Internet Explorer 9 InterfaceExplorer

Even though we’ve seen a few developer previews of Microsoft’s upcoming Internet Explorer 9 browser, the company has managed to keep news of IE9’s new visual interface under wraps — until now. It appears that Microsoft Russia accidentally released a screenshot and further information related to IE9 on its press site, ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reports.

The screenshot (above) shows some distinct differences from Internet Explorer 8. The location bar and search bar have been combined (like Google Chrome), and tabs now appear to the right of that bar. The available buttons have been simplified to just three, and the back button is now larger than the forward button.

Judging from the screenshot, IE9 doesn’t appear to be a massive visual update, but Microsoft has clearly continued to strip down the browser to avoid distracting elements. It started aiming for a cleaner browser interface with IE7’s release in 2006, and IE8 pushed that idea even further when it hit in 2009.

It’s also interesting that the company is trying to remain different from its competitors. Mozilla’s Firefox 4 interface, for example, looks a lot like Google Chrome.

After running the Russian site’s text (which has since been taken down) through Bing’s Translator, Foley also discovered that the browser will have the ability to pin certain “recognized” or “protected” sites directly to the task bar. There’s also a new “tear-off tabs” feature that allows users to turn tabs into separate windows — something both Firefox and Chrome already offer.

Microsoft is hosting an event on September 15 to launch the IE 9 beta. It’s unknown when a final version of the browser will be released, but many are betting on sometime in 2011.

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