In September, Microsoft held a gala event to announce the beta release of Internet Explorer 9. There were bands, auditorium-size stage shows and hours on end of Internet Explorer goodness. Today, the company is holding a much more subdued event to announce the release of Internet Explorer 9's first release candidate and unveil many of the expected features.

In addition to the general announcement, we're expecting to see more in the way of IE9's hardware accelerated HTML5 graphics support, updates for developers and the much-discussed "Do Not Track" feature. We're live at the event so stay tuned and we'll bring you the news as it comes.

We're told that the event will begin any minute, so stay tuned.

9:07 AM: We're getting going.

We're going to hear from partners dealing with HTML5 and those with privacy/do no track issues.

We're going to start off with a video from developers and designers talking about IE9.

9:09 AM:

What do they have to say? (All good things, of course)
-The browser gets out of the way
-The RC will have geolocation
-These developers really like pinning websites and treating them like apps.
-The "desktop is moving onto the web and the web onto the desktop" - this has been Microsofts party line with IE9 all along.

9:11 AM: Ryan Gavin takes the stage.

"We've had 7 updates to IE9 before today".

The word today, it seems, will be "developer." Gavin is talking about release scheduling and how it has been well-received in the developer community.

"This is probably the highest quality beta in IE history."

Says they've received more than 17,000 pieces of feedback on IE9, more than the entire life cycle of IE8.

9:14 AM:

Now we're talking about hardware acceleration. "You can't have a discussion about browsers today without discussing hardware acceleration."(The motto, of course, has been "Beauty of the Web.")

And here's the other topic of the day: Trust.

"IE9 aspires to be the world's most trusted browser."

IE9 can block 99% of malware, says Gavin. And yes, the release of IE9 RC1 is today.

9:16 AM:

Privacy & Tracking Protection:

Tracking lists have been published: privacy choise, easy list, Truste and Abine.

9:21 AM: Now we're seeing dev tools for tracking features. As you browse, you can watch IE9 create a browsing profile and exmaine how your browser is being tracked.

9:23 AM: "What you see there is that with one click, you're protected. It's as simple as finding a list and clicking a button."

IE9 also allows creation of "personalized tracking protection lists."

Some offer do not track lists, others like Truste offer whitelists, which list what to allow, not what to block.

"This is the first in the industry to enable this level of control."

9:24 AM: Now we're moving on to "Interoperability."

Announcing geo-location support.

"In today's Web, sites need to ask you for your location. Now, you can ask the browser and the browser can, with your consent, give your location."

Geo-location - uses the same services as WP7 to provide location.

9:30 AM:

We're now getting into the usual demos of how fast IE9 hardware acceleration is. The difference, they say, is between full and partial hardware acceleration.

IE9 is "four times as fast" as Chrome 10.

9:40 AM: Moving to the last area: User Experience.

Three things - navigation, tabs, and pin sites.

Consumers like the "site-centric experience" - tightened up UI, squared off tabs, made more room for content.

Showed two sites, side by side, on Chrome and IE9, and showed that IE9 offered a "full toolbar's width" more screen space for content. (It's clear here today that Microsoft considers Chrome its big browser competitor and not Firefox. As a matter of fact, the word Firefox hasn't been mentioned once.) One other thing? My Chrome looks cleaner than the one they just showed - I have to wonder what version that was.

"Another area where we had a lot of feedback was around tabs."

For 97% of sessions, users had 5 tabs or fewer. "At the same time, we care a lot about that last 3%."

Can move tab bar under one box to give full width of window for tabs.

9:46 AM: Pinnable sites:

Now allows for various elements on a website to be grabbed and pinned to the Windows 7 taskbar.

Users 40% more likely to return to site with "pin site" feature. ("Pinnable" sites are websites that can be a permanent icon on the bottom taskbar of Windows 7. They can also feature "jump lists", which add quick actions to the right-click menu of these pinned items.)

9:53 AM:Unlike the HP WebOS, this one is running just an hour long. That's it folks. As always, we're interested in hearing what you think of the latest with IE9.