At its Mix conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Microsoft gave programmers, Web developers, and the world at large a taste of things to come with its Web browser. Specifically, Microsoft released what it's calling the Internet Explorer 9 Platform Preview, a prototype that's designed to show off the company's effort to improve how the browser deals with the Web as it exists today and, just as important, to add support for new Web technologies that are coming right now.

The new software is only a framework, raw enough that it's still missing a "back" button. But with "a few" updated preview versions set to arrive at eight-week intervals, the project will develop into a beta, a release candidate, and eventually the full-fledged product IE9, said Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Internet Explorer and the executive who'll describe the project at Mix.

Coming in the new version is support for new Web standards including plug-in-free video; better performance with graphics, text, and JavaSript by taking advantage of modern computing hardware; and a new effort at gathering and responding to feedback from those using the prototype software, Hachamovitch said.