos screen running all at the same time, and create jumping lists that get me where I need to go instantly. INSTANTLY! And, our mouse works so fast now we skidded off the page twice today."
The Internet Explorer 9 beta is now available, allowing millions to see if Microsoft's promises are worth the HTML 5 they are coded in.
You can download the beta from the special 'beauty of the web' website at www.BeautyoftheWeb.co.uk.
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