Microsoft plans to launch the beta of the Internet Explorer browser on Sept. 15, according to a blog post on Thursday.

The software maker has scheduled an event in San Francisco to mark the arrival of the beta, billing the event (and the browser) as highlighting "the beauty of the Web." Microsoft also sent packages to reporters containing a variety of art supplies, such as crayons and fingerpaints, inside a box with an IE logo.

That Microsoft is holding a launch event reflects the resurgent importance of the browser and the degree to which Redmond is counting on IE9 to get it back in to serious technical competition with Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

The beta needs either Windows Vista or Windows 7 (no XP) and will also require users to swap out their current installation of Internet Explorer. Among the key features of IE9 is its support for HTML5, an improved JavaScript engine, and the ability to tap a computer's graphics chip to accelerate text and image rendering.

Full story: c|net