Internet Explorer 9: What Microsoft cribbed from Google

Internet Explorer 9 sure looks a lot like Google Chrome, if this early screenshot means anything.

Internet Explorer 9 might start copying Chrome's style. Here we see the current aesthetic of IE8.

It seems Microsoft has given Internet Explorer 9 a sleek Chrome finish.

According to a screenshot posted on a Microsoft website in Russia, the upcoming Web browser will share – some might say "ape" – several design features currently in Google's Chrome. The image has since been removed.

Microsoft seems to have thrown out many of the menus and buttons that adorn IE8. The Internet Explorer 9 screenshot does not show buttons for RSS, email, print, "Page," "Safety," and "Tools" – all staples in the current version. The reload and stop-loading buttons appear to take up less real estate. Bookmarks are gone – or at least plucked from the main window. Presumably, all these snipped features have migrated to various menus.

The result is a much tidier browser. Users may need some time to reorient themselves amid this minimalist aesthetic. But the new design frees up more room to display Web pages – the whole reason we use browsers.

Google's browser, which sided with minimalism from the beginning, is a good opponent to emulate. Chrome has attracted more converters this year than any other browser – rising to 5 percent market share, more than Apple's preinstalled Safari. Microsoft still holds 62 percent of the pie, but its share has diminished for some time. Perhaps Internet Explorer 9's new style can help retain users.

Microsoft has not confirmed if the pulled screenshot is Internet Explorer 9, but we'll all find out when the IE9 beta test kicks off Sept. 15.

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