It's been five months - and 25 millions downloads - since Microsoft launched the Internet Explorer 9 beta to a fair bit of critical praise, and now the software-giant has announced that its shiny new browser has hit release candidate status.
Apparently the devs have been paying attention to user feedback, and the RC is meant to be a better browser in almost every respect. In terms of raw performance, the team reckons that this version is about 35 per cent faster than the beta - which was already pretty speedy - thanks to optimisations made to the compiler, network cache and more. It should also use less memory and be less demanding on general system resources, helping to preserve battery life on the move.
One of the biggest complaints levelled against the beta was that the tabs were placed next to the address bar, with no option to move them to their own row. While this was fine for many, power users - or anyone on a netbook - struggled with more than a few tabs at a time, so they can now be relocated to the space below the address bar. Download speeds not being listed in the download dialog and the absence of paste-and-go were also common complaints, both of which have been rectified.
Compatibility and standards compliance have been a huge focus in IE9 and Microsoft is claiming that - unlike the competition - the release candidate supports pretty much every web standard around. There's also support for Tracking Protection features and an ActiveX white-list that only enables the plugins for permitted sites.
There are a huge number of changes and updates in IE9, and all the details - as well as a cheat-sheet that handily lists them all - are available on the official announcement. If you'd rather jump right in, you can grab the Release Candidate here.