After installing the latest Internet Explorer 9 Beta on my Tablet PC I noticed a very worrying problem. The IE9 UI degraded my Tablet PC surfing experience compared to IE8. Ok, let’s me show you the problem.
The picture above is the top of a maximized IE9 window displayed on my Asus T101MT when it’s in Portrait mode, therefore it has a width of only 600pixels in this configuration. There are > 3 tabs opened in the browser. So at first glance the problems are:-
- Address bar has limited space making it hard to read or enter an address
- Tab display area has limited space, making it hard to navigate between tabs.
Let’s see how it used to look in IE8.
So obviously more VERTICAL screen space is used up, at first glance you can see these UI problems
- Address bar has limited space, after being squished by the search bar which was given the ability to extend way more than it should.
- Tab display area is VERY cramped, only able to display the current opened tab.
So, how is IE8 better than IE9 in this UI aspect? Because of a little known thing called the tab list!
Clicking on the drop down to the left of the tab row shows a list of your currently opened tabs which can then be easily used to navigate between tabs. But instead of just a plain list, you could also click the left most button and bring up the quick tabs view which looks like this.
And you have a nice visual way of navigating between tabs. Honestly I didn’t use this feature AT ALL before I started using the Asus in slate mode, AFTER I did though this was a GREAT way of moving between tabs. It’s basically how mobile browsers work when they let users navigate between tabs as well.
Fixing this UI problem is actually VERY easy, since everyone says that Microsoft stole the whole simplistic UI from Google Chrome, let’s bring up Chrome then.
This is Google Chrome maximized on the screen. With only 600 pixels to display tabs with, it probably can’t fit too many as well, BUT… look at the address bar, since the address bar is on it’s own line it has plenty of space to actually be USEFUL.
So the best thing that the IE team can do now is to stop fighting over who has the most compact title bar chrome and split off the tabs and address bar into 2 rows, bring back the Quick Tabs button and the user experience for Tablet PCs can be brought back to functional instead of annoying.