For years Internet Explorer has had a reputation as the browser of no choice: It's slow, artless and to some an "embarrassment you should be ashamed to use." And it's been more than two years since the once dominant software lost its marketshare position to Firefox. But with the launch of Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft wants to alter perceptions of its long-derided web browser. The new download, available here, has a number of new features: Users can turn any website into an app that rests nicely on the Windows toolbar; it offers "do not track" functionality, which prevents web sites from tracking your online behavior; and, like Google Chrome, it allows users to to search directly in the URL address bar.

So is it worth switching to the new browser? Well, if speed is your priority, it's probably smart for IE8 users to download the new version. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes at ZDNet ran a number of comprehensive tests on IE9, comparing it to Chrome, Firefox and IE8. He found that the new version was considerably faster than its older version. However, it's practically the same speed as its competitors, writes Kingsley-Hughes. "There is so little separating the four fastest browsers."

When it comes to factos other than speed, Peter Bright at Ars Technica called it "the most modern broswer there is." Wowed by the browser's "Do Not Track" option, stripped-down interface and taskbar functionality, he says IE users can finally hold their heads high:

Internet Explorer 9 is a triumph. Not perfect, but still a first-rate product. Microsoft really has built a better browser here. It's arguably the most modern browser on the market—for a few weeks, at any rate. If you use Internet Explorer, and you're not stuck on Windows XP, you should switch. Even if you don't use Internet Explorer, you should try it out. Internet Explorer 6 and 7 are embarrassments that you should be ashamed to use. Internet Explorer 8 is acceptable, but no more than that. Internet Explorer 9 is the anti-IE6. It is an excellent browser that can be used with confidence and pride.