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Did Google Chrome Influence Microsoft's New Browser Design?

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At 15 years old, Microsoft's Internet Explorer is showing signs of wear. Despite a strong lead, it's lost a considerable amount of market share to plucky upstarts like Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome. It's considered slow, buggy, a security breach waiting to happen, and above all, simply outdated.

But Redmund may have a few tricks up its sleeve when it releases the upcoming Internet Explorer 9 sometime next year. And much like the updates to the Windows operating system, a screenshot has been leaked. And not unlike the design for Windows 8, it appears that Microsoft was heavily influenced by a competitor.

Leaked by a Russian press site and covered by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, the interface has undergone a pretty significant overhaul. The design is much cleaner with fewer buttons and menu items. The navigation bar and search box are combined, tabs are grouped to its right, and only three icons to the side -- home, bookmark, and what looks like a settings control button.

Clean, efficient, and awfully familiar.

As you can see, there are some pretty big similarities. It was only natural for Microsoft to forgo a cluttered interface and opt for a simpler look to stay in the browser game. But ditching menu items on top, combining the address/search bar, and the overall look are strong indicators that the company likes what Google has done with Chrome.

Foley translated the Russian site and revealed that IE9 will have a "new, simplified navigation" that will leave "more room for the (Web) site itself." It added, "Now the user sees only what you need to navigate."

Given Chrome's explosive rise in usage, Microsoft was wise to copy from a popular source.

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