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Microsoft to Launch IE9, IE10 Preview Rumored

After a year of waiting, users will finally be able to start downloading the public release of Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) next Monday at 9 p.m. Pacific time, Microsoft said on Wednesday.

It's the first new version of IE in two years, and the most significant update of Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) venerable Web browser in nearly a decade.

Coming in IE9 is support for newer Web standards, including hardware-accelerated HTML5, as well as a do-not-track feature to help protect users' privacy. It also features a more Spartan-looking user interface meant to simplify the user experience.

The launch event will be held in Austin, Texas, during the SXSW Festival, Microsoft said in a post to the Exploring IE blog.

Another statement from the same blog post, however, also apparently lead one tech enthusiast site to suggest that despite the impending launch of IE9, Microsoft may also be preparing to talk about what will be in the next version of its browser after IE10.

That's because Microsoft also teased that Dean Hachamovitch, corporate vice president for IE, will be a featured speaker at the company's MIX11 Web developers and designers conclave in mid-April.

"Last year at MIX10, Hachamovitch and the Internet Explorer team showed off the very first IE9 technology preview, which displayed some of the new HTML5 technology features," the site Betanews observed on Wednesday. "[At MIX11], we're looking forward to perhaps getting the first look at the first previews of Internet Explorer 10."

Since the first IE9 preview a year ago, Microsoft released a total of seven additional previews. The beta test, which began in September, resulted in some 25 million downloads, Microsoft has said. IE9 began its final phase of testing -- called a "release candidate" or RC -- in early February.

Additionally, unlike many Microsoft product releases, IE9 will automatically update from the RC to the final "release to Web" (RTW), saving users extra steps and frustration.

That may turn out to be a boon, as Microsoft struggles to retake some of the nearly 50 percent of IE's market share that it has lost in recent years.

Currently, all versions of IE currently are used by just less than 57 percent of Web surfers globally, according to Web analytics firm Net Applications.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.