Internet Explorer 9 is another step closer to full public release as Microsoft made available the first release candidate (RC) of the browser for download. Release candidates are past alpha or beta versions of software and indicate that this should be code that is close enough to bug free that it is almost ready for the general public. If no fatal bugs are discovered, the software will be released.

In addition to the obvious user interface changes and some performance boosts, IE9 will bring with it much improved CSS3 and HTML5 support. It’s nowhere near perfect, but IE9’s adoption of modern and cutting edge web standards is leaps and bounds better than Internet Explorer 8. As users ditch IE8 and adopt IE9 they’ll finally be able to enjoy many great touches and flourishes that web designers and developers can easily add thanks to CSS3.

Go download it and then take it for a test drive on some of these speed and capabilities demos.