233MHz processor, 512MB RAM, 120MB disk space, Winodws 7/Vista/Server 2008
Microsoft continues to rehabilitate its Internet Explorer browser after neglecting development for many years, and the recently released beta of IE9 shows that the firm is now back at the cutting edge along with rivals such as Firefox and Chrome.
Available to download now, the IE9 beta shows promise with several new features including hardware accelerated graphics and greater support for web standards such as HTML5 and CSS3.
However, there is still some work to be done in this area if Microsoft expects to have nearly complete support in the final release.
Microsoft has previously released several Technical Previews of IE9, but the beta is the first version to showcase the new minimalist user interface, which is designed to be as unobtrusive as possible.
Just a few controls are visible at the top of the browser window, including forward and back buttons and the web address bar, which also now combines the functionality of the search box from IE8.
To the right is a Home button, while a star icon indicates Favourites and a gear wheel accesses the menus for other browser settings.
This minimalist design does provide a greater area for displaying web content, but could confuse some users until they work out how to find all the functions that used to be available from drop-down menus in IE8 and earlier versions of the browser.
In tests, we found the IE9 beta stable and responsive, and we had few problems accessing web sites, although some web-based applications such as V3.co.uk's content management system required us to hit the compatibility button (introduced in IE8) before they would display properly.
Microsoft provides a demonstration of the performance boost this can give with an animated fish tank, accessible from its IE Test Drive site.
On our test PC, IE9 was able to keep up a decent rate of 60 frames per second when animating 100 on-screen fish, whereas Firefox could only manage a relatively sluggish seven to 10 frames per second with the same scene.