Apart from confirmation by Steve Ballmer that Microsoft (news, site) is working on a tablet it hopes will compete with iPad, Thursday’s Microsoft annual Financial Analyst Meeting also brought news that the company intends to release the beta of IE 9 in September.

Although there have been leaks and some discussion about IE9 over the past few months, Microsoft has until now avoided giving a date for even the beta release. Even with this announcement they haven’t specified when in September.

Internet Explorer Problems?

This was the full extent of the information Microsoft was prepared to give on the release of the final build, which is not expected to see the light of day until sometime next year.

Since the company first gave developers a look at a rough version in March it has updated it twice. The beta, when it is finally released, comes 19 months after the release of IE 8, which has been cited as the reason IE clawed back some of the ground it lost to other browsers.

This was confirmed in July, according to figures released by Net Applications, which showed IE experienced a rise in usage US market share of60.32% in June up from of 59.75% in May.

In June, the trend reversal became global.Internet Explorer gained 0.57% in June across all operating systems with IE 8.0 gaining 0.86% globally, primarily at the expense of Firefox (-.51%). However, this is still well off its June 2008 figure, when IE had 75% of the market.

Internet Explorer 9 Beta

With the beta release of IE 9, users will be offered a full HTML 5 compatible browser thaton Windows will accelerate video, although those that are working off earlier versions will be stuck with a compatible mode in which the advantages of IE 9 will not be visible.

Learning Opportunities

It is not clear yet who this is going to effect as Microsoft has not said whether this will be a full public beta release or whether it will just be restricted to developers.

That said, in the most recent preview, support for W3C standards including HTML5 audio and video tags, and canvas elements, as well as Web Open Font Format (WOFF) were added and made accessible to everyone.

Have a look here at what the beta has to offer:

With the previews Microsoft held to its word to provide eight-week updates that would enable developers provide feedback on what was on show.It will be interesting to see what the final beta will look like.